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Archive for August 5, 2013

Babies die; hospital halts heart surgeries


(CNN) — Tabitha and Lucas Rainey were beginning to get suspicious.

The staff at Kentucky Children’s Hospital kept telling them their infant son, Waylon, was recovering well from surgery. There had been a few bumps in the road, to be sure, but they said that was normal for a baby born with a severe heart defect.

Months passed. Waylon remained in the intensive care unit. More complications arose.

“Is everything OK?” the Raineys would ask.

Yes, the doctors and nurses assured them. Everything was fine.

Then one day, Tabitha Rainey says a cardiologist took her aside.

“She said, ‘If I were you, I would move him,’ ” Rainey remembers. “She told me we should take him somewhere else.'”

A few days later, the Raineys arranged to have Waylon sent by helicopter to the University of Michigan. By then their son, not quite 3 months old, was in heart failure.

Secret data

If Waylon Rainey had been born 30 years ago, he almost surely would have died a few days or weeks after birth. He has a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means the left side of his heart is so malformed it can’t pump blood.

Today, surgeons perform a series of three operations on babies like Waylon. They’re high-stakes surgeries — cutting into an organ the size of a newborn baby’s fist is tricky, to say the least. The blood vessels can be thinner than a piece of angel hair pasta, and one wrong move, one nick, one collapsed artery or vein can be deadly.

These children are medically very fragile, and even the best surgeons lose patients. Surgeons track their deaths and complications and take great pride in the number of babies they save. Some are so proud they publish their success rates right on their hospital websites.

Instead, Kentucky Children’s Hospital has gone to great lengths to keep their pediatric heart surgery mortality rates a secret, citing patient privacy. Reporters and the Kentucky attorney general have asked for the mortality data, and the hospital has declined to give it to them. In April, the hospital went to court to keep the mortality rate private.

Parents of babies treated at Kentucky Children’s say the hospital’s effort to keep the data a secret, coupled with troubling events over an eight-week period last year, makes them suspicious something at the hospital has gone terribly wrong.

Four innocent lives

On August 30, Connor Wilson died after having surgery at Kentucky Children’s Hospital for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He was 6 months old.

Three weeks later, Waylon Rainey had his surgery and later went into heart failure.

Eleven days after that, newborn Jaxon Russell had a “botched” heart surgery at Kentucky Children’s, according to his father.

Waylon and Jaxon both survived after undergoing additional surgeries elsewhere.

Less than three weeks later, on October 16, 6-month-old Rayshawn Lewis-Smith died after having heart surgeries at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

That same month, Dr. Mark Plunkett, the hospital’s chief heart surgeon — and the only surgeon performing open-heart surgeries at the hospital — went on paid leave, according to hospital spokesman Jay Blanton, and the hospital stopped doing heart surgeries.

The parents say they didn’t receive any explanation for why the surgeries stopped or why Plunkett left. A hospital spokeswoman said Plunkett was not available for comment.

CNN met with Connor, Waylon, and Jaxon’s parents in Lexington, Kentucky.

“I think they’re hiding something,” says Nikki Crew, Connor’s mother.

Shannon Russell, Jaxon’s father, said when his son had the second surgery at a different hospital it lasted four hours longer than expected because of infection and scar tissue left behind from the first surgery at Kentucky Children’s. He said the second surgeon also found a hole in Jaxon’s heart that the first surgeon missed, and corrected it.

“Our question is, how many other babies did this happen to?” said Russell, who, with his wife Miranda, started Lil’ Heart Sluggers to help other patients of children with congenital heart defects.

A child’s heart surgery amid Syria’s carnage

‘OK isn’t good enough for me’

Dr. Michael Karpf is the first to admit his hospital’s heart surgery program was not the best.

Karpf is executive vice president for health affairs at the University of Kentucky’s health care system, which includes Kentucky Children’s Hospital. He said he put the pediatric heart surgery program on hold because the mortality rates weren’t what he wanted them to be.

