Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Artificial Hips a Bigger Problem Than Breast Implants: Study
Hundreds of thousands of people who received artificial
metal-on-metal hips made by Johnson & Johnson, among others,
may face serious health threats, including long-term disability,
British health experts report.
BBC researchers said more people are at risk from the metal
artificial hips than are affected by faulty breast implants made in
France, the subject of another recent European medical device
Their investigation found that toxic cobalt and chromium ions in
the artificial hips can penetrate tissue and enter the bloodstream,
spreading to major organs and killing bone and muscle, according to
Dr. Carl Heneghan, director of the University of Oxford's Centre
for Evidence-Based Medicine, said in a
BMJ statement that a uniform, international system to assess
and monitor implantable medical devices would help safeguard
patients around the globe.
"Creating an independent system for post-marketing analysis for implantable medical devices that is robust and increasing international coordination around device alerts and withdrawals should go some way to sorting out the current mess," Heneghan said, according to Bloomberg.
In December, reports that breast implants made by Poly Implants
Protheses SA were leaking industrial silicone led French and German
officials to recommend that thousands of women have the implants
The hips the researchers studied included those made by New
Jersey-based J&J; Zimmer Holdings of Indiana, and a London
company, Smith & Nephew Plc (SN).
Because medical devices don't need the same type of clinical
testing in Europe required of new drugs, the hips were implanted in
patients without adequate safety studies, the researchers said.
Potentially risky design changes made over the past 10 years
weren't flagged by regulators and brought to the attention of
doctors and patients.
Heneghan said procedures for medical device approval in Europe
are less stringent than in the United States. In the United States,
tests of medical devices are government-run under the Food and Drug
Administration, and manufacturers must provide proof of safety and
effectiveness. In the EU, however, manufacturers need only prove
the devices are safe, and they can choose from about 70 private
firms, called "notified bodies," to test their products, the
Bloomberg report stated. Approval from one firms enables the
manufacturer to market the device throughout the 27 EU nations.
Study co-author Nick Freemantle, professor of clinical
epidemiology and biostatistics at University College London, said
the current approval standards are dated. "The methods of device
regulation seem to be more from the 1950s than the 21st century,"
he wrote in the study,
Americans Rushing to the ER for Toothaches
For toothaches and other routine dental care, more Americans are
showing up at hospital emergency rooms, driving up health-care
costs in the process, a new report of U.S. dental trends finds.
Between 2006 and 2009, visits to ERs for dental problems jumped
16 percent nationwide, even though ERs lack the staff to handle
many dental services, according to the Pew Center on the States
report, released Tuesday.
The recent recession, which led many people to drop preventive
dental care, and a shortage of dentists in rural areas may have
contributed to the trend, experts said, according to the
Associated Press. Also, low Medicaid fees paid to dentists may make it more difficult for poor families to get regular dental care, they said.
According to the study, 56 percent of children enrolled in
Medicaid never saw a dentist in 2009, the
"Emergency rooms are really the canary in the coal mine. If people are showing up in the ER for dental care, then we've got big holes in the delivery of care," Shelly Gehshan, who directs Pew's children's dental campaign, told the AP. "It's just like pouring money down a hole. It's the wrong service, in the wrong setting, at the wrong time."
And, after obtaining emergency dental treatment, many patients
make return visits to the ER instead of seeking less expensive
follow-up care in a dentist's office, said the researchers, who
reviewed ER data from 24 states, information from the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality, and other dental-care
Condom-Use Errors Common, Study Finds
An analysis of data from 50 studies across 14 countries finds
that errors in using condoms are common and could contribute to
unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections.
Stephanie Sanders and colleagues at The Kinsey Institute for
Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University
looked at 16 years of data on the issue, mainly from the United
States and Britain.
They found that:
The findings were reported in the journal
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