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News Archives, October 2005
Saturday, 29 October 2005 09:30
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
LAD HAD DEADLY CLOT ON BRAIN
James Fletcher, aged 6, nearly died when his parents took him to York Hospital after he had banged his head.

The staff at the hospital had diagnosed a fractured skull and blood clot as a stomach bug.

James was admitted for observation but not given an X-ray or a CT scan because of "strict guidelines".

He was then sent home but later rushed to Leeds for surgery to remove the clot and is now recovering at home. Stephen Fletch, James dad has made an official complaint to the hospital after what he called "three days of hell." An inquiry has been launched.

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Saturday, 29 October 2005 09:07
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Cancer victim revealed yesterday that she is pregnant
Ex-model Joanne Sprawson Britain’s youngest-ever breast cancer victim has amazed doctors by falling pregnant.

She was told that she would not be able to conceive naturally after her illness was diagnosed at 17.

Doctors believed the intensive chemotherapy she needed to fight the terrible disease would probably leave her infertile - but Joanne, now 23, has proved them all wrong.

She said: "I'm very excited - and nervous. I've kept checking myself for lumps and found nothing. My pregnancy is going very smoothly.

"I've been spending hours in the evenings just watching my bump move. It's fantastic”.

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Friday, 28 October 2005 12:44
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Scientists make appetite discovery
Scientists believe they are a step closer to understanding how to control appetite after two studies in Science magazine looked at brain signals that appear to suppress hunger.

Tests on mice have shown that killing off particular neurons and boosting particular proteins makes mice eat less and the research teams from Boston and Seattle believe humans share similar appetite pathways.

The first study looked at the ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) compound that has been shown to cause weight loss in humans and mice by blocking signals that stimulate appetite.

Dr Maia Kokoeva and colleagues at Harvard Medical School looked what happened when they gave CNTF to mice.

CNTF prompted a growth of new neurons in the area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls appetite and energy. The CNTF is believed to activate a pathway that makes the brain more responsive to the hormone leptin, which tell sthe body how well fed it is.

The second study, by University of Washington researchers, looked at the POMC and NPY/AgRP neurons that are involved in appetite. POMC neurons tell the brain to reduce appetite. Mice with defects in the POMC neurons quickly become obese.

Mice who had their NPY/AgRP neurons eliminated in adulthood ate less and less, but when the neurons were eliminated in baby mice, they continued to eat normally, suggesting that if the NPY/AgRP neurons are eliminated before they are fully functional, the body somehow compensates.

Lead researcher Dr Richard Palmiter said: "Everybody in the field believes that NPY/AgRP neurons and POMC neurons are undoubtedly doing the same in humans as they do in rodents. So I would predict that if you could do the experiment in humans, the results would be the same."

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Friday, 28 October 2005 12:08
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Questions over abortion link to depression
A study in the British Medical Journal has dismissed suggestions that who choose to abort an unwanted first pregnancy run a higher risk of depression.

Previous research carried out in the US claimed to have found that abortion significantly increased a woman’s chance of suffering depression.

The BMJ study looked at 1,247 women who aborted or delivered an unwanted pregnancy and found that women who chose to terminate reported less depression than those who went ahead with the birth.

However, the researchers believe that this may be down to socio-economic factors, as those choosing to abort tended to be more affluent than those who did not.

"This suggests that if the goal is to reduce women's risk of depression, research should focus on how to prevent and ameliorate the effect of unwanted childbearing, particularly for younger women," said the researchers.

Professor Nancy Russo, from Arizona State University, who led the study, said the differences in results between the two studies may be down to the different methods used.

The initial research looked at women carrying pregnancies that had not been intended, which could include some that were wanted but unplanned. The recent study considered only women who said the pregnancy was unwanted.

A spokesman from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, questioned the latest studies findings.

"Our counselling service deals with many women who have had abortions, and their feelings of remorse and sorrow are 100% genuine and deeply painful," he said.

"Even if abortion did no emotional or physical harm to women, it would still be wrong because it always takes an innocent, defenceless human life.

"We hope society will one day see abortion as the grave denial of a basic human right that it undoubtedly is."

Sophie Corlett, of the mental health charity Mind, said: "While any distressing life event has the potential to affect an individual person's mental health, this study supports earlier research that abortion, as opposed to bringing to term an unwanted pregnancy, does not increase the risk of later depression.

"Mind would welcome attention to the support needs and work/education opportunities for all women who experience unwanted pregnancies, whatever the outcome might be."

