Health & Wellness

Melissa Rivers Sues Doctors For Medical Malpractice That Led To Joan Rivers Death

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Months after the controversial death of comedian and TV host Joan Rivers in a “simple” medical procedure, daughter Melissa Rivers is suing her mother’s doctors for medical malpractice.

joan rivers deathThe younger Rivers filed the lawsuit against Yorkville Endoscopy in Manhattan State Supreme Court, with the motion to seek damages that are yet undetermined. “The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly, almost incomprehensible,” said Melissa Rivers in a news release. The legendary host died of brain damage resulting from obstruction of oxygen supply, as reported by the New York medical examiner.

According to the lawsuit, doctors didn’t handle Rivers’ endoscopy procedure, and conducted an unauthorized laryngoscopy. Doctors who were present during the medical procedures and cited in the suit were gastroenterologist Lawrence Cohen and ENT specialist Gwen Korovin.

Contributory to the lawsuit was the results of the investigation by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which reported that clinic failed in terms of proper conduct during a medical procedure, including incomplete medication records, failure to get consent prior to each procedure, and its decision to take pictures of Rivers during the operation.

The decision to sue the Upper East Side clinic was not easy, said Rivers. “What ultimately guided me was my unwavering belief that no family should ever have to go through what my mother, Cooper and I have been through.”

Health & Wellness

Breakthrough Invention: Fibers That Inject Drugs Directly To The Brain

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brain drugs

A new technology developed by scientists from MIT involves polymer fibers the width of a hair strand to deliver electrical impulses and drug components to the human brain. This discovery was revealed in a paper published in the Nature Biotechnology journal authored by Polina Anikeeva and fellow scientists.
Using material science concepts uniquely devised in MIT labs, the research team created fibers that can be implanted in the human nervous system for neural stimulation and recording. This invention was spurned from the lack of devices that are compatible with organic human tissue due to their rigidity. Current devices are made of hard materials such as metal and glass, which are “so stiff, so sharp — when you take a step and the brain moves with respect to the device, you end up scrambling the tissue,” said Anikeeva in a news release. “It’s a big problem in neural prosthetics.”

The fibers mimic the characteristics of nerve tissues, thereby making them stick longer in the midst of sensitive tissue fibers in the body. “We’re building neural interfaces that will interact with tissues in a more organic way than devices that have been used previously,” Anikeeva added.

The grand purpose of these fibers, according to researchers, is for neurological studies and drug administration. Functions such as optical signal infusion, introduction of drugs directly to the nervous system, and sending of electrical impulses to the brain can be carried out using the fibers. “You can have a really broad palette of devices,” said Anikeeva.

Medical Marijuana

Colorado Revisits Medical Marijuana Law Five Years After Approval

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marijuana legalization alaska oregon district of columbia

It’s hard to imagine that the medical marijuana legislation in Colorado is approaching its five-year mark. As part of the law’s stipulations, Colorado state lawmakers need to renew the pot regulations this year, by introducing an updated bill before the January 23 deadline. Otherwise, the law will expire and the state will no longer be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes.
This development is giving rise to a group of senators who are planning to block plans to change the existing regulations of the medical marijuana law, according to a news item. The administration side led by Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed 15 alterations to the law, including stricter regulations for medical marijuana growers. However, the move was rejected by the Senate, which prefers to take votes on each stipulation to the dot.

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs is one of the lawmakers who believe that updating the Colorado medical marijuana law requires a more detailed approach. “Many of these are rather major policy changes and those should be debated individually,” said Hill. The panel who will deliberate on the law is composed of two Democrats and three Republicans, all from the Senate Finance Comittee.

One of the prickly recommendations by the administration include more stringent monitoring on caregivers, who grow marijuana on behalf of the patients prescibed to use them. The existing law does not require the caregivers to divulge the location of their growing facilities.

Health & Wellness

Pizza: New Threat To Kids Health?

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As the popularity of pizza heightens, so does the appetite of kids for this delectable food item. However, a new study warns about the effect of pizza on the health of our kids.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) investigated the dietary behavior of children who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2010. Data showed that while calories obtained by children from pizza followed a decreasing trend, pizza provided more than 20 percent of the daily calorie intake for both children and teenagers. In fact, kids were found to ingest more calories, sodium and saturated fat on days when they ate pizza, in contrast to days when they didn’t eat a slice or two.

What’s more surprising is that when pizza is taken as snack between regular meals, children ingested an excess of 202 calories while teenagers took in 365 calories more. Study lead author Lisa Powell, who works at the UIC School of Public Health’s health policy and administration, said that this aggravates the health risks of eating pizza. “Children and adolescents do not adequately compensate by eating less of other foods on days when they eat pizza,” Powell said in a news item.

Based on the findings of the study, the researchers recommend improvements in nutritional counseling programs for the youth. “Curbing pizza consumption alone isn’t enough to significantly reduce the adverse dietary effects of pizza. It’s a very common and convenient food, so improving the nutritional content of pizza, in addition to reducing the amount of pizza eaten, could help lessen its negative nutritional impact,” Powell added.

