The lawmaker who brought you one of the biggest increases in federal healthcare research dollars is leaving a little more behind.
Rep. John Edward Porter (R-Ill.), who as chairman of the House Appropriations HHS subcommittee advocated a huge increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health, is donating about $325,000 of his unspent campaign donations to the medical school of his alma mater, Northwestern University. Porter is retiring after 20 years in Congress.
The donation will help fund a professorship of biomedical research in Porter's name. The university wants a total of
$2 million to fund the position, which has been awarded to a Northwestern professor of microbiology and immunology.
Federal election law allows members of Congress to use their unspent campaign dollars for any lawful purpose other than their own personal finances. In many cases, the funds are diverted to the campaign committees of the national parties, but some lawmakers, like Porter, use them for charitable donations or to start foundations.
Words of wisdom. Here's some valuable practical advice that came out of the 86th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America: When cleaning a clogged spray-paint gun, only stick in a finger you are willing to lose.
Researchers at the University of Southern California presented a study that found that once paint is removed from a clogged nozzle and the pressure is released, paint can shoot out of the gun and become lodged inside the finger. The wound may seem small and innocuous, but it requires immediate surgical attention--as any radiologist conducting a basic X-ray will testify.
Co-authors Thomas Learch, M.D., and Babak Shayestehfar, M.D., said that 15 men came into the emergency room of the USC University Hospital, Los Angeles, during a four-year period with a finger injury caused by an apparently not-so-freak accident with a high pressure spray-paint gun. Each of the accidents occurred after the victim injected a finger to clean the nozzle. In total, nine index fingers, five middle fingers and one thumb were treated in the hospital's ER.
X-rays revealed that in some cases the paint lodged in the tip, but in other cases it traveled the length of the finger. Sometimes the paint can even travel into the palm and the arm, the two radiologists said. They brought photographic examples: The blue stuff running through the veins of one palm was definitely not blood.
Whether the hapless painters came into the ER immediately or waited several weeks, all needed surgery to remove the paint. One patient developed a bone infection requiring antibiotics; another required amputation. All 15 had some permanent injury that at the least affected range of motion and strength.
Apart from reading the clearly written safety instructions included with the spray guns, the doctors had this suggestion: "Obviously, the best advice is not to use your finger to clean a clogged nozzle."
A healthy improvement. Arkansans have been replaced by Mississippi residents as the unhealthiest in the nation, according to a new study.
The annual ranking by Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth Group found New Hampshire to be the healthiest state. Minnesota slipped a notch from the 1999 survey to No. 2 and was followed by Utah, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
Arkansas improved to 46th from 50th, and UnitedHealth says the state had the greatest improvement from last year based on 17 federal statistics covering diseases, deaths, working conditions and healthcare.
Nationally, the report showed a 2.6% improvement in Americans' health compared with the 1999 survey, and a 17.6% increase since 1990. The reasons cited included a decline in smoking and motor vehicle deaths and lower unemployment rates.
Mississippi, ranked 50th, has consistently been listed among the four unhealthiest states by UnitedHealth. The company says Mississippi has poor rankings for motor vehicle deaths, heart disease, infant mortality and premature death.
Homeless on the Web. The nation's museums recently earned their own dot-com designation: logically enough, it's dot-museum. But when the organization that oversees Web nomenclature announced categories of content that deserve their own Internet domain name, healthcare was not on the list. Advocates of a dot-health suffix argued that with more than 50 million Americans using the Internet to locate health information, a unique naming convention was a logical way to group that information.
That opinion wasn't shared by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (affectionately known as ICANN), which decided against dot-health, as well as dot-tel for telephone numbers. As a result, the WebMDs and drkoop.coms of the world will have to patiently wait for their own healthcare clubhouse on the Web.
Good for the heart. A team of Maryland medical researchers found that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh in humorous situations than those with healthy hearts.
"The old saying that laughter is the best medicine definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," says Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventative Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore.
It is uncertain, however, whether humor helps prevent heart problems or if people with heart problems tend to lose their senses of humor.
The study of 300 people--half of whom had histories of heart problems--used questionnaires to gauge how healthy people and those with heart disease differed in their responses to situations where humor was expected.
The people with heart disease were much less likely to even recognize humor. They also laughed less, even in positive situations, and generally displayed more anger and hostility than people with healthy hearts.