Mom claims diet soda sent her into a coma after severe allergic reaction

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A mother in England reportedly spent three days in a coma after she unknowingly drank a diet soda and suffered a severe allergic reaction to the ingredients. Elizabeth Perkins, who claims she ordered a regular soda at her local pub, has a severe allergy to aspartame which is commonly found in diet sodas, according to Caters News Agency.

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Perkins claims she stressed to the bartender that she wanted a regular soda, but said she could tell from the first sip that something was off. Perkins told Caters News Agency that the room went dark, and she woke three days later in the hospital.

Perkins said she could tell from the first sip that something was wrong.
(Caters News Agency)

“I don’t think people realize what a big difference something like that makes, and since the sugar tax, fewer and fewer places are serving the full-fat drinks,” Perkins told Caters News Agency, adding that her two sons share her allergy. “Some people automatically give you the low-sugar or sugar-free versions but for me, that mistake could be fatal.”

The sugar tax means manufacturers in the U.K. must pay a tax on high-sugar beverages, similar to legislation in Mexico, France and Norway.

Aspartame is approved by the FDA, WHO, American Heart Association, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and American Dietetic Association for human consumption. However, according to HealthLine people who have phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid consuming aspartame. People with PKU aren’t able to properly process phenylalanine, making aspartame highly toxic.

Perkins said she and her two sons, who share her allergy, feel like they are being penalized by the sugar tax.
(Caters News Agency)

Additionally, according to a review published in JAMA Internal Medicine, an allergic-type reaction to aspartame may cause swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, urticarial, skin eruptions, itching, the aggravation of respiratory allergies and possibly the swelling of the salivary glands.

Research is exploring a link between the artificial sweeteners and a range of ailments, including seizures, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, but is so far inconclusive, according to HealthLine. It’s not clear if Perkins suffers from PKU or any other ailments, but she said the sugar tax feels like her family is “being penalized.”

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Flight attendant may have exposed passengers to Hepatitis A: CDC

An American Airlines flight attendant may have exposed passengers on several flights to Hepatitis A, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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One of those exposures took place on a flight between San Francisco and Charlotte on Sept. 21, North Carolina-based Mecklenburg County Public Health Department confirmed to ABC News. The health department contacted 18 local passengers, all of whom received Hepatitis A vaccinations.

Hepatitis A is usually transmitted from person-to-person by ingesting fecal matter or contaminated food or water. The disease, which affects the liver, causes flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice in adults, according to the CDC. Children younger than six months old do not typically have recognizable symptoms.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against Hepatitis A.

American Airlines would not confirm to ABC News that one of its flight attendants had contracted Hepatitis A or another disease. The airline said in a statement that it’s in close contact with the CDC and “will coordinate with them on any required health and safety related measures.”

The CDC said in a statement that because the flight attendant had diarrhea on several flights during the period in which he was considered infectious, the agency is investigating and notifying passengers who may have been affected.

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Data breach fixes could impact patient care: study

IT security measures implemented following data breaches at hospitals may cost valuable time in delivering life-saving care, according to new research by Eric Johnson, Ralph Owen Dean and Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, and Christoph Lehmann, professor of pediatrics and biomedical informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The paper, “Data breach remediation efforts and their implications for hospital quality,” appears in the October issue of Health Services Research. Sung Choi, assistant professor of health management and informatics at the University of Central Florida, is the lead author.

“In the security economics world, there’s a lot of discussion about who bears the cost of data breaches—individuals or firms,” Johnson said. “We often see bad outcomes for consumers when their credit card information is stolen, for example, but we don’t necessarily see firms bearing the full cost of losing that data. What we wanted to see here was whether there were any implications for patients when their data is stolen.”

Hospitals are required by law to report data breaches to federal authorities, who then may open an investigation and oversee corrective action. This could mean enhanced authentication processes, longer passwords, quicker logout times for idle computers, and so forth. Johnson and his colleagues wondered if these new processes and additional security steps could be delaying care at crucial moments by impeding quick access to computerized systems.

Minutes and seconds matter for a hospital: When a patient arrives at an emergency room with chest pain, he or she needs to be seen immediately. Medical guidelines state that the patient should receive an EKG as soon as possible—within 10 minutes at most—and HHS tracks this quality metric for all Medicare-authorized hospitals. It also tracks the 30-day mortality rate for heart attacks.

Using the HHS breach data and quality data on more than 3,000 hospitals from 2012-2016, Johnson and his coauthors were able to see if there was change in care quality in the years following a breach.

“We found that following a breach, time-to-EKG and mortality rates both rose, and continued to rise for about three years before tapering off,” Johnson said, noting that the average time-to-EKG increased by as much as 2.7 minutes, and an increase in the 30-day mortality rate for heart attacks that translated to as many as 36 additional deaths per 10,000 heart attacks per year.

He explained that data breaches are often not discovered right away and that there is usually another lag while the breach is investigated and security updates are recommended and implemented. “So this long timeframe tells us that in breached hospitals, it’s the remediation efforts—not the breach itself, but the post-breach remediation efforts—that are impacting these time-sensitive processes and patient outcome measures.”

Johnson cautioned that they were not able to determine exactly what was causing the change after the breach or which security measures in particular may be associated with the delay, but he said these findings suggest that federal authorities and hospitals need to carefully consider usability when recommending and implementing changes.

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