Review Category : Health

Study: Regular and Decaf Coffee Boosts Liver Health

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Coffee has lovingly been referred to as the “nectar of the gods.” Although the beverage doesn’t necessarily have magical powers, there’s something in coffee that benefits one of our essential organs — the liver.

That’s the finding of a study from the National Cancer Institute, which contends that either caffeinated or decaf coffee helps to boost liver health.

According to researcher Dr. Qian Xiao, it’s something other than caffeine that is beneficial to the organ.

While Qian and his team don’t know what specifically provides its medicinal value, the fact is that people who consume three or more cups a day, as opposed to non-drinkers, lowered abnormal enzymes that can hurt the liver.

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Ebola Protocol Breach Raises Questions About Where to Treat Patients

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — The protocol breach at a Texas hospital being blamed for a health care worker being infected with Ebola, the first person to contract the disease in the United States, raised concerns about whether hospitals are prepared to treat the virus.

The health care worker was among the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital staff who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. The hospital is not one of the four in the U.S. with units specialized to handle diseases like Ebola.

“The comments from CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] early on that this could be done in any hospital that is used to doing isolation just doesn’t ring true to me,” ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said.

“Groups like Doctors Without Borders, they have incredible training in this, and they practice it, and it’s the practicing that ensures that you don’t have a slip-up,” he said. “For our first patient in America to lead already to a health care worker getting sick really raises a concern to me.”

According to National Nurses United, the largest registered nurse union, surveys of their membership indicate that most nurses feel hospital administrations have not communicated adequately with staff about Ebola response plans.

“Reports of the infection of a nurse at the same hospital where the first U.S. patient, Thomas Eric Duncan died in Dallas only heightens the concerns for registered nurses and other frontline hospital personnel who would be among the first to respond and interact with other patients about whether their hospital is doing enough to protect health workers as well as patients and the general public,” NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said Sunday.

So far, the only two cases of Ebola that have been diagnosed in the United States have been treated at Texas Health Presbyterian.

The decision to not transfer Thomas Earl Duncan, who died of Ebola last week, to a specialized care facility was criticized by members of his family.

The CDC has not said if the patient diagnosed with Ebola on Sunday will be transferred to one of four centers across the country where health care workers are trained to specialize in treating highly infectious diseases.

“We are going to look at all opportunities to improve the level of safety and to minimize risk,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said at a press conference.

While he did not rule out transferring patients to specialized centers, Frieden said that all hospitals should be prepared to safely treat Ebola.

“We do want hospitals to have the ability to rapidly consider, isolate, and diagnose people who may have Ebola,” he said.

Even before Sunday’s announcement, hospitals from New York to Iowa to California have taken steps to try to prepare for possible Ebola cases.

Some hospitals are sending memos to staff, and others are running all-out drills, many of them following guidelines from CDC to make sure staff members know everything from how to identify possible Ebola patients to how to get out of protective gear without contaminating themselves.

All the U.S. citizens who contracted Ebola in Liberia and were brought to the United States were transported to the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit, in Omaha, and to the specialized unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Two more centers that are specialized to treat diseases like Ebola are at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland., and St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana.

The protocols put in place at Texas Health Presbyterian have been used for decades to treat Ebola, according to Frieden, and can be used in other hospitals.

But Frieden conceded that the same kind of protocol breach that led to the infection announced Suday could have occurred to other hospital workers at Texas Health Presbyterian.

“Unfortunately it is possible in the coming days that we will see additional cases of Ebola,” Frieden said. “Because the health care workers who cared for this individual [Duncan] may have had a breach of the same nature of the individual who appears now to have a preliminary positive test.”

What exactly the protocol breach was has not been identified.

The female health care worker was interviewed by investigators after she was diagnosed with Ebola, but she could not identify when the breach occurred, Frieden said.

Frieden recommended that hospitals appoint individuals to oversee medical staff and ensure that all safety protocols prescribed by the CDC in treating Ebola are followed.

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Boston Patient with Ebola-Like Symptoms Not Considered at High Risk

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — A man who showed up at a Massachusetts hospital with Ebola-like symptoms and had recently been to Liberia “does not meet criteria to be considered someone at high risk” for the disease, health officials said Sunday night.

