Health Highlights: Aug 18, 2015

Health Highlights: Aug 18, 2015

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

Appeals Will Delay Concussion Settlement Payments to Former NFL Players

Appeals filed by former NFL players who oppose the terms of a proposed $1 billion concussion settlement will likely delay payments to thousands of other retired players until next year.

It was expected that more than a dozen appeals on behalf of up to 90 former players would be filed by Monday’s deadline. The appeals could be heard this fall by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Associated Press reported.

The settlement covers more than 20,000 former players for 65 years. Maximum payouts could be as high as $5 million, but would likely average $190,000.

Some of the appeals challenge the settlements’ exclusion of future cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is brain deterioration believed to be associated with football concussions, the AP reported.

Other former players are concerned that the settlement provides payments for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, but not for behavioral and mood problems some believed are associated with concussions and CTE.

The science on CTE is still evolving, according to negotiators who reached the settlement. Estates of players who died and were diagnosed with CTE between 2006 and 2014 can seek up to $4 million, but future deaths linked to CTE are excluded to avoid “incentiving” suicide. Currently, CTE cannot be diagnosed in the living, the AP reported.

Other former players appealing the settlement want award calculations to include time played in training camp and preseason games. Under the current calculations, a player had to play in three regular season games to get credit for that season. Payments are much lower for players with less than five years in the league.

The appeals are “heartbreaking news for injured retired NFL players who will now be forced to wait many months longer for the care and financial support they desperately need,” said Chris Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired-player plaintiffs, the AP reported.

The NFL estimates that about 6,000 former players will develop Alzheimer’s disease or moderate dementia over the next few decades, and a small number will develop Parkinson’s disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease.


New York State Implements New Rules to Fight Legionnaires’ Disease

All building cooling towers in New York state will have to be tested and inspected under emergency health regulations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

The rules were introduced in response the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City that killed 12 people. No new cases have been reported since Aug. 3, the Associated Press reported.

The regulations require all owners of buildings with cooling towers to register the structures with the state health department within 30 days. The towers must be regularly tested for Legionella bacteria and contaminated towers must be disinfected immediately.

“This summer’s outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease caused concern in communities across the state, and today we are moving forward to help prevent future outbreaks and keep our neighborhoods safe,” Cuomosaid in a statement, the AP reported.

“I want to reassure all New Yorkers: We are addressing the problem at its source and protecting the public health, statewide,” he added.


FDA Reveals More Violations by Medical Scope Maker

New violations by the maker of medical scopes recently linked to deadly infections in patients have been discovered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Olympus Corp. did not alert officials about a cluster of 16 infections in patients who underwent procedures with the company’s scopes in 2012, the FDA said in a warning letter posted online Monday, the Associated Press reported.

The infections were disclosed by Olympus only in 2015, when the company was already being investigated for more recent outbreaks.

Regulations require medical device makers to report serious problems to the FDA within 30 days of learning about them, the AP reported.

The warning letter also noted that Olympus has no standard procedure for immediately reporting serious problems with its medical devices, even though that is an FDA requirement.

“We are reviewing the FDA’s warning letter so that we can provide the required response in a timely manner,” an Olympus spokesman told the AP.

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