Many of the events at last week's Republican National Convention in San Diego, from the keynote address by Rep. Susan Molinari
(R-N.Y.) to the "women in leadership" forum, were designed to overcome the gender gap suffered by Republican nominee Bob Dole.
Heading into the convention, polls showed that Dole trailed President Clinton among women voters by as much as 18%. Surveys found the gap was created not by the abortion issue, but primarily by the "safety net" issues of Medicare and Medicaid, according to pollsters Celinda Lake, a Democrat, and Ed Goeas, a Republican.
But overnight polls released at last week's convention showed that the Republican efforts have borne little fruit. By midweek the gap had shrunk by less than 1%.
Not that everyone didn't know it already, but Republicans made it clear last week that if Bob Dole wins the White House the party will work hard to give hospitals and physicians medical malpractice reform.
"The proliferation of litigation hits the consumer with higher prices and cripples the practice of medicine," said a plank in the GOP platform approved in San Diego last week.
Medical malpractice reform proposals endorsed by the GOP include capping medical malpractice noneconomic damage claims, limiting punitive damages, allowing installment payments of judgments and eliminating the joint-and-several-liability rule that allows hospitals to become the "deep pockets" when a physician doesn't carry enough insurance.
"Republican leaders have not wavered in their support for healthcare liability reform, and we look on (the) platform action as boosting our efforts to secure comprehensive federal healthcare liability reform," said Wayne Sinclair, executive committee chairman of the Health Care Liability Alliance.
Various proposals for medical malpractice reform were debated in Congress earlier this year. However, threats of a veto from President Clinton prevented any measure from becoming law.
Convents may soon replace spas as the resort of choice for health-minded consumers.
A study published in the July 1996 issue of the Gerontological Society of America's Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences found that nuns live longer than other American women, probably as a result of their no-smoking, no-boozing lifestyle.
Researchers Steven M. Butler and David A. Snowdon of the University of Kentucky studied the mortality rates of 2,573 members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame congregation who were born between 1886 and 1916 and died by 1965. About 99% of the nuns were Caucasian and of European descent. The remainder were primarily Hispanic. The nuns never smoked, had not borne children, rarely drank alcohol, were lifelong educators or domestic workers, lived in convents, and had access to similar preventive and medical services.
The researchers compared the mortality rates of the nuns with those of white women in the general population who lived and died in the same era. According to their findings, 73 nuns died for every 100 women in the general population who passed away. The researchers concluded that the nuns' habits contributed to their lower-than-average mortality rate.
With respect to specific causes of death, the researchers noted that fewer nuns died from respiratory cancers than members of the general population, most likely because they didn't smoke. However, more nuns died from cancers of the breast and reproductive organs because they did not have children, the study found.
Needle-stick injuries are the leading route by which blood-borne illnesses can infect healthcare workers on the job. There are 800,000 such injuries every year in the United States.
Nurse Lynda Arnold has launched a one-woman crusade to prevent them. She wants the nation's 6,000 hospitals to sign a "pledge to healthcare worker safety."
Arnold knows how high the cost of these accidents can be. In 1992 she was withdrawing an IV catheter needle from a patient at Community Hospital in Lancaster, Pa., when the man jerked. Despite latex gloves and routine precautions, the needle went into her palm. Six months later she tested positive for HIV. Now 27 years old, she is dedicating herself to the cause of better protection for healthcare workers.
"I am living proof that needle sticks happen and that the consequences can be deadly," Arnold said. "I am more than a (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) statistic. I am committed to fighting against occupational exposure to HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases."
Several cases of salmonella poisoning transmitted to children by reptiles were reported by Children's Hospital Medical Center, Akron, Ohio. All four children suffered intestinal and bloodstream infections, and it was reported that one child contracted meningitis as a complication of the infection.
According to Blaise Congeni, M.D., director of infectious disease at Children's, DNA testing found the same organism present in the children and their families' pet reptiles. The sources of the infections were traced to three iguanas and a snake.
According to a Children's spokesman, reptiles always carry the disease, whether dormant or active, in their intestines. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued recommendations for preventing the transmission of salmonella from reptiles to humans and identified people with increased risk for infection or serious complications of salmonellosis.
Recommendations include keeping the pets out of food-preparation areas and keeping their food dishes, cages and aquariums away from the kitchen area. They may not be appropriate pets in households where people at increased risk for infection reside.