A spokeswoman from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which provides abortions to women in Britain, said: "From our experience, abortion does not cause depression, as long as a woman has discussed all her options and made a fully informed decision.

"Very few women return for post-abortion counselling and this is because they made the best decision for them at the time and see no need to talk to a counsellor."
Julia Millington of the ProLife Alliance said:

"The problems that lead women to opt for abortion - financial hardship, abusive men, social stigma - are still not being properly addressed. Real choice would give women the freedom and support to feel that abortion is neither the only nor good solution that the pro-abortion lobby suggests."

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Friday, 28 October 2005 11:44
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Superbug league tables “meaningless”
An expert from the Medical Research Council has labelled MRSA hospital league tables “meaningless” because of the superbug’s volatile nature.

David Spiegelhalter said that infection clusters distorted the true picture meaning that even if hospitals eliminated the underlying risk it would not necessarily be reflected in the published infection rates.

The government introduced the mandatory surveillance programme in 2002 and set at target of reducing rates by 50 per cent by 2008.

Dr Spielgelhalter said: "The basic problem is that it is unclear whether the targets refer to an observed rate reduction or a true reduction in underlying risk.

"This ambiguity is unimportant at the national level but, for individual hospitals, chance variation can make the observed rates extremely volatile and make simplistic notions of hitting targets unreliable."

The British Medical Journal study highlighted the case of Aintree Hospitals NHS Trust which had 34 cases in 2001-2, 66 in 2002-3 and 48 the following year.

Dr Spielgelhalter said that even if a hospital reduced the real risk of MRSA infection by 20 per cent, this might not be reflected in published statistics.

Georgia Duckworth, of the Health Protection Agency, accepted there were limitations to the figures, but added: "Mandatory surveillance of MRSA infection rates has raised the profile of infection control."

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Friday, 28 October 2005 11:18
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Eating Veg can prevent lung cancer
Scientists have found that people with one or both of two specific genes, and who eat a diet rich in vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, can reduce their risk of lung cancer by a third.

About half the population have inactive versions of the genes and can reduce their lung cancer risk by eating cabbage or other cruciferous vegetables at least once a week.

However, the diet is only effective among smokers. For non-smokers – among whom lung cancer is rare – there was no difference between those who ate the vegetables and those who did not.

Cruciferous vegetables contain high levels of isothiocyanates and can prevent lung cancer by increasing the body’s production of tobacco-derived toxins. The body’s isothiocyanate levels are controlled by the genes GSTM1 and GSTT1. People with inactive versions of the genes have higher levels of isothiocyanates

The study of lung cancer patients by researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyons, France, found that those with the inactive form of GSTM1 had a 33 per cent reduced risk of lung cancer.

Among those with the inactive form of GSTT1, the effect was greater, with a 37 per cent reduced risk. In those with both genes, the risk was cut by 72 per cent. People with the active form of the genes had no protection.

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Friday, 28 October 2005 11:06
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
11 million Britons have taken illegal drugs
Researchers have revealed that nearly 11 million Britons have taken illegal drugs, including four million who have used class A substances such as heroin and cocaine.

The study found that levels of drug taking appear to be levelling or falling off but remain higher than seven years ago when the Labour government was elected and launched its drive to cut drug addiction.

Since then, the numbers taking illegal drugs increased sharply, especially in the 16 to 59 age group, and mainly due to the large rise in cocaine use between 1998 and 2000.

The British Crime Survey, which interviewed nearly 50,000 people, showed that cannabis was still the most popular drug, used by 9.7 per cent of the population in the last year. That is a drop from 10.8 per cent in 2003-4, when the drug was reclassified from class B to class C.

The next most commonly used drug was cocaine (2 per cent), followed by ecstasy (1.8 per cent), amphetamines (1.4 per cent) and amyl nitrite or poppers (1.2 per cent). Only 0.1 per cent admitted to taking heroin in the last year.

The proportion of under-25-year-olds using cannabis fell to 23.5 per cent from 24.8 per cent in 2003-4 and the proportion using any kind of drug fell to 26.3 per cent from 27.8 per cent.

A Tory spokesman said: "The surge in the number of people taking class A drugs happened in 1998 - at the same time as Labour launched their clampdown. This survery further backs up the case against Labour that, despite their rhetoric of being 'tough on the causes of crime', their drugs policies have had quite the reverse effect."

