Health Highlights: Nov. 11, 2014

By on November 11, 2014

Health Highlights: Nov. 11, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Numerous Problems at Clinic Where Joan Rivers Suffered Brain Damage: Report

An investigation cites numerous problems at the clinic where Joan Rivers suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen while undergoing a procedure to treat chronic reflux disease.

Staff at Yorkville Endoscopy in Manhattan “failed to identify deteriorating vital signs and provide timely intervention,” for the 81-year-old comedian, according to the New York Department of Health and Human Services, NBC News reported.

Rivers suffered hypoxic arrest (lack of oxygen to the brain) while undergoing a laryngoscopy and an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy on Aug. 28. She was rushed to hospital, where she died Sept. 4.

Yorkville Endoscopy failed “to ensure that patient care services are provided in a manner that protects the health and safety of all patients,” according to the health department.

It’s investigation also found that the clinic also did not have rules to ensure that only authorized personnel were permitted in the procedure room, that only credentialed physicians performed procedures, and that patient consent was obtained for all procedures to be preformed, NBC News reported.

The health department found that an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist “who was not a member of the medical staff and was not privileged at the facility” performed two nasolaryngoscopies on Rivers. This procedure examines the nasal passageways and the area between the cavity of the mouth and the throat.

The investigation also found discrepancies about the amount of an anesthetic called propofol that Rivers received for the procedures, NBC News reported.

In a statement, the medical examiner’s office said Rivers’ manner of death was “therapeutic complication,” and that the death resulted from a “predictable complication of medical therapy.”

Yorkville Endoscopy remains open and is still fully accredited, the clinic said in a statement released Monday, NBC News reported.

Last month, Joan Rivers’ daughter Melissa hired the personal injury law firm of Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz to investigate the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death.

In a statement issued Monday on Melissa’s behalf, her lawyers said:

“Our client, Melissa Rivers, is terribly disappointed to learn of the multiple failings on the part of medical personnel and the clinic as evidenced by the CMS report. As any of us would be, Ms. Rivers is outraged by the misconduct and mismanagement now shown to have occurred before, during and after the procedure. Moving forward, Ms. Rivers will direct her efforts towards ensuring that what happened to her mother will not occur again with any other patient.”


VA Department Head Announces Major Changes

Allowing veterans to receive care outside of Veterans Affairs facilities is one of the most important parts of what VA Secretary Robert McDonald called the “largest restructuring in the department’s history.”

The newly-created Choice Act provides $5 billion for additional doctors and nurses at VA facilities, and another $10 billion to give veterans easy access to health care either at VA or non-VA facilities, NBC News reported.

Legislation authorizing the VA to make the changes was approved by Congress in August. The VA provides services for nearly 5.5 million people.

In his announcement Monday, McDonald also noted that reforms at the VA led to one million more completed patient appointments between June and September than during the same time last year, NBC News reported.


Mali May be Ebola-Free

Quick action may have prevented an Ebola outbreak in the West African nation of Mali.

Health officials mounted a rapid response after a 2-year-old girl died of Ebola in Mali after her grandmother brought her from Guinea, the cradle of the Ebola epidemic, The New York Times reported.

The Malian Health Ministry, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization tracked and quarantined 108 people in two cities and a few roadside towns in Mali who may have had contact with the girl.

The 21-day quarantine period since the girl’s death on Oct. 24 is nearly over and none of the 108 people have symptoms of Ebola. Forty-one are to be released from quarantine Tuesday and the remainder by Friday, The Times reported.

If no Ebola cases occur, Mali will join Senegal and Nigeria in showing that rapid responses can stop Ebola.

“I’m actually feeling very good right now,” Dr. Rana Hajjeh, who led the CDC advisory team in Mali, told The Times. “We feel reassured that most of the danger is over.”

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