Teen Drinkers Risk Permanent Brain Damage


Posted on 27th January 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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I always chuckle, then sigh, when some reporter or researcher thinks they have discovered a “new” hazard to brain health. I heard last year that Traumatic Brain Injury was a new injury, stemming from Iraq. Not. Now the latest in this long line of “discoveries” is that drinking can cause brain damage. How do you say: Duh?

Still, it is good to remind teens and parents of what a recent study by the University of California, San Diego, found, NPR reported Monday.

In its online story, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122765890&ps;=cprs, NPR reports that the school compared brain scans of teens who drank heavily to those that don’t.

The youths who drank had damaged nerve tissue, so-called “white matter” in their brains. That kind of damage can lead to shortening a boy’s attention span and negatively impact a girl’s comprehension and interpretation of visual information, NPR said.

(What are they serious? Like it wouldn’t affect a girl’s attention span to damage the electrical connections within the brain, or negatively impact a boy’s comprehensions? )

During teen years, certain areas of the brain are still forming and are more vulnerable to drugs and alcohol, which is why youths risk more than a hangover by drinking.

The study found that binge drinkers – having four or five drinks at a time, two or three times a month, performed worse on memory and cognitive tests than those who didn’t. Academics and alcohol apparently don’t mix. If they think that is “binge drinking”, they have obviously not been outside of their laboratories for a long time. What is perhaps most significant about this study is how little alcohol it took to show a material change in the adolescent brain.

Seriously, alcohol can cause brain damage and the younger the person, the more vulnerable the brain to the effects. But alcohol is far more serious in other ways, such as a cause of serious car wrecks, of addiction, of alcohol poisoning, where true binge drinking – the kind where a person’s blood alcohol reaches .3% or above – can kill. That which can kill, will cause brain damage if it falls short of a fatal dose.

Remember the time when pregnant women still drank?

Hospital told to pay damages for mistaking babies


Posted on 20th July 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Even under American law, this would be a tough case to determine damages. How does a couple effectively argue that they have been wronged for loving a child for 16 years, even if it is the wrong child? Similar issues have thwarted efforts to get compensation for botched birth control methods as well. But those issues notwithstanding, $55,793 for giving a couple the wrong child, seems a little on the light side.

What happened to the other child? Isn’t that a form of kidnapping?

And what about the other family?

Attorney Gordon Johnson

Date: 7/20/2009 7:08 AM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean court has ordered a hospital to pay 70 million won ($55,793) in damages to a couple that raised the wrong daughter for 16 years because of a hospital mistake.

Seoul Central District court judge Kim Sung-soo said Monday the court made the ruling earlier this month. He did not give details.

Local media say the couple gave birth to a baby girl at the hospital in 1992. They began suspecting she may not be their daughter because her blood type A did not match theirs.

A DNA test confirmed their suspicions and the hospital acknowledged their mistake last year.

The hospital is refusing to disclose information on their biological daughter citing privacy.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Obama Appoints Black Woman Surgeon General


Posted on 13th July 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Ironically, as the first Hispanic woman appointed to the Supreme Court begins her nomination, Barack Obama announces a black woman to be the new Surgeon General. Clearly, Obama finds exceptionally well qualified women to fill these important posts.

Attorney Gordon Johnson

Date: 7/13/2009 10:04 AM

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Eds: APNewsNow. Will be led.
BC-US–Surgeon General, US

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press has learned that President Barack Obama has chosen a well-known Alabama family physician, Dr. Regina Benjamin, to be the next surgeon general.

An administration official said Obama will announce the nomination later Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to upstage the official announcement.

Benjamin was the first black woman to head a state medical society, received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and just last fall received a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” But she made headlines in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with her determination to rebuild her rural health clinic Bayou La Batre, Ala., which serves 4,400 patients who would be hard-pressed to find care elsewhere.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

TV ad war begins over health overhaul


Posted on 6th July 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 7/6/2009 5:40 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE — An occasional look at political ads and what’s behind them.

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Staring at the camera, Canadian citizen Shona Holmes says a brain tumor would have killed her had she relied on her government-run health plan that would have provided treatment far too late. “Now, Washington wants to bring Canadian-style health care to the U.S.,” a narrator says darkly.

The television ad from a conservative group is dramatic — but deceptive.

In fact, President Barack Obama and Democrats pushing to overhaul health care want to create an optional, government-run plan to compete with private insurers, not replace them. As Obama told a health forum last week, “We’re not suddenly just going to completely upend the system. We want to build on what works about the system and fix what’s broken about the system.”

The ad is part of a handful of commercials that are expected to grow this summer in both numbers and criticism as detailed health bills emerge from Congress and dozens of interest groups, companies and labor unions tussle over influencing lawmakers.

Through June 27, $31 million has been spent for roughly 47,000 TV ads on health care this year, says Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, a firm that tracks issue advertising. That’s double the roughly $14 million the insurance industry spent in 1993 and 1994 for the famous “Harry and Louise” ads credited with helping kill President Bill Clinton’s health care drive, but a fraction of the $250 million Tracey guesses will ultimately be spent this year.

