- Mercury Common in U.S. Fish: Study
- Meningitis Vaccine Given Accelerated Approval by FDA
- Resiliency Testing Introduced for U.S. Soldiers
- More Patients Leaving Hospitals Against Medical Advice
- FDA Launches New Tobacco Control Center
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Mercury Common in U.S. Fish: Study
Mercury was found in every fish caught in 291 U.S. streams and rivers by U.S. Geological Survey scientists, and 25 percent of the fish had levels of mercury considered unsafe for people who consume average amounts of fish.
The USGS study found that some of the highest levels of mercury were in fish taken from "blackwater" streams in the Southeast, Bloomberg news reported. High levels of mercury were also found in fish in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, and in waterways in the West that flow near gold and mercury mines.
Coal-fired power plants produce most the mercury found in streams, rivers and fish, the USGS said.
"This science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a news release, Bloomberg reported.
Meningitis Vaccine Given Accelerated Approval by FDA
Accelerated approval for Hiberix, a Haemophilus b Conjugate Vaccine, has been granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline said Wednesday.
Hiberix was approved as a booster dose for use in children ages 15 months to 4 years old in order to protect them from invasive disease caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), RTTNews reported.
Hib disease is an often serious and potentially deadly bacterial infection that can cause meningitis.
The FDA's accelerated approval is meant to help deal with a shortage in the United States of a vaccine to protect infants from Hib. GlaxoSmithKline said the vaccine should be available within several weeks, RTTNews reported.
Resiliency Testing Introduced for U.S. Soldiers
Regular assessments of soldiers' resiliency will be introduced by the U.S. Army this fall in a program that was created partly as a response to rising numbers of soldier suicides.
As of Oct. 1, all active duty and reserve soldiers will be required to complete an online, 170-question assessment designed to assess how they're feeling emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The test will be repeated every two years, the Associated Press reported.
Soldiers' scores on the test won't be revealed to their commanders. However, commanders will be told if soldiers have taken the test and participated in follow-up training. All soldiers will receive some training regardless of their scores.
"It's not looking for disease," said Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, chief of comprehensive solider fitness, the AP reported. "We only know if (progress) is sufficient if in two years the solder scores better and is better in the interim."
More Patients Leaving Hospitals Against Medical Advice
An increasing number of patients are leaving U.S. hospitals against the advice of medical staff, according to a federal government report released Wednesday.
Between 1997 and 2007, the number of such cases increased by about 39 percent, from 264,000 to 368,000, said the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
An analysis of cases in which patients left the hospital against medical advice in 2007 found that:
- The top five reasons patients were in hospital were: chest pain with no determined cause (25,600); alcohol-related disorders (25,300); substance-related disorders (21,000); depression or other mood disorders (13,900); and diabetes with complications (12,500).
- Medicaid and Medicare patients each accounted for about 27 percent of cases, uninsured patients accounted for 22 percent, and 19 percent of cases involved patients with private insurance.
- Men were about 1.5 times more likely than women to leave the hospital against medical advice.
- Patients in the Northeast had the highest rate of leaving hospitals against medical advice -- 2 per 1,000 population vs. a nationwide average of 1 per 1,000 population.