Reuters Health News Summary

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.

Drug overdoses top AIDS as main cause of homeless deaths

BOSTON (Reuters) - Overdoses of drugs, particularly prescription pain-killers and heroin, have overtaken AIDS to become the leading cause of death of homeless adults, according to a study of homeless residents of Boston released on Monday. The finding came from a five-year study of homeless adults who received treatment from the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. But its broad conclusions apply to homeless populations in many urban parts of the United States, the study's author and homeless advocates said.

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GSK files for U.S. approval of new diabetes drug

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L> said on Monday it had filed for U.S. approval of its new once-weekly diabetes drug albiglutide and would make a similar submission shortly in Europe as it vies for a share of a crowded market. Albiglutide belongs to the same class of injectable GLP-1 medicines as Victoza, from Novo Nordisk <NOVOb.CO>, and Byetta and Bydureon, from Bristol-Myers Squibb <BMY.N> and AstraZeneca's <AZN.L> Amylin unit.

Coughs take longer to clear up than people think

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The gap between how long people expect their cough to last and how long it actually does may drive some to the doctor for antibiotics that won't help, according to a new study. Researchers in Georgia found that survey respondents tended to expect their cough to be gone in about a week, but a review of cough studies shows the hacking takes about three weeks to clear up.

Coughs take longer to clear up than people think: study

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Patients rarely told about medication errors: study

(Reuters) - In what is likely to come as little surprise, a U.S. study has found that patients and their families are rarely told when hospitals make mistakes with their medicines. Most medication mistakes did not harm patients, the researchers said in a report published in Critical Care Medicine, but those that did were more likely to happen in intensive care units (ICUs) - with ICU patients and their families less likely to be told about errors.

Some docs screen for prostate cancer without asking

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - One in four family doctors doesn't ask male patients before screening them for prostate cancer, according to a new survey. So-called prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing has been controversial in recent years because of uncertainty about whether it actually saves lives and concern about side effects from potentially unnecessary and invasive follow-up tests and treatments.

Deaf Belgian twins, 45, helped to die after losing sight

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Identical Belgian twin brothers, born deaf, becoming blind and unable to bear not being able to see and hear each other, had their wish to die granted in a case testing the boundaries of legal euthanasia. Doctors gave the 45-year-old twins lethal injections after they had had a cup of coffee together and said goodbye to each other, a spokesman at the UZ Brussel hospital said on Monday.

Office reminders help limit unnecessary antibiotics

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Reminding doctors and patients that bronchitis is almost always caused by a virus and won't get better with antibiotics may help cut down on unneeded prescriptions, a new study suggests. That's important because overuse of antibiotics can lead to drug resistance - which makes future infections more dangerous and harder to treat when the drugs are actually needed.

Pedestrian safety program prevents student injuries

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Fewer kids were injured during early morning and after school hours once new traffic lights, pedestrian signals and speed bumps were put around New York City schools, according to a new study. Those fixtures were added through the Safe Routes to School program, which received over $600 million from the U.S. Congress in 2005 to improve kids' ability to walk and bike to schools across the country.