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dcautowreck32821wusa-300x1942021 has become a torment for the safety of the nation’s roads, as the country between January and June hit its largest six-month percentage increase in fatalities in the half-century U.S. officials have kept such records.

In the first half of ‘21, 20,160 people died in vehicle wrecks — an 18.4% increase over the comparable period in the year before.

That six-month vehicular death toll, which only now is becoming official, also was the highest recorded in 15 years.

cnncovidicu-300x242When hospitals too often fail to disclose and to adequately deal with their problems, patients and their loved ones suffer. That’s what happened during the coronavirus pandemic, when individuals admitted for other reasons were infected in hospitals and died of Covid-19 at alarming rates.

The federal government, separately, also is stepping up its efforts to get hospitals to comply with U.S. regulations to foster greater transparency in institutions’ pricing of medical goods and services.

The independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News (KHN) service, to its credit, has dug into publicly available data to show how Covid-19 became the latest problem pathogen spread in hospitals — part of the menace long known as HAIs or hospital acquired infections.

dcvaxmayorbowsernbcwashington-300x229Even as the coronavirus batters parts of the country, notably the Mountain West, public health officials are pointing to key ways in which Americans could safely and effectively further quell the pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and infected tens of millions.

Children ages 5 to 12 have been approved for emergency use for a lower-dose Pfizer vaccine, and a third of parents who told pollsters they were eager to get their youngsters vaccinated have begun to do so at pediatricians’ offices, clinics, schools, pharmacies, and other at-the-ready sites.

Experts say vaccinating young children, atop of already approved shots for kids ages 12 and older, will provide an important safeguard to a vulnerable population of millions as well as helping to ensure they will not spread the coronavirus.

fdabreastimplantFederal regulators have toughened the requirements for surgeons and medical device makers to inform women in detail about rising risks associated with breast implants, which also now will carry the government’s sternest warning — a “black box” label cautioning about the products’ potential harms.

The implant alarms, announced after years of complaints by patients, include the Food and Drug Administration’s counseling women that implants carry significant complications and should not be considered long-lasting products, secure for extended periods after surgery. The agency also ordered manufacturers to disclose ingredients used to make the devices.

The FDA, which is seeking public comment on its new oversight, has issued a 22-page document that describes how doctors and makers should discuss with patients the risks of implants.

referee-300x176While Republicans and a handful of Democrats in Congress may be filling campaign coffers and pleasing wealthy corporations to the nth degree during the current lawmaking session, regular folks have reason to be aghast at how companies are throwing around their money and weight to get their way.

The signs are evident as to how companies are maneuvering to:

  • keep prescription drug prices sky high

canursestaffingprotest-300x149The U.S. health care system and all who rely on it may be reaching painful reckonings on how the coronavirus pandemic keeps affecting caregiving personnel, whether with highly trained nurses who are forcing hospitals to pay them more or see them leave or with poorly paid and ill-trained aides who still aren’t getting Covid-19 shots to protect themselves and their vulnerable patients.

Great doctors, of course, may be vital to patients’ positive outcomes. But ask anyone knowledgeable how hospitals succeed — or don’t — and they will point to nurses. And that’s a professional treasure that has been battered by the pandemic,  Kaiser Health News service reported in partnership with NPR and WPLN radio in Nashville, Tenn.

Broadcast news reporter Blake Farmer found in Tennessee and nationally that hospitals are struggling to maintain their nursing ranks, particularly among their most seasoned and specially trained pros. They have spent grueling months giving patients the round-the-clock, intensive care demanded in serious cases, notably for coronavirus infections.

covidshotcloseup-260x300Don’t doubt the central role that vaccines are playing in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal officials — even as the Delta-variant surge is easing — have dominated the news by approving yet more boosters for those who have gotten the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots and announcing preparations to vaccinate kids ages 5 to 12.

Experts now have endorsed boosters for the millions who have gotten Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J shots. They also approved proposals to mix and match vaccines, an approach especially advised two months after those 18 and older receive the one-shot J&J product.

friesandsalt-300x200Americans of all ages adore fast food and prepared meals, but one of the lures is these tasty items are loaded with salt. Now federal regulators have proposed new guidelines that they say could save millions of lives by reducing the salt content of commercially prepared and packaged foods.

The Food and Drug Administration’s standards, directed at food that flies out of restaurants, as well as from grocery freezers and shelves, seeks to get manufacturers, restaurants, and food services to help people cut their sodium intake by 12% in the next 2.5 years.

That may seem like a slight amount, but it could have significant effects, the New York Times reported:

vuse-117x300The federal Food and Drug Administration has infuriated health and anti-smoking advocates by handing Big Tobacco a major first — the agency’s seal of approval for an e-cigarette as a way for consumers to reduce or stop harmful use of burning tobacco cigarettes.

The decision allowing RJ Reynold’s Vuse product (shown, left) to stay on public markets is the latest in a series of disastrous actions by the agency, putting a smoking alternative for adults ahead of the health and safety of young people, critics said. They repeated their contention that  with bungled oversight on alternative delivery devices and the vaping fad, the FDA has opened the way for a new generation to get addicted to toxic nicotine and lethal tobacco items.

Erika Sward, national assistant vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association, told the New York Times this of the FDA ruling allowing an e-cigarette delivering high levels of nicotine:

Back-Pain-300x188As the nation rapidly grays, not only are middle-aged and older patients undergoing increasing numbers of knee, hip, ankle, and shoulder surgeries, back operations also have spiked — and a significant number of these procedures may be unwarranted and harmful.

Spinal surgery is a booming business for orthopedic surgeons and hospitals, with  Wall Street analysts forecasting, according to one report, that the “sales of spinal surgery implants, instruments, pharmaceuticals and other novel treatments for chronic and disabling back pain will … rise from $10 billion in 2020 to $14 billion -$ 16 billion by 2030.”

While rising numbers of patients, starting around age 42, complain of back pain and many eventually seek surgical relief, skepticism and concern may be deserved for the common, costly, and lucrative spinal fusion surgery, Modern Healthcare, an industry trade publication reported in its Oct. 5 edition.

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