“They were OK, and OK isn’t good enough for me,” he said. “It’s got to be better. It’s got to be good.”

In December, a local reporter asked for more details. Brenna Angel, who worked for the university-owned radio station, asked the university for the mortality rate for all pediatric cardiothoracic surgeries performed over the past three years. She also asked for the number of surgeries performed by Plunkett, the date of his last surgery, and payments received for his surgeries.

The university answered some of her questions: Plunkett operated on 110 children in 2010, 81 children in 2011 and 62 in 2012, often performing multiple surgeries on one child. In 2010, UK HealthCare received $288,522 in payments for his surgeries; in 2011, it was $255,380.

But the university refused to release the date of Plunkett’s last surgery or the mortality rate, citing the federal patient privacy law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The university’s lawyer said even though Angel was only asking for numbers, those numbers could eventually be linked to patients’ names.

“Because Dr. Plunkett performs relatively few surgeries and because all of his surgeries are highly complex surgeries, it is relatively easy to deduce the identity of his patients,” wrote William Thro, the university’s general counsel.

Angel filed an appeal with Attorney General Jack Conway, citing the state’s Open Records Act, which requires that public agencies, such as public universities, open most of their records to the public.

The attorney general asked the university to let him look at the data privately. The university said no, again citing patient privacy laws. The attorney general disagreed with the university and found it in violation of the open records law.

In April, the university appealed the attorney general’s decision to state circuit court.

Hospital plans to do heart surgeries again

While the legal battle continues, the University of Kentucky has been doing its own internal review of the events last year.

Plunkett returned from his month’s leave of absence and then later resigned from the University of Kentucky to take a position with the University of Florida.

Dr. Timothy Flynn, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said he spoke to surgeons who worked with Plunkett in Kentucky.

“They thought Dr. Plunkett performed very, very well,” he said. “We did the due diligence on his skills, and we think he’ll do excellent in our environment.”

The Kentucky hospital plans on hiring a new surgeon and opening the program back up again at some point. Karpf, the UK HealthCare executive, said parents don’t need to worry — when it reopens, the program will be first class.

“I won’t be satisfied until our program is as good as anybody’s program,” he said.

But Connor, Jaxon, and Waylon’s parents aren’t so sure.

They say it’s troubling that doctors and nurses gave them vague answers when they asked specific questions. For example, their sons had very complex surgeries, and they wanted to know how many times Plunkett had done their specific procedures and what his success rate had been.

“I want to know statistics, I want to know hard facts,” said Lucas Rainey, Waylon’s father. “But they just said, ‘We see this all the time. It’ll be fine.’ ”

Karpf said he’s not sure parents would understand statistics and rates.

Karpf says he worries that most people would “have a hard time understanding data.”

“Data is a complex issue,” he said

Rainey said he and his wife understand data just fine — they analyzed other hospitals’ mortality rates when deciding where to send Waylon after the cardiologist suggested he be moved out of Kentucky Children’s.

Jaxon and Waylon are both at home now, and their parents are very pleased with the outpatient care from cardiologists at the University of Kentucky. But they said they’ll continue to fight to have all safety data released to the public.

“We’ve not lost our child, and I thank God for that, but I’m standing up for the ones that have lost their kids — the moms that I’ve had to stand in the hallway with and try to console because they’ve lost their children,” Tabitha Rainey said. “And they don’t know what’s happened and there are still no answers given to them.”

via Babies die; hospital halts heart surgeries –

Spiced Peppers and Eggplant



1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves

3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed

Pinch of saffron threads (optional)

4 sweet peppers, any color (about 1 pound), cut into 2-inch strips

2 baby eggplants (about 1/2 pound), quartered lengthwise, or 1/2 large eggplant, cut into 2×1-inch pieces

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 cup torn fresh basil leaves


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, coriander, cumin, and saffron, if using; cook, stirring often, until garlic is softened, about 4 minutes. Add sweet peppers and eggplants; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 15–20 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar. Just before serving, add basil and toss to combine.