Health & Wellness

New Surgically Implanted Weight Management Device Approved By FDA

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maestro rechargeable system obesity device by enteromedica FDA approved

For people who are looking for the ultimate solution to preventing obesity, this new product might give you hope.
A new obesity device called the Maestro Rechargeable System was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to address the issue of weight management. The device is designed to be surgically implanted into a person’s abdomen, and sends electrical signals to the abdominal vagus nerve so that it can consequently send feedback to the brain that the stomach is already full. Its concept is similar to the effect of gastric bypass surgery in suppressing appetite through signals to the brain.

Minnesota-based company EnteroMedics of St. Paul developed the device, which was given the go signal for commercial use by the FDA’s Gastroenterology and Urology Devices Panel. The approval was based on clinical trials conducted on more than 200 patients who possessed a body mass index (BMI) or at least 35. Results of the human trials showed that more than half of the test patients (52.5%) reduced their excess weight by at least 20 percent. The test group was also found to have lost 8.5 percent more weight that the control group, which did not receive the device.

Although the product has been approved, FDA requires the manufacturer to monitor at least 100 patients within a five-year window to check the effectiveness and safety of the product. Despite the risks of the product discovered in the trials — nausea, heartburn, vomiting, and chest pain, among others — the FDA nevertheless granted approval of the Maestro Rechargeable System.

[ Image courtesy of Enteromedics Inc. ]

Pregnancy & Fertility

Study Investigates Risk Factors For Death of Pregnant Women

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Childbirth is as delicate to the infant as the mother, and a recent study aims to look into some of the risk factors involved in maternal deaths.

pregnant womanAccording to a research conducted by the University of Oxford’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, the risk of maternal death is aggravated by six major factors, led by medical co-morbidities. The mother’s medical condition — which may include hypertension, asthma, mental disorders, and blood-related diseases — may constitute up to 49 percent of the risk of death.

Other factors include problems from a previous pregnancy, gestational hypertension, improper use of antenatal care, substance abuse, and Indian descent.

The study was based on data from the MBRRACE Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths as well as the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS). Deaths of women in the U.K. from 2009 to 2012 were studied, along with more than 1,600 women who survived a high-risk pregnancy complication.

Study co-author Marian Knight, who works at the university’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, said that while cases of maternal deaths in the U.K. are few and far between, the importance of maternal care should not be disregarded. “The findings highlight the importance of optimal care for women with pre-existing medical problems in pregnancy. We found that uptake of antenatal care was poorer among women with medical co-morbidities which could increase adverse effects associated with these conditions. It is therefore vital that this group of women receive pre-conception counselling and extra support throughout their pregnancy,” Knight said in a news release.

Substance Abuse

Majority of U.S. Fatal Car Crashes Caused By Marijuana Or Alcohol

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If the flood of news items about deaths due to driving under the influence does not make an impact, perhaps this new study will.

car crash driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuanaData obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the duration 1999-2011 revealed that 50.3 percent of car crashes that result in death of young adults and teenagers were caused by driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol. Dr. Katherine Keyes led the investigative study to use the information as a springboard for drafting policies to combat substance abuse.

The study amassed data involving drivers 16-25 years old who figured in fatal car crashes across nine states: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington State and West Virginia. The study revealed that 36.8 percent of the cases found the victims under the influence of alcohol, 5.9 percent under marijuana, and 7.6 percent under both substances, as published in a news article.

Keyes, who works at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said that the information on deadly vehicular accidents should be able to prompt improved implementing rules to curb substance abuse. “Given the rapid changes currently underway in marijuana availability and permissibility in the US, understanding the effects of drug control policies on substance use behaviour and adverse health outcomes, such as fatal motor vehicle crashes, has never been more important,” Keyes said.


Study Reveals Diabetes Overtreatment In Seniors

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A recent study that appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that some seniors are being overtreated for diabetes, leading them to higher risk of hypoglycemia.

old woman senior diabetes treatmentA team of researchers from Yale School of Medicine led by Dr. Kasia Lipska discovered that majority of diabetes patients at least 65 years old received tight glycemic control treatments to limit blood sugar to less than 7 percent hemoglobin A1c. The study looked into health data of more than 1,200 seniors obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2001 and 2010. The study group was divided into three categories, according to the authors: “Those who are relatively healthy, those with complex medical histories for whom self-care may be difficult and those with a very significant comorbid illness and functional impairments, many of whom may have limited life expectancy.”

Results showed that 61.5 percent of the patients were treated in line with tight glycemic control, with the said ratio carried over across any of the three groups. The research team believes that elders with existing medical issues might not get the benefits of tight glycemic control. “older persons, particularly those with complex medical problems, may derive less benefit from intensive strategies to lower glucose levels… and are more susceptible to hypoglycemia and its consequences compared with younger, healthier persons,” the team said in a news release.

Despite the risks defined by the research team, no precautions have been done by medical institutions due to lack of data. In fact, a similar study pointed out that intensive treatment does not heighten the risk of diabetes-related deaths. Still, the researchers believe that more studies need to be done in this field. “Recognition of both the harms and benefits of glycemic control is critical for patients and physicians and other health care professionals to make informed decisions about glucose-lowering treatment,” the researchers pointed out.