Health Highlights: Nov. 13, 2013

By on November 13, 2013

Health Highlights: Nov. 13, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

J&J Reaches Tentative Settlement in Hip Implant Lawsuits

A tentative deal to settle thousands of lawsuits over a defective hip implant has been reached by Johnson & Johnson and could cost the company up to $4 billion, according to two lawyers briefed on the plan.

They told The New York Times that an announcement about the settlement, which must win court approval, is expected in the coming days. If it goes ahead, it would be one of the largest payouts for product liability claims involving a medical device.

The lawsuits center on an all-metal replacement hip called the Articular Surface Replacement (ASR). It was sold by J&J’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit until mid-2010, when it was recalled due to high failure rates. As it wears, the product releases metallic debris that damages tissue and can cause crippling injuries.

Under the settlement, each patient would receive an average of about $350,000, but that figure will vary depending on factors such as a patient’s age and health, the lawyers told The Times.

The deal is limited to patients who have been forced to have the ASR device removed and replaced with another artificial hip. Patients with the device who have not had a replacement won’t be eligible for compensation.

A DePuy Orthopaedics spokesperson declined to comment on the possibility of a settlement, The Times reported.


Bill to Get Schools to Stock Food Allergy Drug Goes to President

A bill that offers a financial incentive to states if their schools stock a medication for severe food allergies is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama.

Epinephrine is considered the first-line treatment for people with severe allergies and is administered by injection through preloaded EpiPens or similar devices., It can be used to treat severe allergic reactions — called anaphylaxis — to food as well as insect bites, medications, and latex, the Associated Press reported.

Having epinephrine on hand is one of the recommendations in recently-released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to schools on how to protect students with food allergies. And several states have passed or are considering bills making epinephrine available in schools.

“Everything is moving in the direction which adheres to our mission, which is to keep kids safe and included in schools,” John Lehr, the chief executive officer of the Food Allergy Research and Education advocacy organization, told the AP.

A recent CDC survey found that about 1 in 20 U.S. children have food allergies, a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s.


NASCAR Driver Trevor Bayne Has Multiple Sclerosis

Race car driver Trevor Bayne has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but says he will continue to race in NASCAR.

Bayne, 22, underwent extensive testing at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and has been cleared to race by doctors and NASCAR. He said Tuesday he isn’t taking medication and doesn’t expect to make any lifestyle changes, USA Today reported.

The diagnosis was made in the summer, a few weeks after Bayne won at Iowa Speedway. The Roush Fenway Racing driver had symptoms such as numbness in his arm, blurred vision, nausea and fatigue.

It was Bayne’s decision to reveal his MS diagnosis, which will not affect his status with sponsors or the team, said Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark, USA Today reported.


Emergency Care Providers Have Poor Hand Hygiene: Survey

Only 13 percent of emergency medical personnel say they clean their hands before touching patients, according to a survey of nearly 1,500 emergency care providers.

It also found that only 52 percent of the respondents — which included first responders, emergency medical providers, paramedics and doctors — said that they wear gloves for every patient contact, CBS News reported.

Only one-third of emergency medical providers said they cleaned their hands after performing invasive procedures, according to the findings presented in October at the American College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting.

“What we found was a little concerning,” Dr. Josh Bucher, a resident at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and one of the study’s authors, told CBS News.

Good hand hygiene by health care providers is crucial in reducing the risk of transmitting germs to patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

In the United States, about one in every 20 hospital patients develops a health care-related infection each year. Such infections can lead to death, CBS News reported.

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