Health Highlights: Dec. 2, 2009

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

NFL Issues Tougher Rules on Handling of Head Injuries

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday sent a memo to the league's 32 professional football teams outlining the toughest rules yet for when players with head injuries can return to games or practices.

In the latest development in what has become a heated controversy, the new rules state that a player who gets a concussion should not return to action on the same day if he shows certain signs or symptoms. Those include an inability to remember assignments or plays, a gap in memory, persistent dizziness and persistent headaches, the Associated Press reported.

    • NFL Issues Tougher Rules on Handling of Head Injuries
    • Label to Warn of Heart Risks From Antidepressant: FDA
    • Costs of Many Hospital Procedures Rise Sharply: Report
    • Tyson Foods Warned About Seafood Storage
    • Patient Uses Mind to Control Robotic Hand
    • No New Tamiflu-Resistant H1N1 Cases at Duke

The previous rule, which was enacted two years ago, only stipulated that a player could not go back on the field if he lost consciousness.

The memo also stressed that players "are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion."

Nearly one-fifth of 160 NFL players surveyed by the AP in early November admitted that they have tried to downplay effects of a concussion. The league said on Wednesday that its concussion committee, team doctors, outside medical experts and the NFL Players Association developed the new standards.

This month, all NFL teams were told they must have an outside neurologist who can be consulted on concussions, and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday all of those independent doctors have been approved and are in place.

Since last month's congressional hearing on NFL head injuries, momentum has been building for changes in league policy.


Label to Warn of Heart Risks From Antidepressant: FDA

The antidepressant Norpramin should be used with "extreme caution" by patients with a history of certain heart problems, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

The agency said the label for Norpramin (desipramine hydrochloride) will now warn of potential risks to patients who have a family history of sudden death, cardiac dysrhythmias, and cardiac conduction disturbances; and that seizures precede cardiac dysrhythmias and death in some patients.

Norpramin is made by French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SA.


Costs of Many Hospital Procedures Rise Sharply: Report

Costs for 10 common hospital procedures increased rapidly between 2004 and 2007, says a U.S. government report released Wednesday.

Increases in the number of patients undergoing the procedures accounted for about 75 percent of the rise, while the remaining 25 percent was related to higher costs per patient, said the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The 10 procedures that showed the most rapid increases in hospital costs were:

  • Bone marrow transplants. Up 85 percent from $694 million to $1.3 billion.
  • Open surgery for non-cancerous enlarged prostate. Up 69 percent to $1 billion.
  • Aortic valve resection or replacement. Up 38.5 percent to $1.9 billion.
  • Cancer chemotherapy. Up 33 percent to $2.6 billion.
  • Spinal fusion. Up 29.5 percent to $8.9 billion.
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