Auto plant closures tied to surge in opioid overdose deaths

(Reuters Health) – Opioid overdose deaths have spiked in the wake of automotive assembly plant closures across the U.S. South and Midwest, a new study suggests.

FILE PHOTO: A syringe filled a narcotic, an empty syringe and a spoon sit on the roof of a car, where a man in his 20’s overdosed on opioids in Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S., August 14, 2017. Picture taken August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Plant closures were associated with an 85% surge in opioid overdose mortality rates among working-age adults five years later, compared with what would have been expected if these factories had remained open, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine.

U.S. vaping-related deaths rise to 55, cases of illness to 2,561

FILE PHOTO: A man uses a vape device in this illustration picture, September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) – U.S. health officials said on Tuesday one more death occurred since last week from a mysterious respiratory illness tied to vaping, taking the total toll to 55.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reported 2,561 cases from the illness associated with use of e-cigarettes, or vaping products, as of Dec. 27.

A Reality Check On Artificial Intelligence: Are Health Care Claims Overblown?

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Health products powered by artificial intelligence, or AI, are streaming into our lives, from virtual doctor apps to wearable sensors and drugstore chatbots.

IBM boasted that its AI could “outthink cancer.” Others say computer systems that read X-rays will make radiologists obsolete.

“There’s nothing that I’ve seen in my 30-plus years studying medicine that could be as impactful and transformative” as AI, said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and executive vice president of Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif. AI can help doctors interpret MRIs of the heart, CT scans of the head and photographs of the back of the eye, and could potentially take over many mundane medical chores, freeing doctors to spend more time talking to patients, Topol said.

Diet Dr Pepper does not promise weight loss or deceive consumers: U.S. appeals court

(Reuters) – A U.S. federal appeals court on Monday said the maker of Diet Dr Pepper did not deceive consumers into thinking the soft drink promoted weight loss by including “diet” in its name, a decision that could doom a similar lawsuit over Diet Coke.

FILE PHOTO: Dr Pepper soda cans for sale are pictured at a grocery store in Pasadena, California, U.S., February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected California resident Shana Becerra’s claim that Dr Pepper/Seven Up, now part of Keurig Dr Pepper Inc, misled consumers, including through ads featuring physically attractive models, and that its conduct violated California consumer fraud laws.

Eye injuries from laundry pods rising in U.S.

(Reuters Health) – A growing number of kids are getting chemicals from laundry detergent pods in their eyes, even as ocular injuries from other types of household cleaners steadily decline, a U.S. study suggests.

Nationwide, poison control centers received 319,508 calls from 2000 to 2016 about people getting household cleaning products in their eyes, an average of 18,795 calls a year, researchers report in the journal Eye.

Overall, the annual frequency of these calls declined by 29% during the study period. But annual calls related to laundry detergent pods surged 1,960% from 2012, when they first hit the market, through the end of 2016.

Samoa ends measles state of emergency as infection rate slows

FILE PHOTO: A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. Picture taken March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The South Pacific island nation of Samoa has lifted a six week-state of emergency after the infection rate from a measles outbreak that has swept the country started to come under control.

Samoa’s island population of just 200,000 has been gripped by the highly infectious disease that has killed 81 people, most of them babies and young children, and infected more than 5,600 people.

Hospital Group Mum As Members Pursue Patients With Lawsuits And Debt Collectors

The American Hospital Association, the biggest hospital trade group, says it promotes “best practices” among medical systems to treat patients more effectively and improve community health.

But the powerful association has stayed largely silent about hospitals suing thousands of patients for overdue bills, seizing homes or wages and even forcing families into bankruptcy.

Atlantic Health System, whose CEO is the AHA’s chairman, Brian Gragnolati, has sued patients for unpaid bills thousands of times this year, court records show, including a family struggling to pay bills for three children with cystic fibrosis.

Chicken pox outbreak forces migrant shelter to shutter in northern Mexico

A migrant carrying his daughter prays at the government-run Leona Vicario migrant shelter, temporarily closed by health authorities following a varicela outbreak between Central American migrants that have been sent by the U.S. government to wait out their asylum court dates in Mexico, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) – An outbreak of chicken pox has forced the temporary closure of a shelter housing Central American migrants sent to Mexico from the United States, Mexican authorities said on Friday, as officials sought to contain the highly contagious virus.

Online triage tool may help patients decide if they need immediate care

(Reuters Health) – An online tool that analyzes symptoms may help people decide whether to seek immediate care in the emergency room or to adopt a wait-and-see strategy, a new study suggests.

After analyzing data from more than 150,000 encounters between patients and the Buoy Health triage tool, researchers found that nearly a third of users concluded after using the tool that their situation was less dire and their need for care less urgent than originally assumed. In 4% of cases, patients decided their situation was more serious than they initially thought, according to the results published in JAMA Network Open.

‘An Arm And A Leg’: Tradition Grows Into $1 Million Gift For People In Medical Debt

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Every year — for decades — the Buehler family and friends have organized a softball tournament in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area to raise money for someone with big medical expenses.

“It’s like a holiday for us in the family,” Ed Buehler, 40, said. “You know, another one that just happens to come in July.”