Health Highlights: Dec. 6, 2011

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

Former NFL Players Sue League Over Use of Pain Drug

A dozen former professional football players have launched a lawsuit accusing the NFL and its teams of repeatedly giving them the painkiller Toradol before and during games, making it more difficult for the players to recognize when they'd suffered a concussion.

The 12 retired players played in the late 1990s and early 2000s and say they now experience short-term memory loss, anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, severe headaches, and dizziness, The New York Times reported.

"The plaintiffs have described the situation as one of being in a pregame locker room with players lining up to receive injections of Toradol in a 'cattle call' with no warnings of any sort being given, no distinguishing between different medical conditions of the players, and regardless of whether the player had an injury of any kind," according to the lawsuit filed in United States District Court in New Jersey.

The NFL challenged the suits' claims.

"The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement, The Times reported. "Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league's actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."

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Stronger Graduated License Laws Could Save Lives: Report

More than 2,000 road deaths could be prevented each year in the United States if every state established comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws for teens, a new report says.

All states have some form of GDL but only two states, New York and Delaware, have programs that contain all seven components that make the programs most effective, according to John Ulczycki of the National Safety Council, USA Today reported.

The NSC researched the issue for the Allstate Foundation.

Congress is currently preparing to consider a multiyear highway and transit spending bill and proponents of GDL laws are lobbying lawmakers to include about $25 million a year in incentives for states to strengthen GDL programs, USA Today reported.

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Consumers Groups, Others Gain Access to Medicare Claims Database

Medicare will allow the use of its claims database to create ratings of hospitals, doctors and other health care service providers, officials said Monday.

The ratings, which would have to adhere to valid statistical methods, could be produced by consumer groups, employers and others. Medical providers would have 60 days to privately challenge a rating before it is made public, the Associated Press reported.

This is a "giant step forward" in helping patients make decisions about their medical care while holding providers accountable for quality, Medicare acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner said.

Consumer groups, which have long lobbied for the release of the data, are still analyzing the fine print, the AP reported.

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TV Hostess Rancic to Have Double Mastectomy

E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic, 37, said Monday that next week she will have a double mastectomy (removal of both breasts) followed by reconstructive surgery.

She made the announcement on "The Today Show" and also revealed that she underwent a double lumpectomy in October after being diagnosed with breast cancer. A follow-up medical visit showed that cancer was still present in one breast, ABC News reported.

"With the double mastectomy, I have less than a 1 percent chance of getting it back. With another lumpectomy, radiation and medication, I could have seen 20 to 30 to 40 percent chance in my lifetime and for me it just wasn't worth it," she said in explaining her decision.

Rancic added that she wants to deliver a positive message to other women that a mastectomy is a life-saving operation and nothing to be ashamed of, ABC News reported.

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Posted: December 2011


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