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Friday, 28 October 2005 10:49
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Private nurses saved my life, says businesswoman
Martha Lane Fox, the leading British business woman who founded the travel website lastminute.com, has claimed that she may have died following a serious car accident last year had she not used her own money to supplement NHS care with private treatment, The Independent has reported.

Ms Fox criticised the "huge layer of unnecessary bureaucracy" in the NHS and said she hired her own nurses because the staff in the intensive are unit were so under-resourced.

She had suffered serious injuries in a car accident in Monaco last May and only left Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital in April this year. She needs constant physiotherapy and has just stopped using her wheelchair.

In an interview with The Independent, she said: "I'm lucky ... I had my own private nurses in addition to the NHS nurses. I had to have carers looking after me all the time because there was a stage when I couldn't lift any limbs and had to ring a bell to have a sip of water and they were just far too stretched."

She added: "But even then there seemed to be two managers to every nurse. There seems to have been added a huge layer of unnecessary bureaucracy ... I voted Labour but it seems something's got lost along the way.

"I constantly think that if I had no money I would have been in hospital six months longer because I have had private care at home for a long time. I would have physio once or twice a week which I would have had to get to and from myself. I think my progress of recovery if I'm lucky will be a couple of years. If I hadn't had cash to help me I think it could have been anything between two and five years, if I had made it. If I made it, and I mean that with all seriousness."

She acknowledged that "getting me from the accident was absolutely critical". But she added: "I needed round-the-clock care that I provided of my own in addition to the job the nurses were doing and that was through no fault of the nurses.

"Many of them were fantastic and I owe them an enormous debt but I was just so ill and so infected very often and so unable to do a single thing for myself."

She said it is only since she has been able to collect her thoughts that she came to the conclusion. "I'm constantly staggered by the dedication of the frontline of the NHS. I was in an NHS hospital initially, my life was saved by an A&E trauma unit in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

"And the team there were fantastic ... but the lack of resources they had and the lack of, what seemed to me, power to nurses who are dealing with stuff every day, something's gone screwy. They are pumping all this money into the NHS and yet it doesn't seem to be getting to the people that need it.

"There's a whole big chunk in the middle of the NHS that needs to be re-evaluated."

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Friday, 28 October 2005 10:31
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Daughter trusted GP over morphine injections
A GP accused of killing a patient with an overdose of morphine was not questioned by the patient’s daughter because she trusted that “doctor knows best”, a court heard yesterday.

Alison Moss said her faith in the superior knowledge of GP Howard Martin – accused of killing 59-year-old Frank Moss and two other patients in Co Durham – stopped her from doubting the quality of treatment he administered.

Ms Moss told Teeside crown court that she had been surprised at the repeated doses of morphine given to her father, which were later discovered to have been around six times the recommended sedative level.

She recalled that following one injection given to her father – who suffered from lung cancer that had spread to his brain – the doctor unexpectedly retuned the same evening to administer more.

"He said he was going to give a top-up injection, which I thought was quite strange because my father had not woken up since the first one," she said. "But I thought with him being a doctor he knew best so I didn't ask any questions."

On the day before her father died, Ms Moss said she visited him at his home in Eldon, near Newton Aycliffe, and found him fitting a socket in preparation for receiving delivery of a mechanical bed the next day.

Martin later arrived and injected Mr Moss with morphine because "he was having trouble with his breathing".

"I found it very hard to believe because I had just been inside with him. He was not having trouble breathing. He was just my normal dad."

She still did not question the morphine doses but said Martin had made her uncomfortable during his evening visit by discussing funeral arrangements and rigour mortis.

She told the court: "I was upset because he had just told me that my father was dying and then he started babbling on about rigor mortis. Who would want to know about rigor mortis when they have just been told that their father's dying?"

Ms Moss went to the police with her misgivings after hearing publicity surrounding the death of another of Martin’s alleged victims, Harry Gittins, 74, in January 2004. The bodies of Mr Moss, Mr Gittins and a third man, Mr Stanely Weldon, were exhumed.

Martin denies murdering the three men. The trial continues.

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Friday, 28 October 2005 09:08
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Perfume to improve your mood
A new medical perfume that was unveiled yesterday can improve people’s moods by smelling it.

The new sandalwood perfume that is impregnated on a patch contains chemicals which hit the base of the brain via the nose. They then regulate dopamine levels which can affect depression and anxiety.

Inventor Dr George Dodd said the perfume could be more effective than prescription drugs.

He said: “One or two sniffs will be enough. We’ve done trials with hundreds of people”.

It is hoped that the perfume could be on sale in 18 months.

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