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Monday, September 29, 2008

Deaths soar from hospital superbugs

Almost 37,000 NHS patients have died after catching either the MRSA or C-difficile hospital superbugs during Labour's time in office, official figures show.

The two virulent infections claimed 36,674 lives between 1997 and 2007. Of those, 26,208 were from Clostridium difficile and 10,466 from MRSA. Numbers dying in England and Wales from C-difficile soared from 975 in 1999 to 8,324 last year, a jump of about 850 per cent, while fatalities linked to MRSA grew from 386 in 1997 to 1,593 in 2007.

Conservative shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who obtained the figures from the Department of Health, said: 'It's tragic that so many patients have had their lives cut short because of Labour's failure to do what it takes to root out hospital infections.' He said hospitals needed to improve hygiene, introduce better prescribing of antibiotics and create more isolation facilities to stop infections spreading.

However, the DoH data, based on causes of death recorded on death certificates, underestimates the true toll. Deaths involving C-diff in those under 65 only began being recorded in April last year. However, a DoH spokesman said the halving in the number of cases of MRSA in England between 2004 and 2008 showed that its strategy for tackling infection was delivering results.

Jo Webber of the NHS Confederation, which represents most hospitals, said that better monitoring and recording went some way to explaining the rises, but admitted that the real incidence of both infections had increased.

From next April, many more patients will be screened for MRSA and C-diff on arrival at hospital or before they receive treatment.

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15 Diabetes-Friendly Snack Tips

"Don't eat between meals." If you've ever heard that advice, you might want to take it with a grain of salt. If you go more than four or five hours between meals, a mid-afternoon snack might be just what the doctor ordered to help you keep your blood sugar steady. Snacking is also important if you're taking medication that could cause a blood-sugar low between meals. Discuss with your doctor or a registered dietitian what snacking approach is right for you.

Help keep your snacking "honest.
1. Keep your snacks to 150 calories or less. The danger of snacks is that they can become more like extra meals if you go overboard. First, make sure you're truly hungry—and not just bored or stressed or craving chocolate—before reaching for a snack. Then limit yourself to 150 calories per snack. This will help keep your snacking "honest." After all, it's hard to find a candy bar with only 150 calories. And if you're hankering for a candy bar, but a healthier snack doesn't appeal, you're probably not truly hungry.

2. Beware of low-fat snacks. Studies show that people tend to eat about 28 percent more of a snack when it's low-fat because they think they're saving on calories. But low-fat snacks such as cookies only have about 11 percent fewer calories than their full-fat counterparts. Stick to the same amount you'd eat if you thought the snack was full-fat.

3. Plate your snacks. Eat straight out of the bag and you're guaranteed to eat more, whether it's chips, pretzels, or cookies. Instead, put a small portion on a plate, seal up the bag and put it away, then sit down and enjoy your snack.

4. Grab the whole bag. A single serving bag, that is. You're much more likely to stop after one serving if you don't have to measure it out yourself. If paying more for extra packaging that will eventually clog landfills bothers you, separate your snacks yourself into reusable single-serving containers when you get home from the grocery store so they're ready to grab when you're ready to eat them.

5. Pour a handful of nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and cashews contain the healthy monounsaturated fats that lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. And because they're packed with protein and "good" fat, they won't raise blood sugar as much as crackers or pretzels do. Because many nuts are high in calories (almonds are the lowest), stick to an ounce, or about the amount that will fit in the palm of your hand.

6. Have a few whole-grain crackers with peanut butter. You'll eat more protein and fewer carbs than if you have a bigger pile of crackers with no peanut butter, and your blood sugar won't rise as much.

7. Snack on raw veggies. Get in an extra serving of vegetables by nibbling on grape tomatoes, carrots, red and green peppers, cucumbers, broccoli crowns, and cauliflower. Eat them plain or dip them into nonfat yogurt, a light salad dressing, or hummus (stick with 1 to 2 tablespoons' worth).

8. Spread some black bean salsa over eggplant slices. The salsa has only about 15 grams of carbs, 80 calories, and 1 gram of fat.

