Review Category : Health

Former neurosurgeon sentenced to life in prison for botched surgery

WFAA-TV(DALLAS) — A former Dallas neurosurgeon has been sentenced to life in prison after he maimed an elderly woman during surgery in 2012.

Mary Efurd testified against Dr. Christopher Duntsch, claiming his surgery was supposed to treat her chronic back pain, but instead she said the spinal fusion surgery put her in a wheelchair, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.

“I could not move my feet and legs, and my thought was something is wrong,” she said in court.

Prosecutors said the former doctor was behind several botched surgeries and repeatedly misdiagnosed patients, WFAA-TV reports. Dr. Robert Henderson, the surgeon who performed Efurd’s surgery after Duntsch, said, “He did virtually everything wrong.”

The jury found Duntsch guilty of first-degree felony injury to an elderly person. Jurors deliberated over a jail sentence between five years and life and delivered his life sentence on Monday.

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Study: Majority of parents with children at home don’t lock up prescribed opioids

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Despite a rise in opioid dependency in the U.S., a majority of parents who have prescription opioids at home do not report storing them safely, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Just 32 percent of parents of young children under the age 7 reported storing prescription opioids safely — in a latched or locked location — researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in the study. The percentage was even lower for parents of older children between the ages of 7 and 17 — 11.7 percent. Parents who had children in both age groups leaned closer to those with young children; 29 percent reported storing the medications safely.

“Our work shines a light on the pervasiveness of unsafely stored opioids in American homes with children,” study lead author Eileen McDonald, MS, faculty with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a statement Monday. “Unsafely stored opioids can contribute to accidental ingestions among younger children and pilfering by older children, especially high school students.”

The study included data from 681 adults with children in the home who had been prescribed opioid medications. They were first recruited over the phone and then took a web survey about how they stored the medications.

While illicit opioid drugs like heroin and fenatnyl have grabbed headlines, deaths from prescription opioid drugs have more than quadrupled since 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most parents indicated that they are aware of the dangers these drugs pose to children, with 70 percent of respondents saying that locking up the opioid drugs “is a good way to keep my child from getting the medication” and “would prevent my child’s friends from getting the medication,” according to the study.

But parents with younger children expressed higher concern about storing their prescription opioids. Almost three-quarters of parents agreed with the statement, “Children can overdose on OPRs more easily than adults,” but those with younger children rated the risk higher on the scale.

Dr. Donna Seger, the executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center and a professor of clinical medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said many parents know they should keep prescription drugs out of reach for very young children, but may not have the same concerns for adolescents.

“It’s not just a risk in toddlers, it’s a huge risk in adolescents,” Seger said, explaining that teens may start to experiment with different drugs at home. “The medicine cabinet is going to be an important place to get them.”

Opioid use among adolescents has continued to be a problem. Prescription opioid drugs are the second most common drugs used by 12- to 17-year-old children, after marijuana, according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“We know that teens who use these drugs recreationally frequently get them from homes where they are easily accessible, increasing their risk for addiction and overdose,” McDonald said in the statement.

Seger added that teens’ nervous systems are still developing, making them more “vulnerable” to drug use.

Overdose fatalities among adolescents and young adults doubled between 1999 and 2008, according to study authors.

Parents may be aware of the dangers around opioid drugs, Seger said, but still feel “my kid wouldn’t do it” and therefore don’t take extra steps to lock up medication.

Understanding the many risks associated with opioid medication, even those that are prescribed, is important for parents of both young children and teens, the study authors and Seger said.

“Both adolescents and parents believe they are prescribed drugs, so they must be safe,” Seger said.

The study points to the need for more research on ways to store opioids more safely in homes and promoting those methods, especially in homes with children.

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Your Body: Over-diagnosis in breast cancer patients

iStock/ThinkstockDR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

A new study out of Denmark is sparking more debate as to whether mammography can lead to unnecessary treatments in some women.

Researchers found that one in three breast tumors discovered through a mammogram may be “over-diagnosed” — meaning they’re identified as more life-threatening than they really are, which leads to unnecessary treatment.

Mammograms are not perfect. They sometimes miss cancers or detect cancers that are already advanced. But they are largely helpful and an important part of screening.

All the news and controversy on breast cancer screening exist because we’re always reassessing data in medicine in search of better clinical advancements.