Hoping to shape the early debate, the initial ads are “really being aimed at some people in the administration, some people on Capitol Hill, a whole bunch of reporters, a few bloggers,” Tracey said. As Congress’ direction becomes clearer and interest groups seek public support, “then I think you’re going to see the spending go on a hockey stick curve straight up,” he said.

So far, Tracey said about $15 million has been spent on ads favoring the Democrats’ push to revamp the health care system and $4 million to oppose it. Another $12 million has gone to ads generally favoring better health care — nearly all of it by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, representing drug makers, which hopes its market will expand if more people have insurance.

These figures might be too low, with several groups reporting higher figures reflecting costs Tracey doesn’t track.

Ken Johnson, spokesman for the pharmaceutical group, says the association has spent tens of millions on television ads since late 2008, thanking lawmakers for supporting previous health initiatives or urging them to support a comprehensive effort this year.

“It’s conditioning the environment, it’s setting the table for the debate to come,” he said.

The ad with Shona Holmes — who says she borrowed and saved money for a crucial operation in the United States — exemplifies how groups are intent on bending the debate toward their agendas.

Its sponsor, Patients United Now, is an offshoot of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a privately funded, Washington-based conservative group that believes in limited government and cutting taxes. Among its directors are businessman and conservative activist Art Pope and James C. Miller, a top Reagan administration official.

The group says it has spent nearly $1.8 million running the ad in Washington, D.C., and 11 states with senators on committees writing health care bills or ones seen as wavering. Patients United spokeswoman Amy Menefee says the ad is fair because giving government more control over health care would be a slippery slope toward increasing the federal role, and because some Democrats still favor government-only insurance.

Dominating the spending among opponents is Conservatives for Patients Rights, led and largely financed by Rick Scott, who was ousted as chief of the Columbia/HCA health care company during a fraud probe that ultimately saw the firm plead guilty to overbilling charges. Spokesman Brian Burgess says the group has spent over $4.5 million on TV ads that have run hundreds of times this year, mostly criticizing public health coverage.

On the other side, progressive and labor groups have not been shy about using ads to assail Democrats viewed as insufficiently loyal in the struggle.

Health Care for America Now says it plans to spend $11 million on TV ads. The group is funded by labor, liberal groups and the progressive Atlantic Philanthropies, an international grant-making foundation whose president, Gara LaMarche, worked previously for billionaire Democratic donor George Soros.

Its latest ad: A $1.1 million campaign aimed at prodding senators of both parties from 10 states to support a public health insurance option. Targets include Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who HCAN says has not shown strong enough support for the government-run option.

“Tell Senator Wyden, it’s your health, it should be your choice,” the ad says.

MoveOn.org and other liberal groups began airing a 60-second ad on Friday in Louisiana criticizing Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., for not yet embracing a public insurance plan. They also dropped plans to run ads challenging Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., after she expressed support for a bill containing a government insurance option.

Last Tuesday, the Laborers International Union of North America began airing ads in the home states of Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., criticizing them for considering a tax on workers’ employer-provided medical benefits to help finance the overhaul.

Union spokesman Jacob Hay says the ads, which had been scheduled to run through Friday, were pulled after a request from Baucus aides. Baucus has agreed to meet with the union’s president, Terence O’Sullivan, to discuss the legislation.

“Ads really do get their attention quickly,” Hay said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Scrub tech may have exposed thousands to hepatitis


Posted on 3rd July 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 7/2/2009 11:56 PM

DENVER (AP) — A former surgery technician may have exposed thousands of Colorado patients to hepatitis C when she swapped her own dirty syringes for ones filled with a powerful narcotic, federal authorities said Thursday.

Kristen Diane Parker faces criminal charges for allegedly making the swaps while working at Audubon Ambulatory Surgery Center in Colorado Springs and Rose Medical Center in Denver.

Authorities say Parker admitted to changing out syringes containing a saline solution with ones filled with the painkiller Fentanyl. Parker injected herself with the drug, according to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver.

An affidavit by Mary F. LaFrance, an investigator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says at least nine surgery patients at Rose have tested positive for hepatitis C, which is incurable. About 6,000 patients are being advised they may have been exposed and need to be tested.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease that can cause serious liver problems, including cirrhosis or liver cancer. The illness is treatable, but there is no cure. Symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, pain and jaundice.

Rose Medical Center officials told a news conference Thursday night they were working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine whether Parker was the source of the virus.

It could not be determined Thursday night whether Parker had an attorney.

Parker worked at Rose from Oct. 21, 2008, until April. Hospital officials say she was suspended April 13, before they learned of the cases, and then fired. She had failed a drug test by testing positive for Fentanyl.

Parker went to work for the Audubon surgery center shortly after being fired. She worked there from May 4 until Monday, Dr. J. Michael Hall, Audubon’s medical director, told The Gazette in Colorado Springs.

If convicted of tampering with a consumer product and other charges, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine on the most serious charge of tampering.


Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazette.com

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.