DO AHEAD: Vegetables can be cooked 4 days ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before adding basil and serving.

via Spiced Peppers and Eggplant Recipe: Bon Appétit.



SpeakToSnooze Pro – Alarm clock with voice control commands to snooze and turn off your alarm! (4.5 stars with 51 User Ratings) 
iPhone App 
$2.99 → Free 


Speak to Snooze is exactly what it sounds like: an alarm app that allows you to speak to it in order to make it snooze. When your alarm is going off, all you need to do is tell the app to snooze, or even set it to a different time by saying what time you want the alarm to wake up. For those who snooze too much, you can set a time when the snooze function will no longer work. You can even get a read on what time it is by asking the app to read it back to you. The interface alone is worth checking this app out, but the functionality it affords the users is quite entertaining and useful.

via Best Free Apps of the Day on 8/4. Pan: The Fearless Beribolt, Speak to Snooze, MiniPics, & More! | App Chronicles.

M’sia, S’pore to meet again on high-speed rail link

A general view shows Malaysia’s landmark Petronas Twin Towers and commercial buildings in Kuala Lumpur. (AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

Malaysia has finalised its full report on the proposed high speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Malaysia has finalised its full report on the proposed high speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal, CEO of the Malaysia Land Public Transport Commission, said the two sides will meet after the Aidil Fitri celebrations at the end of the month.

He said: “The base line alignment and all that is done. But of course, minor changes can still happen. We are just starting the process of engagement and discussion with the Singapore side, with the joint ministerial committee meeting up after Hari Raya.”

Speaking exclusively to Channel NewsAsia, Mr Nur Ismal said details of the project, including the modality and funding, will be made public after discussions with Singapore officials.

Estimated to cost US$10 billion, the high-speed rail link is expected to be completed by 2020.

It is set to cut travel time between both cities to 90 minutes and has attracted keen interest from various international companies, including those from China, Japan, France and Spain.

Mr Nur Ismail said industries can expect competitive bidding once open tenders begin next year.

“There’s enough room for everyone. The key thing is that both countries will benefit, the conglomerates benefit, the key development along the alignment. We’re looking forward to the economic development side of it, the social aspect, the broader macroeconomic growth that will happen because of the link being there,” he added.

– CNA/ac

via M’sia, S’pore to meet again on high-speed rail link – Channel NewsAsia.

Cook healthy food for Raya

PETALING JAYA: It is easy to make Hari Raya feasting a healthier affair, celebrity chef Datuk Ismail Ahmad said.

The key is balance, which is already an essence of traditional Malay fare, he said.

“Traditional kampung meals are natural and balanced.

“Now, you can have Hari Raya dishes like rendang and lemang any time of the year, so why not for this Raya, you do the reverse?

“Go for simple, everyday food like ikan bakar (grilled fish), ulam (fresh traditional salad) or nasi kerabu (mixed salad rice),” he said.

Referring to the Health Ministry’s Eating Healthy campaign launched in conjunction with Hari Raya, he said that it was important for revellers to not only watch what they eat, but also what they cook.

“Traditional Raya fare is actually not unhealthy.

“For example, the real grandmothers’ rendang is not oily.

“The problem is that now, most people don’t know how to measure the correct portion of ingredients when they cook.

“Many tend to throw in as much of each ingredient as they can because they think it will make their dish tastier.”

If forgoing rendang and lemang is too “radical” for you, Ismail recommends vegetarian substitutes for meat like tempe, beans or tofu.

“You can mix it up – you can have beef or chicken rendang, but make one portion of tempe rendang and another portion of tofu rendang.

“In fact, my grandmother used to make rendang kacang panjang (straw beans) to go with lemang and ketupat for Raya. This would effectivelycut down the fat.”