I feel strongly that this is not a one-size-fits-all issue for women, so talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

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Famine declared in South Sudan

iStock/Thinkstock(UNITY STATE, South Sudan) — Parts of South Sudan are experiencing a famine as the United Nations says some 100,000 people are facing starvation, according to a BBC News report. The famine affects part of Unity State in the northern region of the country. It marks the first time in six years a famine has been announced in any part of the world.

BBC News reports a combination of civil war and economic collapse are to blame. Humanitarian groups warn the crisis could spread if they do not receive help in the affected areas of South Sudan.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Unicef report 4.9 million people are in urgent need of food. That marks over 40% of South Sudan’s population.

BBC News adds that Joyce Luma, who heads the WFP in South Sudan, says the famine was “man-made” with crop production stifled while conflict grew across the country. When South Sudan fought for independence from Sudan in 1998, it also experienced famine from civil war. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

Yemen, Somalia, and north-eastern Nigeria have been warned of the possibility of facing a famine, but South Sudan is the first to declare.

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64-year old gives birth to twins

iStock(BURGOS, Spain) — A 64-year old woman in northern Spain has given birth to healthy fraternal twins.

The mother had undergone fertility treatments in the United States. Both babies are in good health. The boy and girl weigh 5.3 lbs. and 4.8 lbs. respectively.

She delivered the babies by Caesarean section at The Recoleatas Hospital, the BBC reports.

The unnamed-woman gave birth to a girl in 2012. The child was later taken away from her care amid welfare concerns. No decision has been made regarding who will care for the twins.

Despite her age, she is not the oldest woman to ever give birth. According to the Guinness World Records, Maria del Carmen Bousada Lara have birth to twin boys at the age of 66.

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Grandma on bed rest delights social media with her stunning paintings

Courtesy of Jill Sobocinski(NEW YORK) — This grandma is delighting the internet with her stunning, colorful paintings.

Joan Holland, 83, has been on bed rest in her assisted living facility in Cranford, New Jersey, for one year, and admitted she gets bored. But recently, she rediscovered her love for Paint by Numbers, a painting kit for adults.

“I’ve been busy,” she proudly told ABC News of her handiwork. “I’ve been confined to bed rest only for a year. And you get tired of laying around in bed. I tried knitting and was good for a while, and I tried reading. But the Paint by Numbers, the painting is perfect. It was easy to set up, easy to clean up and didn’t make a big mess. And I had good results from it.”

An adorable photo of Holland showing off her masterpieces has gone viral, with more than 3,000 likes after her granddaughter, Jill Sobocinski, tweeted it.

“It was really, really beautiful to me,” Sobocinski said of her grandmother’s talents. “It brings her a lot of happiness. She loves to show them off.

“Being stuck there, she does get cranky sometimes,” Sobocinski added. “This is her outlet and her getaway. It brings her joy. Being there and seeing her do this, it’s an inspiration to me and my family. Maybe we need to take up watercolors, too.”

Sobocinski shared the photo because of Holland’s radiant smile in the photo, a rare occurrence since her grandmother has been stuck in bed.

“She doesn’t look that happy all the time, but this brings it out in her,” she said.

After Holland completes a painting, she gives them away to her nurses or family members.

“I could be in an art gallery but I don’t like to be surrounded by them,” she explained. “They’ve served my purpose and now someone else can enjoy them.”

The average painting takes her about 10 days to complete.

“I enjoy it very much,” she said. “I enjoy seeing them go along as they get more and more interesting.”

And this creative grandma has no plans of slowing down any time soon.

“I’m here for a while longer, so you’ll see more,” said Holland. “I’m already thinking about my next painting.”

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Woman suffering diabetic shock airlifted by Coast Guard from Royal Caribbean cruise ship

USCG(NEW YORK) — A 75-year-old woman experiencing diabetic shock was airlifted by the U.S. Coast Guard Saturday morning from a cruise ship located approximately 100 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The Coast Guard said its 5th District Command Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, was notified at about 9:55 a.m. that a passenger in distress was on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Anthem of the Seas.

Coast Guard Lt. Courtney Wolf, the command duty officer for the case, said, “Cases like this highlight the importance of cooperation between the Coast Guard, cruise ship personnel and local hospital staff. Today’s hoist went seamlessly due to the coordination between all involved parties, and as a result we were able to transport this individual quickly and safely.”

Diabetic shock — or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) — is a diabetes complication that can lead to unconsciousness, during which the individual has dangerously high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

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Couple reveals pregnancy by pretending to take photos of family to capture ‘authentic reaction’

Barry Page(ATLANTA) — One Atlanta couple had a novel way to reveal that they were expecting their first child.

