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News Archives, December 2005
Saturday, 31 December 2005 14:13
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
HIV boy loses China hospital case
A court in China has dismissed a nine-year-old boy’s lawsuit against a Beijing hospital and Red Cross blood centre alleged to have infected him with the HIV virus.

His parents, neither of whom has the virus, say he contracted it from a blood transfusion during surgery but the court turned down the claim for compensation because there was no solid proof the hospital and blood centre were to blame.

The child lost an earlier lawsuit because the blood centre refused to submit the blood donor’s personal profile in order to protect the person’s privacy, state news agency Zinhua says.

The boy tested positive for HIV in 2003 after suffering a serious case of pneumonia. His parents tested negative and therefore concluded that a blood transfusion during an operation to repair their son’s cleft palate in 2002 was the only possible source of the infection.

The hospital’s director of medical affairs denied that the case was connected to the hospital.

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Saturday, 31 December 2005 13:59
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
High protein diet attacked
The benefits of high-protein diets have again been questioned, with an editorial in the magazine Nature claiming diets such as the Total Wellbeing Diet, which is similar to the Atkins diet, only help a small number of people.

The Total Wellbeing Diet, which recommends that 30 to 35 per cent of a person’s daily energy intake should come from protein, compared to 15 per cent in a typical Western diet, has sold half a million copies in Australia since May and has been on sale in the UK since September.

The plan recommends that people eat more fish and meat at lunch and dinner. It differs from the similar Atkins diet in that it allows dieters to eat small amounts of carbohydrates and encourages them to eat lots of fruit and vegetables.

In a study of 100 overweight women carried out by the authors, half the women were put onto the high-protein diet while the rest had a high-carbohydrate eating plan.

Both diets contained the same amount of calories, and women in both groups lost the same amount of weight.

But the researchers said women with high triglyceride levels - a marker of insulin resistance - shed far more weight on the high-protein diet.

Insulin resistance happens when the body cannot respond properly to the insulin being produced, leading to difficulty in regulating blood glucose levels.

The Nature editorial said: "The diet is being promoted as beneficial for everyone, whereas the published research indicates that it is superior to a high-carbohydrate diet only for a sub-population of overweight women with symptoms of metabolic disorder."

Patrick Holford, of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London, said: "The main trial showed no difference in weight loss compared with a conventional diet."

But a spokeswoman for the CSIRO said it had always published books on its scientific work and put its name to publications, and this was "no exception".

"The decision to publish was in response to many consumers asking for further details of the diet."

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Saturday, 31 December 2005 13:44
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Walking aid for stroke victims
A new walking frame, which could make it easier for people to learn to walk again following a stroke, is being designed by UK researchers.

Many stroke patients cannot use the existing frames which require the patient to hold them and lift them as they move.

The new frame supports people from behind and is “hands free”, making it much easier to use for people who have lost the full use of their arms.

The frame was initially developed by Professor John Patrick’s team at the Orthotic Research and Locomotor Assessment Unit, at Oswestry Hospital, for patients with cerebral palsy.

It has a harness to support the patient’s torso and wheels at its rear.

The frame was adapted for stroke victims by Dr Gillian Pearce, whose family experience of stroke prompted her to try to improve the walking aids available.

Dr Pearce, who is also a senior lecturer in clinical physiology and anatomy at Wolverhampton University, said: "This is a really important project that will help many victims of debilitating illnesses to regain their independence and improve their quality of life.

"So far, it has been confined to use in the hospital because it is quite large and bulky."

But she added: "We believe the frame could be used in the home, and could be something people could take with them in the care, if we can make it easier to assemble and take apart."

Andrea Lane, a spokeswoman for the Stroke Association, said: "Regaining independence is a very important step in the recovery of stroke and a number of stroke survivors will benefit from this equipment.

"However, disability as a result of a stroke manifests itself in many ways and we need more initiatives like this to help all stroke survivors make a good recovery."