The patient presented himself Sunday morning at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates Braintree, complaining of headache and muscle aches, and was taken by ambulance to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“After discussions with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Boston Public Health Commission and its partners have determined that the patient being evaluated at BIDMC does not meet criteria to be considered someone at high risk for Ebola,” the Boston Public Health Commission said in a statement. “The BPHC will continue to monitor this situation.”

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Dr. Ken Sands said the patient was put in isolation and was being tested for the disease. It will take about 24 to 48 hours for the results, he said.

“The first step is to assess whether the patient should be considered a suspected Ebola case,” Sands said. “We have personnel available that have been previously trained, both nurses and clinicians and other support staff and that team is here on site and available to take care of the patient.”

Hospital officials told ABC affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston that the patient was told by reception to go wait in his car and that the staff let him know that an ambulance was coming.

“Out of an abundance of caution we immediately notified authorities and the patient was securely removed from the building and put into an ambulance,” Harvard Vanguard chief of infectious disease Benjamin Kruskal said in a written statement.

Police escorted the ambulance, whose driver wore a mask and hazmat suit, to Beth Israel.

Harvard Vanguard was closed during the incident, but reopened late Sunday afternoon, WCVB-TV reported.

Across the country in Los Angeles, public health officials met an incoming plane because of concerns about a sick passenger onboard.

The female passenger was aboard United Airlines Flight 703 out of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The passenger had been vomiting and exhibiting what were thought to be flu-like symptoms before landing.

The flight landed at LAX around 2 p.m. and was diverted to a remote runway because of Ebola concerns, but it was determined she was not at risk for the disease.

Officials cited a miscommunication about where the woman had been in Africa.

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Breach in Protocol Led to New Ebola Diagnosis, Says CDC Director

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — A breach in protocol resulted in an Ebola diagnosis for a female health care worker who treated Thomas Earl Duncan, the first Ebola patient in the United States, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday.

The female health care worker has been interviewed by investigators and could not identify when the breach may have happened, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

“It is deeply concerning that this infection occurred,” he said.

The health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has been isolated since reporting a low-grade fever Friday, said Frieden. The CDC will conduct further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

If test results hold, it would be the first case of Ebola contracted in the U.S.

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in a statement. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the health care worker’s family asked that her identity not be released, calling the worker a “heroic person.”

The health care worker, who’s in stable condition, had been taking her temperature twice daily under the CDC’s self-monitoring regimen since treating Duncan, said Dr. Daniel Varga with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

The apartment complex where she lives was being decontaminated Sunday, said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Officials also went door-to-door in the neighborhood and distributed leaflets about the virus.

A pet found inside her apartment is also being monitored, Rawlings said. A hazmat crew will clean the interior of the apartment later Sunday.

Anyone who had contact with the health care worker after she began showing symptoms, including other hospital staff members involved in Duncan’s care, will be monitored.

“We are confident that the precautions we have put in place will protect our health care workers,” Varga said.

ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser called the health care worker’s case concerning, adding that public health officials will need to investigate how the exposure occurred.

While the CDC has said that any hospital is capable of safely treating Ebola, Besser said health care workers need training and practice using protective equipment to do so successfully.

“I would never have gone into an Ebola ward in Africa without being dressed and decontaminated by experts,” he said. “Health care workers here should expect no less.”

The CDC has not said if the second Ebola patient will be transferred to a specialized isolation facility, like the one at Emory University in Atlanta where two American missionaries who contracted Ebola in Liberia were treated.

“I would hope they are considering that,” Besser said.

Varga didn’t say whether the health care worker was among 48 people who may have had contact with Duncan after he began showing symptoms. Varga said she was considered “low-risk” to contract the virus.

Duncan died Wednesday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been isolated during his treatment. His medical records show he had a 103-degree fever when he initially went to the hospital, but was sent home with antibiotics and Tylenol.

He returned to the hospital two days later when his symptoms worsened.

Duncan, who hails from Liberia, had arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20 to visit family members in Dallas.

While the health care worker undergoes treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the hospital will divert its emergency care services to surrounding hospitals, Varga said.

