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March 6th, 2012
05:21 PM ET

Veterans with PTSD more likely to be be prescribed painkillers

As veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, they continue to experience pain at home. And those who are diagnosed with mental health issues, including PTSD, are most likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers, according to a new study.

When surveying more than 140,000 veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq who had been diagnosed with some sort of pain, the study’s authors found that veterans with any mental health diagnosis, including depression, anxiety disorders, or drug and alcohol abuse, were 2.4 more times likely to be prescribed opioid painkillers, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, than veterans without any mental health diagnosis.

When looking at veterans diagnosed with PTSD, in particular, that rate was even higher. 17% of those with PTSD were prescribed opioids compared to just 6.5% of veterans without any mental health diagnosis.
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Filed under: Medications • Pain • PTSD

CDC: Deadly and preventable C. difficile infections at all-time high
March 6th, 2012
05:18 PM ET

CDC: Deadly and preventable C. difficile infections at all-time high

The number of people being hospitalized for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) has tripled in the past 10 years according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While other infections commonly spread in health care settings have been going down over the past decade, C. difficile infections are at "historically high and unacceptable levels," according to the CDC's Principal Deputy Director, Ileana Arias.

"C. difficile is causing many Americans to suffer and die,"  Arias says.  The CDC estimates about 14,000 people each year die from these infections, which can be treated if caught early.

The new CDC report finds that 94% of all C. difficile infections are connected to medical care settings, impacting patients not just in hospitals but also in nursing homes, doctors offices and other outpatient settings. The report finds that infections are being moved from one facility to another as infected patients get moved and necessary precautions to prevent the spread aren't taken. The CDC estimates about one-quarter of patients develop symptoms while in a hospital, the other 75% get sick in nursing homes, clinics or doctors offices.

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Skin products tainted with mercury
March 6th, 2012
04:59 PM ET

Skin products tainted with mercury

The Food and Drug Administration is cautioning consumers that skin creams, beauty and antiseptic soaps and lotions contaminated with mercury have been found in at least 7 states.

The products are made abroad and sold in the United States as skin lighteners and anti-aging creams. According to Gary Coody, national health fraud coordinator in the FDA's Office of Regulatory Affairs, some of the products are being sold online as well as in Latino, African, Asian or Middle Eastern neighborhoods. They are touted as products that can remove age spots, freckles, wrinkles and other blemishes. Some may be used by teenagers for acne.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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