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Saturday, 31 December 2005 13:33
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Medical experts honoured
A number of health experts have been recognised in the New Years honours.

Suzi Leather, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority since 2002, said she was “delighted” after being made a Dame, while two senior doctors have been knighted. Stephen Moss, ex-nursing chief at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre also received a knighthood.

Deam Suzi has guided the HFEA at a time when technological advances have sparked controversy over fertility treatment and embryo research.

She has spent her career working in a number of health-related fields, including the Food Standards Agency and an NHS trust.

In the summer, she was appointed chair of the School Meals Review Panel tasked with improving meal standards following a television campaign by chef Jamie Oliver.

She said: "Personally I am delighted and touched to receive this honour.

"It is recognition of the importance of the work that I have been involved in."

Professor Graham Teasdale, an experienced neurosurgeon and president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and Professor Nicholas Wright, head of the Queen Mary School of Medicine in London, were both knighted.

Professor Wright, who is a cancer specialist and was director of clinical research at what is now Cancer Research UK for seven years during the 1990s, said: "It has really come out of the blue.

"I guess it is a reward for years of effort and hard work in medicine."

There were CBEs for Mary Naughton, chief nurse at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal College of Nursing president Sylvia Denton, Age Concern director general Gordon Lishman and Mental Health tzar Louis Appleby.

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Saturday, 31 December 2005 13:09
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
NHS closer to waiting figures target
The health minister Lord Warner yesterday claimed the government was on course to meet its target of no patient in England waiting over six months for hospital treatment, The Guardian has reported.

Figures showed that at the end of November there were 12,300 people waiting more than six months for treatment, a drop of 12,600 from the previous month and down by 49,800 on November last year.

The total waiting list for treatment now stands at 774,300. Yesterday's figures showed that at the end of November there were 22 patients waiting over nine months for treatment, with four waiting over a year.

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Friday, 30 December 2005 14:24
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Lids to prevent drink spiking
An Exeter woman has invented a plastic lid which she hopes to ease the problem of drink spiking and date rape by stopping drugs being easily poured into glasses.

Dawn Dines is marketing the plastic lids with the support of several police forces. They cost around 10p each and are being sold to pubs and clubs to give to customers.

National figures indicate that more than 60 per cent of spiking takes place in pubs and clubs, with women aged 18 to 30 most likely to be targeted.

Dawn Dines said of the invention: "I think for the community as a whole, it's going to make many people feel a lot safer.

"It's not a total prevention, but what it will do is make it a lot more difficult for someone to slip something into your drink."

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Friday, 30 December 2005 14:12
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Britons shun fad diets
A survey of 1,000 people by Marks and Spencer has suggested that Britons are shunning popular weight loss plans in favour of a more balanced diet.

The poll revealed that the number opting for more balanced meals instead of adhering to strict diets had risen by a fifth in five years.

One in five respondents said they had given up a diet after only a month and 9 per cent said they had managed only a week.

Half of those questioned said they would rather do a hobby to keep fit than visit the gym, with a third opting for cycling to work.

Respondents were also divided over their eating habits. Half said they tried to stick to healthy foods without dieting, while 38 per cent said they wanted to eat healthily but often fall off the wagon.

Ten per cent admitted to constantly eating bad food and just one per cent said they followed diet fads such as the Atkins diet.

M&S dietician Lyndel Costain said: "People are trying to eat healthily as they are much more aware of how important a balanced diet is for good health.

"There is a definite trend towards a more sustainable way of eating rather than fad diets. Deep down people realise there's no such thing as a quick fix."

Jackie Lowdon, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, said: "We welcome this research - for a long time we've been saying that instead of dieting the emphasis should be on healthy eating and lifestyle.

"Fad diets often fail but if you change your lifestyle so that you eat more healthily the weight stays off."

