Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Federal Court Throws Out Challenges to Health Law
Saying that the cases lacked legal standing, a federal appellate
court in Richmond, Va., dismissed two lawsuits on Thursday that
challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act,
enacted by the Obama administration in 2010.
Two of the three Democratic judges on the Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Court also said they would have upheld the law if they
could have ruled on the cases' substance,
The New York Times reported. But they threw out the lawsuits
on technicalities, saying that the plaintiffs in each case had no
legal right to sue.
One of the lower courts overturned the law's requirement that
most Americans must purchase health insurance by 2014, a key
provision of the law. The other lower court upheld the insurance
Other cases challenging the landmark health-care reform measure
have been heard in states from Georgia to Ohio, the
Times said. A final decision will likely rest with the U.S.
Water Contamination Threatens Flood-Ravaged Northeast
Many areas of the Northeast, ravaged by flooding from tropical
storms Irene and Lee, now have to wonder if their water is
"We face a public health emergency because sewage treatment plants are underwater and no longer working," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said after torrential rains from Lee saturated the central and eastern portions of the state, the Associated Press reported.
In Vermont, flooded by Irene nearly two weeks ago, 12 towns were
still on boil-water restrictions because sewage and other toxins
may have contaminated drinking water. Other states have similar
restrictions in place.
Besides the threat of sewage runoff, residents in flooded
regions have to fear a toxic cocktail of pesticides, paints and
other contaminants carried from basements, garages and driveways to
Vermont health officials were providing residents with private
water wells with free kits to test for bacteria. Additional tests
would be needed for any wells smelling of gasoline or oil, the
Patients' Private Data Posted Online for a Year
Information on 20,000 emergency room patients treated at
Stanford Hospital, in Palo Alto, Calif., was posted on a business
website for nearly a year before the breach of privacy was
discovered, according to news reports.
Patients' names and diagnosis codes but not their credit card or
Social Security numbers were included in the data that appeared on
a homework tutoring site Sept. 9, 2010, Gary Migdol, a hospital
The New York Times.
The hospital is investigating how the spreadsheet went from a
billing contractor hired by the hospital to the Student of Fortune
website and how the slip-up went undetected until reported by a
patient last month.
Providing outside contractors access to personal data makes
institutions vulnerable to lapses in privacy, security experts told
During the past two years, personal medical data for more than
11 million U.S. patients have been improperly revealed by
facilities around the country. The Stanford incident is noteworthy
because the privacy breach went unnoticed for so long, the
1,034 Outbreaks of Foodborne Illnesses in 2008: CDC
Contaminated poultry, beef and nuts contributed to 1,034
outbreaks of foodborne disease reported to the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in 2008, the latest year data is
available, according to a new report.
The outbreaks sickened thousands, caused 1,276 hospitalizations
and killed 22, according to figures published in the Sept. 9 issue
of the CDC's
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Among 479 cases attributed to a single bacteria or virus,
norovirus topped the list, causing 49 percent of the outbreaks and
46 percent of illnesses, the agency found. But
Salmonella, the second most common pathogen that year, was the most common cause of food-poisoning hospitalizations and was responsible for 13 of the deaths.
Through its Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System, the
CDC said it was able to identify the offending food source in 218
outbreaks. Poultry figured in 15 percent of those cases; beef and
fish, 14 percent each; fruits and nuts, 24 percent, and vine-stalk
vegetables, 23 percent.
Food poisoning sickens an estimated 48 million people in the
United States each year, the CDC said.