The Internet

Unicode Consortium Looks At Symbols For Allergies 193

AmiMoJo writes: A proposal (PDF) submitted by a Google engineer to the Unicode Consortium asks that food allergies get their own emojis and be added to the standard. The proposal suggests the addition of peanuts, soybeans, buckwheat, sesame seeds, kiwi fruit, celery, lupin beans, mustard, tree nuts, eggs, milk products and gluten. According to TNW: "This proposal will take a little longer to become reality — it's still in very early stages and needs to be reviewed by the Unicode Consortium before it can move forward, but it'll be a great way for those with allergies to quickly express them."
Medicine

Non-Invasive Spinal Cord Stimulation Gets Paralyzed Legs Moving Again 24

schwit1 writes: A new technique called transcutaneous stimulation has allowed five men with complete motor paralysis regain the ability to move their legs voluntarily and produce step-like movements. The treatment requires no surgery and adds to prior work to help paralyzed people gain voluntary movement through electrical stimulation (one completed in 2011, the other in 2014). Gizmag reports: "The new treatment uses a technique called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, which involves strategically placing electrodes on the skin of the lower back. While receiving stimulation, the men's legs were supported by braces that hung from the ceiling. At first their legs only moved involuntarily, if at all. But they soon found they could voluntarily extend the distance their legs moved during stimulation. They doubled their range of voluntary motion after four treatment sessions."
United States

DoD Ditches Open Source Medical Records System In $4.3B Contract 185

dmr001 writes: The US Department of Defense opted not to use the Department of Veterans Affairs' open source VistA electronic health record system in its project to overhaul its legacy systems, instead opting for a consortium of Cerner, Leidos and Accenture. The initial $4.3 billion implementation is expected to be the first part of a $9 billion dollar project. The Under Secretary for Acquisition stated they wanted a system with minimum modifications and interoperability with private sector systems, though much of what passes for inter-vendor operability in the marketplace is more aspirational than operable. The DoD aims to start implementation at 8 sites in the Pacific Northwest by the end of 2016, noting that "legacy systems are eating us alive in terms of support and maintenance," consuming 95% of the Military Health Systems IT budget.
Medicine

Death Toll at 4 In NYC Legionnaire's Outbreak 13

Reuters reports that four people have died of Legionnaire's Disease in an outbreak in the Bronx, and 65 more have exhibited symptoms of the disease. The Bronx was also home to the most recent flare-up of the disease, in December of last year. Says the article, In response to the outbreak, the city's health department has inspected 22 buildings in the Bronx, 17 of which have cooling towers. Five buildings, including the historic Opera House Hotel, Lincoln Medical Center and the Concourse Plaza mall and movie complex, tested positive for Legionella. Disinfection efforts are ongoing or have already been completed at all five sites. ... The people who died from the disease were older adults with underlying medical problems, according to a city press release. The department said the city's drinking water supply, fountains and pools have not been affected.
Privacy

One In Four Indiana Residents' E-Record Data Exposed in Hack 60

Reader chicksdaddy reports that a data breach involving four million patients and more than 230 different data holders (from private practices to large hospitals) hit Indiana especially hard. It's the home state of Medical Informatics Engineering, maker of electronic records system NoMoreClipBoard. While data exposed in the breach affected 3.9 million people, 1.5 millon of them are in Indiana. According to the Security Ledger, though: [The] breach affects healthcare organizations from across the country, with healthcare providers ranging from prominent hospitals to individual physicians' offices and clinics are among 195 customers of the NoMoreClipboard product that had patient information exposed in the breach. And, more than a month after the breach was discovered, some healthcare organizations whose patients were affected are still waiting for data from EMI on how many and which patients had information exposed.

'We have received no information from MIE regarding that,' said a spokeswoman for Fort Wayne Radiology Association (http://www.fwradiology.com/), one of hundreds of healthcare organizations whose information was compromised in the attack on MIE..
Medicine

Ebola Vaccine 100% Successful In Guinea Trial 111

An anonymous reader writes: Doctors and researchers have been testing a vaccine to protect against Ebola in the west African nation of Guinea. Trials involving 4,000 people have now shown a 100% success rate in preventing infection. "When Ebola flared up in a village, researchers vaccinated all the contacts of the sick person who were willing — the family, friends and neighbors — and their immediate contacts. Children, adolescents and pregnant women were excluded because of an absence of safety data for them. In practice about 50% of people in these clusters were vaccinated. To test how well the vaccine protected people, the cluster outbreaks were randomly assigned either to receive the vaccine immediately or three weeks after Ebola was confirmed. Among the 2,014 people vaccinated immediately, there were no cases of Ebola from 10 days after vaccination — allowing time for immunity to develop — according to the results published online in the Lancet medical journal (PDF). In the clusters with delayed vaccination, there were 16 cases out of 2,380."
Medicine

