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Friday, Apr 18th

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Unreported Robot Surgery Injuries Open Questions for FDA

robot surgeriesWhen Sheena Wilson, 45, underwent robotic surgery for a hysterectomy in May, she didn’t know the Intuitive Surgical Inc. system used by her doctor was previously tied to a variety of injuries for the same procedure.

Her rectum was badly burned in the operation, said Wilson, a mother of two from Parlin, New Jersey. Now she is on long-term disability, fearful of losing her job and facing a third corrective surgery, she said in a telephone interview.

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A half million U.S. surgeries on knee cartilage may be unnecessary

knee surgeryFinnish researchers found repairing meniscal cartilage in the knee is no more effective than a placebo and about 500,000 U.S. surgeries may be unnecessary.

Adjunct Professor Teppo Jarvinen of the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital and Raine Sihvonen of Hatanpaa Hospital in Tampere said the most common diagnosis of the knee that requires treatment is a tear in the meniscus -- the shock-absorbing cartilage of the knee. Most of the treated meniscal tears are degenerative -- caused by aging, not trauma.

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"Let the Crime Spree Begin": How Fraud Flourishes in Medicare's Drug Plan

Medicare prescription drug fraudToday, credit card companies routinely scan their records for fraud, flagging or blocking suspicious charges as they happen. Yet Medicare’s massive drug program has a process so convoluted and poorly managed that fraud flourishes, giving rise to elaborate schemes that quickly siphon away millions of dollars.

Frustrated investigators for law enforcement, insurers and pharmacy chains say they don’t see evidence that Medicare officials are doing much to stop it.

“It’s kind of a black hole,” said Alanna Lavelle, director of investigations for WellPoint Inc., which provides drug coverage to about 1.4 million people in the program, known as Part D.

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Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Found At Fracking Sites Linked To Cancer, Infertility: Study

fracking linked to cancerHormone-disrupting chemicals linked to cancer, infertility and a slew of other health problems have been found in water samples collected at and near hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," sites in Colorado, according to a new study published in the journal Endocrinology this week.

Researchers say they found elevated levels of these chemicals -- known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) -- in surface water and groundwater samples collected in the state's Garfield County, a fracking hotspot with more than 10,000 natural gas wells.

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States spend 2% of tobacco settlement money on cessation

tobacco settlementFifteen years after the $246 billion tobacco legal settlements were reached most states are not spending much on tobacco cessation, U.S. researchers say.

Tobacco use is the top cause of preventable U.S. death, killing more than 400,000 Americans and costing the nation $96 billion in healthcare bills each year and most states involved in the settlements promised a significant portion of the money would be spent on programs to prevent children and teens from smoking and help smokers quit.

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Michigan women will now have to purchase ‘rape insurance’ to get an abortion

rape insuranceThe Republican-dominated Michigan state legislature pushed through a bill on Wednesday requiring women to purchase separate insurance policies if they want to have an abortion, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“I don’t think elective abortion should be a part of insurance,” state Rep. Nancy Jenkins (R) told the Free Press. “This doesn’t affect access to abortion. It will still be legal when this law takes effect. Who should be required to pay? Not Michigan taxpayers.”

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Report: Louisiana policies help fuel HIV epidemic

Louisiana policies help fuel HIVTela Love, a 36-year-old transgender woman who used to work the streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter as a prostitute, has been HIV-positive for nearly 10 years. When she started exchanging sex for food and drugs, she said, local police arrested her after finding condoms in her bag. She was subsequently incarcerated at Orleans Parish Prison, where another inmate forced her to have unprotected sex with him. She later heard he was HIV-positive, she told Al Jazeera.

Love’s experiences with police harassment and sexual violence in prison partly explain why Louisiana’s death rate from AIDS is nearly double the national average and the New Orleans metropolitan area has the second-highest rate of new HIV infections in the United States, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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