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Friday, 30 December 2005 13:53
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Tiny sensor to detect cancer
A tiny biosensor, created by scientists led by the University of Newcastle, will be able to detect cancer proteins and potentially the bug responsible for MRSA.

The technology will be incorporated into a hand-held device for quick analysis of tissue samples.

It is hoped the sensor will allow doctors to diagnose and monitor common types of cancer, and to work out the most appropriate therapy.

The vibrating disc is no bigger than a speck of dust and works by identifying cancer markers such as proteins or other molecules produced by cancer cells which vary according to the type of cancer and are distinct from proteins produced by healthy cells.

The disc is coated with special patterns of DNA which cause the cancer markers to bind to the surface. This binding makes the disc vibrate at a different frequency, which is then measured, allowing detection of the marker.

Lead researcher Professor Calum McNeil, said: "We are confident that this new technology has the potential to improve the prospects of successful treatment for these cancers.

"Early diagnosis and effective monitoring of cancers are known to be key factors influencing outcome.

"In addition, the technology could provide specialists with advice about the most appropriate therapy for a particular patient, since the devices could easily be connected to sources of information such as a hospital computer network, the internet or a mobile phone."

The device could also be developed to detect a range of other diseases and bacteria, opening up the possibility of screening patients for MRSA and other infections that can be carried into wards.

Dr Kat Arney, cancer information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "Thanks to research we know more and more about the molecules that are faulty in cancer cells.

"Once the gyroscope technology is fully developed, these miniature machines could prove useful for spotting cancers at an early stage.

"It's important to work on new ways to diagnose cancer, as early detection is more likely to lead to successful treatment."

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Friday, 30 December 2005 13:31
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Pupils to be weighed in battle against obesity
Schools could be set to reintroduce medicals in which pupils are weighed at the ages of four and ten as evidence suggests a generation of sedentary youngsters could face a lifetime of weight-related health problems.

Nurses hope to spot the early signs of obesity by weighing and measuring the children as they start primary school and again before they move on to secondary.

The Department of Health will issue guidelines to primary care trusts on how to perform the checks following the 2004 White Paper aimed at halting the year-on-year increase in obesity among under-11s.

Statistics show that 22 per cent of boys and 28 per cent of girls between the ages of two and 15 are overweight or obese. These children face an increased risk of health problems such as joint pains and Type-2 diabetes in middle age.

Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said: "This is such a massive problem something needs to be done.

"This is a good idea if more resources are put into school nurses alongside it."

But Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, warned: "This could be seen as more nannying by the Government and it exposes the past failures of policy and neglect of school sport. The obesity problem has been caused in large part by youngsters simply not getting enough exercise."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "This is not so much about measuring individual children but about motivating children, families and local populations to live healthy active lives."

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Friday, 30 December 2005 13:20
BNN: British Nursing News Online ·
Coaching by midwives could do more harm than good
US researchers have found that women who are “coached” through labour by a midwife may be doing themselves more harm than good - doing little to shorten the labour and increasing the risk of bladder problems after birth.

For generations, women have relied on the midwife to tell them when to start pushing, but the University of Texas scientists said that women should follow their own instincts and do what comes naturally.

During coaching, the midwife or the woman’s partner will judge when the last part of labour should begin and will tell the mother to push and hold her breath for a full 10 seconds through the contraction.

Researchers looked at 320 women with uncomplicated pregnancies who were about to give birth. Half were coached by a midwife to push for 10 seconds during a contraction, while the other half were told to do what came naturally.

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology study found that coached women did have a slightly shorter second-stage labour, but only from 59 to 46 minutes which was not deemed significant.

It also appeared that coached labour could increase the risk of bladder problems. Some 128 women returned three months after giving birth for a bladder control check up, with the coached women showing smaller bladder capacity.

The researchers concluded that "coached pushing could potentially increase the amount of pressure on the pelvic floor with subsequent deleterious effects", but said that more research was needed to establish whether the effects on the bladder are permanent.

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