Do hand sanitizers make you sick? Can you safely eat raw cake batter … or consume your colleagues? Are doctors being pressured to prescribe painkillers for fear of getting bad reviews from patients? Read on to discover the answers to these questions – and more! – in this edition of the DentalPlans health news roundup.
Do Hand Sanitizers Work? Prove It!
The Food and Drug Administration wants makers of hand sanitizers to prove that the products they’re safe and effective.
This is the latest in the FDA’s continuing review of cleaning and hygiene products, which was spurred by pressure from Congress and a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The investigation is intended to see whether a few of the active ingredients used in sanitizers – ethanol or ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride – might be absorbed through the skin (and cause false positives in alcohol consumption tests). Of additional concern is that widespread use of sanitizers could create superbugs, resistant to antibacterial drugs.
The FDA says that the products may be just fine, and there is no reason as yet for consumers to stop using them. But the best way to clean hands is to wash them using soap and water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Patient Rankings Rankle Doctors
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked doctors to prescribe opioids only when truly needed, and in smaller doses to help reduce painkiller addiction.
But doctors say that patients demand the drugs, and when denied they are striking back by giving low ratings to healthcare professionals who refuse to prescribe opioids.
There is a federal policy that links hospital reimbursement payments to patient satisfaction surveys. Among the questions asked on the survey is whether the doctors did a good job in treating the patient’s pain. Some doctors believe that disgruntled prescription-seeking patients are driving down hospital ratings that determine government funding.
While there is much dispute over whether low scores in pain management affect ratings and reimbursements all that much, many doctors believe it does and feel pressured to prescribe the medication.
In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, about 2 million Americans abused prescription painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 14,000 died from overdosing on opioids.
No More Cookie Dough For You
Put down the spatula. Step away from the bowl. Eating uncooked dough or batter is unsafe, even if your recipe doesn’t use raw eggs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says in in a new consumer update that people shouldn’t to eat raw flour, period, because flour can harbor E. Coli.
“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” says Leslie Smoot, Ph.D., a senior advisor in FDA’s Office of Food Safety. So if an animal heeds the call of nature in the field, bacteria from the animal waste could contaminate the grain, which is then harvested and milled into flour.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an ongoing outbreak of illnesses related to a strain of E. coli bacteria found in some batches of flour has affected 38 people in 20 states over the past six months.
No Eating Brains Either
Medical News Today has published a report on “The Health Implications of Eating Colleagues.” Apparently, although it seems “wrong,” the good news is that as long as you cook your coworker before consuming him or her, “the health implications are similar to that of eating any large omnivore.
Just don’t eat their brains – that’s the only bit that can make you very sick. Bon Appétit!
What’s Most Likely To Kill You?
You’re less likely than ever to die from heart problems or cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there has been a significant increase in deaths from unintentional injuries.
The leading cause of injury-related deaths is unintentional poisoning. This broad category includes both someone who accidentally swallowed poison and someone who overdosed on drugs. Traffic accidents are second, and medical errors third.
Women still outlive men in the United States by about 4.8 years, but that gap has narrowed. In 1979, the difference was 7.8 years.