NY Judge Rules Research Chimps Are Not 'Legal Persons' 172

sciencehabit writes: A state judge in New York has dealt the latest blow to an animal rights group's attempt to have chimpanzees declared 'legal persons.' In a decision handed down this morning, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe ruled that two research chimps at Stony Brook University are not covered by a writ of habeas corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The Nonhuman Rights Project, which brought the lawsuit in an attempt to free the primates, has vowed to appeal. We posted news last year about an earlier case (mentioned in the article) brought by the same group, which also ended in defeat.
Biotech

The Biohacking Movement and Open Source Insulin 66

szczys writes: Since early last century, insulin has been produced from the pancreas of animals. In the late 1970s we figured out how to synthesize insulin using bacteria or yeast. As the biohacking movement has grown, insulin production has been a common target, but for some reason we're not there yet. Dan Maloney looked into the backstory (including the amazing story of the Saxl family who produced life-saving insulin during WWII) and a new startup that is trying to get Biohackers working on the problem. Update: 07/30 21:56 GMT by T : That's WWII above, not WWI; mea culpa.
Medicine

James Jude, MD Co-inventor of CPR, Dies At 87 43

New submitter voxelman writes: Jim Jude, my uncle, was a kind and modest man. The impact of his insight into the significance of a change in blood pressure from the application of defibrillation paddles to a dog's chest has led to the saving of millions of lives through cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). His passing is a release from a debilitating illness that made a mockery of his contributions to medical science. He will be missed by all that knew him.
Medicine

8-Year-Old Makes History As First Pediatric Dual Hand Transplant Recipient 59

ErnieKey writes: While there have been several hand transplants that have successfully taken place over the past decade or so, a little boy in Maryland, named Zion Harvey has become the first successful pediatric dual hand transplant recipient. After losing both hands and feet due to infection when he was 2 years old, doctors were able to successfully transplant new hands onto the little boy, thanks in part to modern-day 3d printing technology. "The success of Penn's first bilateral hand transplant on an adult, performed in 2011, gave us a foundation to adapt the intricate techniques and coordinated plans required to perform this type of complex procedure on a child," Dr. L. Scott Levin, chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery at Penn Medicine and director of the hand transplantation program at Children's Hospital, said in a statement.
Medicine

Beyond Safety: Is Robotic Surgery Sustainable? 54

Hallie Siegel writes: The release last week of the study on adverse events in robotic surgery led to much discussion on the safety and effectiveness of robotic surgical procedures. MIT Sloane's Matt Beane argues that while the hope is that this dialogue will mean safer and more effective robotic procedures in the future, the intense focus on safety and effectiveness has compromised training opportunities for new robotic surgeons, who require many hours of 'live' surgical practice time to develop their skills. Beane says that robotic surgery will likely continue to expand in proportion to other methods, given that it allows fewer surgeons to perform surgery with less trauma to the patient, but no matter how safe we make robotic surgical procedures, they will become a luxury available to a very few if we fail to address the sustainability of the practice.
Biotech

Eye Drops Could Dissolve Cataracts 70

An anonymous reader writes: As Slashdot readers age, more and more will be facing surgery for cataracts. The lack of cataract surgery in much of the world is a major cause of blindness. Researchers at University of California San Diego have identified lanosterol as a key molecule in the prevention of cataract formation that points to a novel strategy for cataract prevention and non-surgical treatment. The abstract is freely available from Nature. If you have cataracts, you might want to purchase a full reprint while you can still read it.
Medicine

Giving Doctors Grades Has Backfired 245

HughPickens.com writes: Beginning in the early 1990s a quality-improvement program began in New York State and has since spread to many other states where report cards were issued to improve cardiac surgery by tracking surgical outcomes, sharing the results with hospitals and the public, and when necessary, placing surgeons or surgical programs on probation. But Sandeep Jauhar writes in the NYT that the report cards have backfired. "They often penalized surgeons, like the senior surgeon at my hospital, who were aggressive about treating very sick patients and thus incurred higher mortality rates," says Jauhar. "When the statistics were publicized, some talented surgeons with higher-than-expected mortality statistics lost their operating privileges, while others, whose risk aversion had earned them lower-than-predicted rates, used the report cards to promote their services in advertisements."

Surveys of cardiac surgeons in The New England Journal of Medicine have confirmed that reports like the Consumer Guide to Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery have limited credibility among cardiovascular specialists, little influence on referral recommendations and may introduce a barrier to care for severely ill patients. According to Jauhar, there is little evidence that the public — as opposed to state agencies and hospitals — pays much attention to surgical report cards anyway. A recent survey found that only 6 percent of patients used such information in making medical decisions. "Surgical report cards are a classic example of how a well-meaning program in medicine can have unintended consequences," concludes Jauhar. "It would appear that doctors, not patients, are the ones focused on doctors' grades — and their focus is distorted and blurry at best."
Medicine

Tallying the Mistakes and Malfunctions of Robot Surgeons 64

An anonymous reader writes: El Reg reports on a new study (PDF) that looked into malfunction and injury reports for medical procedures that used robot surgeons. From 2007 to 2013, 1.74 million such procedures were carried out, 86% of which were related to urology and gynecology. Of those, the study looked at reports of "adverse events," which were sent to the FDA. In that time period, there were 144 deaths, 1,391 patient injuries, and 8,061 device malfunctions. The malfunctions included "falling of burnt/broken pieces of instruments into the patient (14.7%), electrical arcing of instruments (10.5%), unintended operation of instruments (8.6%), system errors (5%), and video/imaging problems (2.6%)."

