- Hospital Blood-Thinner Rules Need Tightening: Commission
- Experts Warn of Caffeine Levels in Energy Drinks
- Drug Maker to Make Doctor Payments Public
- Chinese Milk Scandal Toll at 54,000; System Called 'Out of Control'
- Obesity Increases Risk of Recurrent Miscarriage
- Low-Calorie Diet Can Influence Life Span: Study
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Hospital Blood-Thinner Rules Need Tightening: Commission
Rules that govern hospitals' use of heparin and related medicines need to be tightened after at least 28 deaths resulted from drug errors involving the blood-thinners over the decade ending in 2007, a regulatory group said Wednesday.
The Joint Commission said hospitals should consider preventive measures including bar coding and computer technology to prevent similar errors, the Associated Press reported. A highly publicized example was a dangerous heparin overdose given to the newborn twins of actor Dennis Quaid at a Los Angeles hospital in November.
In all, 59,316 errors involving blood thinners were reported from 2001 to 2006 to a company that tracks such errors, the commission said. About 1,700, or almost 3 percent, of those cases led to patient harm or death, the wire service reported.
Too much of a blood thinner can lead to bleeding that's difficult to control, and too little after surgery or an injury can result in dangerous blood clots.
The commission is a privately run organization that accredits most U.S. hospitals -- a measure of prestige that also influences federal funding, the AP reported.
Experts Warn of Caffeine Levels in Energy Drinks
Caffeine intoxication is possible from so-called energy drinks that can contain as much of the stimulant as 10 cans of Coca-Cola, experts warn.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine want caffeine doses prominently displayed on the drinks' labeling, which the scientists say also should include a warning of the products' potential risks, the CanWest News Service reported.
Children and adolescents who aren't habitual caffeine consumers are particularly vulnerable to caffeine intoxication, they wrote in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Symptoms could include nervousness, restlessness, anxiety, upset stomach, tremors and rapid heartbeat.
"Many of these products are not labeled with the amount of caffeine. There are no cautionary notes," the news service quotes Roland Griffiths, a professor in the Hopkins departments of psychiatry and neuroscience, as saying.
Griffiths added that younger people who seek the caffeine high from energy drinks could be more likely to abuse prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin, recent research indicates.
Some 906 million gallons of the drinks -- with brand names including Red Bull, Full Throttle, and AMP Energy -- were consumed worldwide in 2006, the researchers said.
Drug Maker to Make Doctor Payments Public
Global drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. plans to become the first pharmaceutical firm to make public the amount it pays doctors to advise the company or speak at conferences on its behalf, the Associated Press reported.
The revelation comes as Congress considers legislation designed to guard against such payments influencing doctors' prescribing practices and other medical decisions, the wire service said.
Lilly said starting next year, it will reveal payments of $500 or more to doctors who offer advice or who speak at conferences. Eventually, the company said it would widen disclosure to include payments for travel, entertainment and gifts, the AP reported.
Since 2006, House and Senate lawmakers have proposed bills to require drug companies to disclose physician payments of $25 or more. The drug industry took issue with the $25 threshold, and Lilly had said it would comply with key provisions of the legislation if the threshold were raised to $500, the wire service said.
Trade groups representing physicians, including the American Medical Association, also had said they would support the legislation if it included the higher threshold, the AP said.