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Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Flu reaches epidemic level in U.S., says CDC
2013-01-11T225757Z_17_BRE9080WE_RTROPTC_0_US-USA-FLU.XML () -
Supreme Court to review free speech of HIV/AIDS groups 2013-01-11T222026Z_6_BRE90A12Y_RTROPTC_0_US-USA-COURT-AIDS-FREE SPEECH.XML () -
Patients rarely told about medication errors
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patients and their families are rarely told when hospitals make mistakes with their medicines, according to a new study. Most medication mistakes did not harm patients, the researchers found, but those that did were more likely to happen in intensive care units (ICUs). And ICU patients and families were less likely to be told about errors than patients in other hospital units.
Judge keeps Planned Parenthood out of Texas program
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas judge on Friday denied a Planned Parenthood request to be allowed to offer health services to low-income women through a state program. Texas now excludes abortion providers and affiliates from the program and Planned Parenthood has been fighting to become a provider again.
Merck begins overseas recall of HDL cholesterol drug 2013-01-11T174242Z_4_BRE90A0MC_RTROPTC_0_US-MERCK-CHOLESTEROLDR UG-WITHDRAWAL.XML () -
EMS strategy change gets heart patients faster care
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with a certain type of heart attack get better care when paramedics take them directly to a medical center that can perform stent procedures - even if it's not the closest hospital, according to new research from North Carolina. In a so-called ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, blood is blocked for an extended period of time and a patient needs artery-opening surgery as quickly as possible - ideally within two hours or less.
Massachusetts governor seeks to revamp retiree health care 2013-01-11T213042Z_2_BRE90A14P_RTROPTC_0_US-USA-MASSACHUSETTS-R ETIREES.XML () -
Almost one in six couples face infertility: study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Close to one in six U.S. couples don't get pregnant despite a year of trying - after which doctors typically recommend evaluation for infertility, according to a new study. Those data are based on a nationally-representative survey of more than 7,600 women - including 288 who were trying to become pregnant - but don't provide an explanation for what may be causing the couples' infertility.
France will ask EU to curb use of newer birth control pills
PARIS (Reuters) - French health authorities will ask the European Union to restrict the use of newer types of contraceptive pills over concerns they might carry health risks. France's health minister Marisol Touraine said on Friday the newer pills, which have caught on because they reduce side effects from earlier versions such as weight gain and acne, should only be prescribed by specialist doctors to women who cannot use other types of contraception.
Simple awareness reduces college food waste
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - College students threw out 15 percent less food after researchers peppered dining halls with short anti-waste slogans, according to new study. "If you can get it into people's minds to talk about food waste, that's when little changes take effect," said lead author Kelly Whitehair, an instructor of hospitality management and dietetics at Kansas State University. "Change doesn't have to involve a huge elaborate campaign," she told Reuters Health.