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Michigan Toddler Dies from Enterovirus

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — A toddler in Michigan has died from Enterovirus D-68.

Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit says 21 month old Madeleine Reid died Friday afternoon. The hospital said in a statement, “The CDC confirmed Enterovirus D-68 after her arrival here and she subsequently succumbed to her illness.”

Last week, a four-year-old New Jersey boy became the first official fatality directly caused by the virus.

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Texas Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — A health care worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States who later died, has preliminarily tested positive for the deadly virus, Texas officials said Sunday.

The health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has been isolated since reporting a low-grade fever Friday, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will conduct further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

If test results hold, it would be the first case of Ebola contracted in the U.S.

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, said in a statement. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

The health care worker had been taking his temperature daily under the CDC’s self-monitoring regimen, said Dr. Daniel Varga with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The person is in stable condition.

Anyone who had contact with the health care worker after the person began showing symptoms, including other hospital staff members involved in Duncan’s care, will be monitored based on their interactions and their potential of exposure to the virus.

The health care worker’s apartment complex was being decontaminated Sunday, said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser called the case concerning, adding that public health officials will need to investigate how the exposure occurred.

While the CDC has said that any hospital is capable of safely treating Ebola, Besser said health care workers need training and practice using protective equipment to do so successfully.

“I would never have gone into an Ebola ward in Africa without being dressed and decontaminated by experts,” he said. “Health care workers here should expect no less.”

Duncan died Wednesday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been isolated during his treatment. His medical records show he had a 103-degree fever when he initially went to the hospital, but was sent home with antibiotics and Tylenol. He returned to the hospital two days later when his symptoms worsened.

Duncan, who hails from Liberia, had arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20 to visit family members in Dallas.

His neighbors in Monrovia told ABC News that he had helped carry a vomiting pregnant woman to get help, but his records revealed that he told the hospital he hadn’t been in contact with anyone who was sick, according to The Associated Press.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital were aware Duncan had recently been in Africa.

Health officials in Texas have been monitoring about 50 people who may have had contact with Duncan after he began showing symptoms.

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CA Health Officials Warn of Botulism Risk in Pumpkin Seed Pesto Sauce

Hemera/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — The California Department of Public Health is warning consumers of recalled Williams-Sonoma Pumpkin Seed Pesto sauce due to a potential botulism risk.

The food may have been improperly produced, officials said Friday, making it susceptible to contamination with Clostridium botulinum.

Ingestion of the toxin from improperly processed jarred and canned foods can lead to serious illness and death, according to health officials.

The recalled pesto sauce bears the SKU numbers 6404305 and 6389043, and is sold in Williams-Sonoma stores nationwide.

Consumers who purchased any of the product is encouraged to discard the food immediately and wear gloves when handling, or wash hands with soap and running water.

Symptoms of botulism include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, and dry or sore throat.

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Viral Post Helps Teen Get Sight-Saving Surgery

Tim Pannell/Fuse/Thinkstock(CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.) — A viral post on social media is being credited with helping give a North Carolina teen a chance to get surgery that might save his sight.

Jonathan Dase, 15, said he’s “excited” to get an operation that may give him a chance at the career he dreamed of: joining the Air Force.

Jonathan, of Camp Lejeune, N.C., suffers from keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease that occurs when the collagen in the cornea starts to weaken. As the collagen weakens, the cornea starts to bulge out, causing vision problems including blurred sight and double vision.

He was diagnosed just months ago after he first started to notice vision from his right eye was blurry.

Jonathan’s mother Billie Dase said she initially didn’t think much of it.

“Being a teenage boy, I thought he was trying to get out of doing homework,” she said.

After the high school sophomore’s sight problems continued for several days, Dase took Jonathan to eye doctors. He eventually was diagnosed with keratoconus.

The diagnosis meant Jonathan would not be able to drive a car, play football or ever serve in any branch of the military.

“He looked at me that look like ‘Mom, do something,'” Dase recalled after her son heard the diagnosis. “I knew there was nothing that I could do…and I started to feel myself get upset. I excused myself from the room and let out my tears.”