Erika and Kareem Hall pretended to take photographs of their family, and instead of yelling, “Cheese!” they yelled, “New baby girl due in March!”

While some family members immediately understood what the couple was trying to say, for others it took a while for the news to sink in.

In the heartwarming video shared Friday on Facebook, one family member asks, “You hear that? Did you hear that?” while another exclaims, “We’re having a what?”

Erika Hall, 31, told ABC News that they decided to tell their family this way in order to “get their authentic reaction.”

“We knew we wanted to do something exciting because it was our first,” she said. “We did not tell our family that we were pregnant until we were three months pregnant, so we had been keeping a secret in for a while.”

Kareem Hall, 33, added that their reveal was perfect because “we were able to capture their actual, genuine response without them knowing it. So that was fun.”

The couple, who have been married for five years, will welcome their first child, a baby girl, next month. Before then, however, they’re looking forward to becoming parents.

“I am most looking forward to making her smile … and dancing with her, and just really trying to make every day special for her in some way,” Kareem Hall said.

“I’m looking forward to teaching her new things, teaching her about the world and … introducing her to life,” Erika Hall said. “That’ll be exciting.”

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China battling bird flu surge

Image Source/Thinkstock(BEIJING) — China is experiencing a surge in H7N9 “bird flu” infections.

According to the New York Times, on Friday, officials have confirmed eight deaths and 77 new diagnoses in February.

Authorities have closed live poultry markets across the country in an attempt to slow down the spread of the deadly virus.

The ban was implemented after a woman in her twneties and her young daughter both died after coming in contact with live poultry, the New York Times reported.

Experts fear that the virus could mutate into one that can easily pass between people.

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Hundreds of DC Zika virus tests to be re-examined after ‘technical issues’

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Officials at a Washington D.C. public health lab confirmed to ABC News that they are retesting hundreds of samples from people in the area for Zika virus over concerns about the accuracy of the original test results.

Already, samples taken from two pregnant women, who originally tested negative for the virus, have now tested positive for likely Zika infection.

The District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences Public Health Laboratory has tested hundreds of people, mainly pregnant women, for the Zika virus since last year.

Yesterday, officials from the lab announced that after identifying “technical issues” with the Zika tests in December and a subsequent review of the tests, they would be retesting hundreds of specimens for signs of the virus collected during the second half of last year.

A spokesperson for the lab clarified to ABC News that “calculation and formulation errors” led to officials stopping and reviewing the Zika tests.

In total, 409 specimens that originally tested negative, including 294 from pregnant women, have been sent for retesting. The specimens from pregnant women were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and those from men and non-pregnant women were sent to public health labs approved by the CDC. It often takes two to three weeks to receive test results that could indicate a likely Zika infection. Currently, two of 62 samples that were sent to the CDC for additional testing, and then further confirmation testing, were positive for antibodies that would indicate a possible Zika infection.

The test looks for antibodies that indicate a current or past infection from a flavivirus, a family of viruses that includes Zika. The CDC is treating the patients who tested positive as though they tested positive for the Zika virus out of caution and for monitoring.

Currently, only specimens obtained between July 14, 2016 and December 14, 2016 will be reexamined, since those collected before that date were already tested by the CDC.

Dr. Christopher Zahn, vice president of practice activities for The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), called the testing issue a “very unfortunate situation” and said it is critical that patients get updated results quickly in case they need to get extra prenatal or post-partum care.

“The CDC has prioritized these lab retests and, as they are completed, it is critical that patients are informed of the updated results so they can follow-up appropriately based on current clinical recommendations,” Zahn said in a statement. “ACOG and the CDC have been in contact and continue to consult and collaborate and will issue any additional necessary information.”

The issue should serve as a reminder that “Zika is still a very serious public health crisis,” he said, and that the public, as well as doctors and health officials, should remain vigilant.

“ACOG will continue to work closely with obstetric providers and offer the most up-to-date clinical guidance,” he added.

Lab officials said they expect to have all retested sample results back in the next four weeks.

Zika infection in adults often has mild symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the CDC, and approximately one in five people infected with the virus shows symptoms. Severe complications from Zika that require hospitalization are rare, and most people are over the worst of the symptoms after a week, according to the CDC.

In pregnant women, the virus has been found to be associated with fetal development issues and can cause birth defects including microcephaly, which is characterized by an abnormally small head.

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