Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Obama to Address VA Allegations
Allegations of serious problems at Veterans Affairs health
facilities will be addressed by President Barack Obama after a
White House meeting Wednesday morning with top officials.
The president was to meet with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and
Rob Nabors, a longtime Obama adviser who has been assigned to
oversee a review of VA policies, the
There are allegations that as many as 40 veterans have died
while waiting for treatment at a Phoenix VA hospital, and that a
secret list of patients waiting for appointments was used to hide
delays in care.
The White House says Obama continues to have confidence in
Shinseki, whose resignation is being demanded by some lawmakers,
Under a bill being readied for a House vote Wednesday, Shinseki
would be given more power to fire or demote about 450 VA officials
who serve as hospital directors or executives in the agency's 21
Late Tuesday, the VA's Office of Inspector General said the
number of VA facilities under investigation in now 26, compared to
10 last week, the
While the White House shares the bill's objectives of ensuring
accountability at the VA, there are concerns about some of the
details in the measure, according to presidential spokesman Jay
The VA has a "well-documented reluctance to ensure its leaders
are held accountable for mistakes," said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.
He chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee and sponsored the
Congress has an obligation to "give the VA secretary the
authority he needs to fix things. That's what my bill would do,"
In related news, two Republican senators introduced a bill that
would stop payment of bonuses to Veterans Health Administration
employees through next year, the
In February, the House passed a bill to do away with performance
bonuses for the department's senior executive staff through
End Bird Flu Animal Experiments: Experts
Two American scientists are calling for an end to bird flu
research in lab animals due to the possibility that the virus could
escape and cause a worldwide outbreak.
The Harvard and Yale experts stated their objections in an
opinion piece published Tuesday in the journal
PLoS Medicine. They said the potential rewards of creating a
new strain of bird flu in ferrets do not justify the risks,
One of the authors was Marc Lipsitch, a professor of
epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. He said
mistakes have occurred before, and noted there is some evidence
that a flu strain that's been common since the late 1970s was
released by a Russian or Chinese lab.
"There really are a lot of things we can and are doing that are much more likely to yield benefits and also don't put anyone at risk," Lipsitch said, USA Todayreported. "We should support safe and effective research rather than risky research."
However, researchers who conduct bird flu experiments with lab
animals say their efforts improve understanding of bird flu in a
way that would not be possible using other methods.
Portable Bed Handles Recalled After Three Deaths
About 113,000 portable bed handles for adults' beds are being
recalled by Bed Handles Inc. because the products pose a serious
risk and have been linked to three deaths, the U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission says.
If attached to a bed without the use of safety retention straps,
the handles can shift out of place and create a gap between the bed
handle and the side of the mattress, resulting in a risk of
entrapment, strangulation and death.
The three people who died became trapped between the bed handles
and the mattress. They included two elderly women and a 41-year-old
disabled woman, the CPSC said.
The recalled bed handles, which were sold from 1994 through
2007, do not have safety retention straps to secure them to the bed
frame. The recalled models include the Original Bedside Assistant,
the Travel Handles, sold as a set of two bed handles, and the
Adjustable Bedside Assistant.
For more information, call Bed Handles Inc. at 1-800-725-6903
between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or go to
the company's website. Bed Handles is offering free safety
retention straps for the recalled handles.
Chinese-Made Pet Jerky Treats Pulled From Petco Stores
Dog and cat jerky treats made in China will no longer be sold at
Petco stores, the company says.
It announced Monday that all such products will be pulled from
the more than 1,300 Petco stores across the United States by the
end of the year,
Petco is the first national pet retail chain to take such
action. It comes days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
said that jerky treats -- mostly made in China -- had been linked
with more than 1,000 dog deaths, nearly 5,000 illnesses in dogs and
cats, and some cases of illness in people.
The Chinese-made jerky treats will be replaced by products made
in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and South America,
Drug Official Says U.S. Faces 'Heroin Crisis'
The United States is facing a "nationwide heroin crisis," a top
federal drug official warns.
The number of heroin addicts and abusers increased 75 percent in
the last four years, Assistant Secretary of State William
Brownfield said Tuesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee
hearing on U.S.-Mexican relations, the
While the U.S. has improved its ability to disrupt cocaine and
methamphetamine supplies from Latin America, the amount of pure
heroin entering the country has doubled, according to Brownfield,
who heads the State Department's international narcotics and law
Once mainly a problem in cities, law enforcement officials say
heroin has spread to middle-class suburbs and rural areas, the
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