Doctors gave few options for Jonathan. One was a cornea transplant that would happen after his eyesight had deteriorated further. The operation is invasive and in rare cases can result in blindness.

Another was a less invasive treatment that involved a small implant and a specialized vitamin to strengthen the collagen.

Dase said that the second procedure was not going to be fully covered by insurance, so the family started working on fundraising for the surgery. Jonathan’s eyesight had worsened tremendously in just a few months from perfect 20/20 vision to 20/80 vision.

After three months of fundraisers, Dase said the family got “nowhere.” Finally the family set up an online fundraiser page and started to post Jonathan’s story on Facebook and Instagram. The wife of another military member saw the post and started tweeting them to celebrities who had been former military members.

One of the respondents was former-talk show host Montel Williams. A former Marine, Williams immediately got the family in touch with Los Angeles ophthalmologist Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, who specializes in the delicate eye surgery Jonathan needs and whom Williams had interviewed for his show.

“I knew I had to do something and I just happened to remember having interviewed a doctor who was a leading specialist in treating Jon’s condition, so I connected them,” read an emailed statement from Willliams. “As a veteran, I know the sacrifices this family makes daily. In their time of need, a family that represents the best of us deserves the best care available and they found that in Dr. Boxer Wachler.”

After local news reports began to report on the story, Dase said money started to pour in to the online fundraising page.

Boxer Wachler said he also looked into fundraising for the surgery.

“We had put out information to our own community and had a donor step up and donate funds for Jonathan’s procedures,” Boxer Wachler told ABC News.

During two procedures, Dase will have a small implant put into his eye to correct the bulging cornea and have a special solution made from UV light-sensitive vitamins that will strengthen the collagen in Jonathan’s eye.

Since their online fundraising took off, the family now has more than enough money to cover the family’s expenses to fly to Los Angeles and stay at a hotel and help with Jonathan’s recovery, Dase said.

Jonathan now has hope he’ll be able to get to do all the things he had planned on, Dase said. She said her plan is now to work on getting the military to not exempt Jonathan solely on his diagnosis.

“The next process after the surgery is try to get the policy overturned,” Dase said.

Williams said he might be able to help the family again with that effort. He told ABC News through email he was going to contact senior military members about the policy.

“It’s a policy in my view, that is in need of updating,” Williams said.

For Jonathan, the surgery is exciting because it will let him get back to the life he had before the diagnosis including “being able to drive and play football again.”

“It was really cool,” Jonathan said of the post that will lead him to get sight-saving surgery.

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Nursing Home Chain Agrees to Pay $38 Million to Settle Failure of Care Claims

Svetl/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Justice announced a resolution to a series of substandard care claims against Extendicare Health Services on Friday, with the nursing home chain agreeing to pay $38 million.

Extendicare, one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, has 146 facilities in 11 states. Accusations of “failure of care” were filed against the chain, and the settlement was described by the Justice Department as the largest False Claims Act settlement every entered into by a nursing home chain.

The chain was accused of failing to provide appropriate catheter care, failing to follow protocols to prevent pressure sores or falls by residents and failure to safely administer medication. Residents were found to be, in some cases, injured, malnourished or dehydrated, some of which required unnecessary hospitalization or in some cases, amputation.

Additionally, the chain allegedly pushed some patients in unnecessary rehab therapy so that the Extendicare could collect from Medicare and Medicaid.

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Nursing Home Chain Agrees to Pay $38 Million to Settle Failure of Care Claims

Svetl/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Justice announced a resolution to a series of substandard care claims against Extendicare Health Services on Friday, with the nursing home chain agreeing to pay $38 million.

Extendicare, one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, has 146 facilities in 11 states. Accusations of “failure of care” were filed against the chain, and the settlement was described by the Justice Department as the largest False Claims Act settlement every entered into by a nursing home chain.

The chain was accused of failing to provide appropriate catheter care, failing to follow protocols to prevent pressure sores or falls by residents and failure to safely administer medication. Residents were found to be, in some cases, injured, malnourished or dehydrated, some of which required unnecessary hospitalization or in some cases, amputation.

Additionally, the chain allegedly pushed some patients in unnecessary rehab therapy so that the Extendicare could collect from Medicare and Medicaid.

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