OCTOBER 30, 2007

Hospital workers peek at Clooney's records
NORTH BERGEN, NJ — Twenty-seven New Jersey hospital workers were suspended for sneaking a look at George Clooney's medical records after he was treated for a broken rib and scrapes following a late September motorcycle accident. No physicians were among the 27 suspended. The punishment drew criticism from the hospital workers' union and Mr Clooney himself. "While I very much believe in a patient's right to privacy," the actor announced, "I would hope that this could be settled without suspending medical workers."

Vodka drip to the rescue
MACKAY, AUSTRALIA — A young man was saved by his quick-thinking Aussie physicians — and a bottle or two of vodka. The man, who fell into a coma after drinking the antifreeze component ethylene glycol in a possible suicide attempt, was initially treated with medicinal alcohol, an antidote to his poisoning. But when the hospital ran out of the alcohol, doctors turned to a vodka drip, administered at a rate of three drinks per hour for three days. The man made a full recovery. "By the time he woke up I think his hangover would have well and truly gone," one doctor said.

Another COX-2 off the market
OTTAWA — Another COX-2 inhibitor is down for the count. Lumiracoxib was withdrawn from the market at Health Canada's request, just as rofecoxib was in 2004. Regulators said the "serious hepatotoxicity associated with the use of [lumiracoxib] cannot be safely and effectively managed." Health Canada asked all doctors to cease prescribing the osteoarthritis drug and to ask patients with prescriptions to stop taking it.

"Um, it starts with a 'z'..."
CHICAGO — Forty percent of patients have no idea what hypertension meds they're on, says a new Northwestern University study to be published in the November issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. One reason for this problem, lead author Dr Stephen Persell told Reuters, is that patients frequently can't pronounce the bizarre names of generic drugs.

Staph kills more than AIDS
ATLANTA — American public health officials say staph may kill more people than AIDS in the US, after a new study on the incidence of drug-resistant staph (MRSA) was published in the October 17 JAMA. Over half of MRSA infections, the study found, are spread in healthcare facilities, and the disease has become the most common infection seen in EDs. "Old diseases have learned new tricks," wrote Los Angeles public health officer Dr Elizabeth A Bancroft in an accompanying editorial.

Can yoga help CA patients?
NEW YORK CITY — A good yoga session can lift a breast cancer patient's spirits, reported a team of New York and Ahmedabad, India researchers. In a study published October 1 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, they show that yoga improved overall quality of life, emotional and social well-being and reduced stress in breast cancer patients who aren't on chemotherapy. Another study published in the same issue found exercise alone didn't explain the improvement, indicating the benefit may stem from yoga's meditation techniques.




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