The more complicated surgeries involving vital organs were naturally the most dangerous. Head and neck surgeries accounted for 19.7% of all adverse results, and cardiothoracic procedures accounted for 6.4%. The much more common urology and gynecology procedures had adverse event rates of 1.4% and 1.9%. The researchers are quick to note that despite the high number of malfunctions, a vastly higher number of robotic procedures went off without a hitch. They say increased adoption of these techniques will go a long way toward resolving bugs and device failures.
Medicine

The Mystery of Acupuncture Partly Explained In Rat Study 159

hackingbear writes: A biological mechanism explaining part of the mystery of acupuncture has been pinpointed by scientists studying rats. The research showed that applying electroacupuncture to an especially powerful acupuncture point known as stomach meridian point 36 (St36) affected a complex interaction between hormones known as the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. In stressed rats exposed to unpleasant cold stimulation, HPA activity was reduced (abstract). The findings provide the strongest evidence yet that the ancient Chinese therapy has more than a placebo effect when used to treat chronic stress, it is claimed. "Some antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs exert their therapeutic effects on these same mechanisms," said lead investigator Dr Ladan Eshkevari, from Georgetown University medical center in Washington DC.
Government

Scientology Group Urged Veto of Mental Health Bill 265

An anonymous reader writes: According to records obtained by The Texas Tribune, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed a bill that would have given doctors more power to detain mentally ill and potentially dangerous patients, after a Church of Scientology-backed group helped organize a campaign against it. "Medical staff should work closely with law enforcement to help protect mentally ill patients and the public," he said. "But just as law enforcement should not be asked to practice medicine, medical staff should not be asked to engage in law enforcement, especially when that means depriving a person of the liberty protected by the Constitution." The bill would have allowed doctors to put mentally ill patients on a four-hour hold if they were suspected of being a danger to themselves or others. The bill had the support of two of the nation's largest medical associations.
China

Chinese Girl Receives Full Skull Reconstruction Via 3D Printing 99

ErnieKey writes: Doctors in China have just successfully performed a groundbreaking surgery on a 3-year-old little girl named Han Han. Han Han was suffering from congenital hydrocephalus which caused her head to grow to four times the normal size. If something wasn't done, she probably wouldn't have lived much longer. This is when surgeons at the Second People's Hospital of Hunan Province elected to remove a large portion of her skull and replace it with a 3d printed titanium mesh skull. The results were truly amazing, and Han Han is expected to make a full recovery.
Medicine

What Happens When Your Own Limb Is Almost Good Enough? 34

derekmead writes: While the media might focus on prosthetics, the technology and techniques involved in limb salvage have advanced tremendously, too, spurred in large part by America's recent military conflicts. Now, when a soldier or civilian faces a brutal limb injury, they have choices—save the limb, or amputate. Be a limb salvage patient, or an amputee. Reconstruct the limb you were born with, out of the pieces you have left over, or lose that limb altogether. And that choice is, increasingly, a really difficult one.
Medicine

The Cure Culture: Our Obsession With Cures That Are 'Just Around the Corner' 204

citadrianne writes: Cures for major disease always seem just a few short years away. We constantly read about promising new treatments for cancer, diabetes, HIV, ALS, and more. While the prognosis for these diseases has improved over the years — sometimes greatly — we still focus doggedly on the cure. "The idea of a cure is simpler, it's more appealing as a fantasy." This article takes a look at so-called "Cure Culture" — the focus on reaching for a cure when our scientific efforts may be better expended attacking a disease in other ways. It asks, "Why are we telling our children, our friends, and our family members that we are going to cure them? ... What does it mean to be cured of a disease that is encoded within your DNA from the moment you become a zygote until the moment you are dead? ... And why are we eschewing or overlooking treatments—real, honest-to-god treatments—that can let patients lead longer, more normal lives?
Advertising

Twitter Yanks Ads UK Activists Say Could Trigger Seizures 63

After complaints from UK charity Epilepsy Action, Twitter pulled after less than a day two ads that the group said might cause epileptic seizures. The in-house ads, in the 6-second format of Twitter-owned Vine, consisted of flashing video which the Epilepsy Action said "was dangerous, as it could potentially produce seizures in people who have photo-sensitive epilepsy."