Health Highlights: Aug. 19, 2007

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Sunday, August 19, 2007; 12:00 AM

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

Medicare No Longer to Pay for Preventable Hospital Errors, Injuries or Infections

Medicare is changing its coverage so that it will no longer pay for hospital incidents that could have been prevented, according to theNew York Times.

These conditions were caused by negligence or improper medical practice, theTimesreports, and the Bush administration has decided that Medicare will no longer pay the additional costs for treating them. Included are conditions and infections such as bedsores (pressure ulcers), injuries caused by falls in circumstances where they could have been prevented, and infections resulting from use of catheters for long periods.

Private insurers, too, are considering following Medicare's lead, which may cause hospital officials to place emphasis on reducing staph infections and medical errors and replacing health workers who are neglectful of patients' needs.

According to theTimes, figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that almost 100,000 people a year --about 270 a day -- die in U.S. hospitals from improper treatment or neglect.

Some of procedures have been termed "serious preventable events," such as leaving a sponge in a patient during surgery or giving a transfused patient the wrong blood type. Medicare says it will no longer reimburse hospitals for these mistakes, the newspaper reports.

"If a patient goes into the hospital with pneumonia, we don't want them to leave with a broken arm," Herb B. Kuhn, acting deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told theTimes.

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Nail Salon Workers' Mental Functioning May be Affected By Chemicals They Use, Studies Say

Are the 300,000 nail salon workers in the United States -- many of them Asian -- being negatively affected by the chemicals they use on their customers?

According to theNew York Times, two recent studies indicate that the danger does exist and may affect mental acuity, both in those who work in nail salons and those whose mothers did.


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