“To make your Raya spread more nutritious, set up a salad bar or serve fresh fruits and fruit juices instead of syrup or fizzy drinks,” he advised.

“If you don’t serve a dish, people won’t eat it.

“Don’t be afraid to start new trends and traditions for Hari Raya so that people will have healthier choices,” he said.

To stay healthy, cake and biscuit maker Shoba Raman of recommends reducing sugar in the festive sweets.

“I have many diabetic customers, so I make sure that my cakes and biscuits are not too sweet.

“I am also using this special brand of sugar that is suitable for those with diabetes.

“I just need to use a little bit and it is already sweet,” said Shoba, who is a popular baker among the rich and famous, including fashion designer Zang Toi.

Shoba has even baked cakes for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s birthday several times.

For those who want to reduce their cholesterol intake, there are also alternatives.

Vegetarian cakes made without eggs are available, said Shoba.

Her specialties include low-sugar Red Velvet and low-sugar iced cupcakes.

“However, the key is still to eat in moderation.”

via Cook healthy food for Raya – Nation | The Star Online.

More govt help for elderly’s outpatient and hospital costs soon: Tharman

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said the government will soon make announcements on more help for older Singaporeans with their hospital and outpatient costs.

SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said the government will soon make announcements on more help for older Singaporeans with their hospital and outpatient costs.

He reiterated a call he made on Saturday night when he said Singapore must look after its senior citizens, who worked hard to build the country.

He added: “We will do more to help the older Singaporeans, especially for healthcare costs — hospital, polyclinic, nursing homes, all the aspects of healthcare costs.”

Mr Tharman was speaking at a carnival in Taman Jurong on Sunday.

He repeated his call for the government and community to help children who start off with less to move up, so that opportunities are more equal.

He also said that in the next 10 to 15 years, the desire is to see Singaporeans’ pay go up.

Mr Tharman added that the government will put a lot of emphasis on helping workers move up the ladder in their jobs.

He said: “I look at the problems in many other parts of the world. I think we can avoid these problems if we stay united, we work hard and we are fair and compassionate towards all our fellow citizens, including those who are working in simple jobs and their pay is not so high.”

– CNA/al

via More govt help for elderly’s outpatient and hospital costs soon: Tharman – Channel NewsAsia.

Danone Dumex recalls products


PETALING JAYA: Danone Dumex Malaysia has initiated a precautionary recall of some batches of its products following concerns over a whey protein bacterial contamination that can cause botulism.

It said none of the products tested and sold in Malaysia was found with contamination but new information given by Fonterra on Saturday had indicated that some ingredients supplied to the company might be contaminated.

“For this reason, Danone Dumex has instigated a precautionary recall in Malaysia,” it said in a statement.

It released the batch numbers of the recalled products (see graphic) and said consumers should not feed the products to infants.

“If you have been using these products to feed your infant and your child shows signs of illness, please contact your healthcare professional as a precautionary measure,” it said.

Danone Dumex said the recall only affected these batches sold in Malaysia and did not include other batches of the same products and other Danone Dumex products in the market.

If customers had bought products with the batch numbers, they could return them to the place of purchase for a full refund, it said.

The company apologised for any stress caused, saying that it was doing everything it could to resolve the issue and provide as much information and support as possible.

Last week, Fonterra announced that it discovered the potential presence of a strain of Clostridium (Clostridium Botulinum) involving three batches of a particular type of whey protein concentrate (WPC80), which can cause botulism.

Fonterra had then informed their clients to investigate their products.

Further information could be obtained from Danone Dumex’s Careline by calling 1800 38 1038.

Fonterra Malaysia said in a statement that “none of our consumer branded products – Anlene, Anmum, Anchor/Fernleaf – were affected and all are safe for consumption”.

“We would like to reiterate that all Fonterra-branded products in Malaysia do not contain WPC80,” it added.

via Danone Dumex recalls products – Nation | The Star Online.

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