9. Sip a small cup of vegetable soup. Cook non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, onion, celery, green beans, and squash in some vegetable or chicken stock. It's filling, full of veggies, and low in carbs.

10. Indulge in a few decadent bites. Have a snack of three dried apricots, a small piece of dark chocolate (about the size of a Hershey's miniature chocolate bar), and three walnuts or almonds, suggests Vicki Saunders, RD, who teaches nutrition education programs at St. Helena Hospital in Napa Valley, California. Savor every nibble!

11. Blend a fruit smoothie. Combine half of a chopped banana, 3⁄4 cup nonfat plain yogurt, and a non-nutritive sweetener, and blend until smooth.

12. Freeze grapes and peeled bananas. Seal them in a sandwich bag and throw it into the freezer. Once frozen, they're a refreshing and healthy treat. You can eat 20 red seedless grapes and still consume only 100 calories.

13. Eat an apple—and the skin. An apple with the skin contains about 3 grams of fiber. The skin packs a double whammy, carrying healthy soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease and antioxidants that fight free radicals and lower the risk of diabetes complications.

14. Try low-fat string cheese. Each one contains only 80 calories. These are one of the few portable goodies rich in sugar-steadying protein.

15. Have your chocolate "bar" frozen. By that we mean enjoy a frozen fudge pop. They taste delightfully chocolatey but contain only about 80 calories.

Original here

Aspiring chef dies hours after making ultra-hot sauce for chilli-eating contest

By Paul Sims

An aspiring cook who challenged his friend to a chilli-eating contest died just hours later.

Andrew Lee, 33, had used a bag of home-grown red chillies to make a super-hot sauce.

The forklift truck driver, who had recently passed a medical at work, dared his girlfriend's brother to eat a spoonful - then ate a plateful himself. Shortly after he had a heart attack and died.

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee made an ultra-hot sauce with homegrown chillis. The morning after he was found unconscious and paramedics were unable to revive him

Mr Lee took a jar of the sauce to his girlfriend's house last weekend, where he challenged her brother Michael, his family said.

His sister, Claire Chadbourne, 29, explained: 'They had a contest over who could make the hottest chilli sauce.

'Andrew had used chillies to make Thai dishes before but had never made anything this hot.

'My dad grew the chillies especially for Andrew. The contest was planned and he gave them to him.

'Andrew just ate it with a plate of Dolmio. It was not a proper meal because he had already eaten lamb chops and mash after coming home from work. I don't know if Michael ate the chilli sauce as well.'

But as he went to bed after the contest, Mr Lee, of Edlington, Doncaster, had complained of itching, she added.

The next morning, his girlfriend Samantha Bailey, a mother of four, found him unconscious.

She called an ambulance, but paramedics were unable to revive him. Mr Lee was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mrs Chadbourne added: 'He apparently got into bed at 2.30am and started scratching all over.

'His girlfriend scratched his back until he fell asleep. She woke up and he was dead.

'Who would have thought he could have died from eating chilli sauce? We don't know of anything else that could have caused his death.

'He was perfectly healthy and the post-mortem showed no heart problems.'

She added: 'He loved cooking for his friends and was a good cook. He always said he wanted to be a chef but didn't want to start at the bottom.

'He would do anything for anybody. He never held a grudge and loved fishing and computers.'

Mr Lee's mother, Pamela, 61, said: 'He had used chillies in cooking but never made a sauce like this before.

1'He tested the sauce after making it, stuck his finger in and went to wash it, saying, "Wow, that's hot."

'We don't know what happened to him. Something has given him a cardiac arrest and we can only put it down to the chilli sauce.'

Toxicology tests are under way to see whether Mr Lee had a fatal reaction to the sauce.

Attempts to develop ever hotter varieties of chilli pepper have been condemned by health experts, who warn of potentially lethal effects.

Mild adverse reactions can include burning eyes, a streaming nose and uncontrollable hiccups.

Original here

California Tortilla Cashier Screams At Disabled Customer Who Accidentally Spilled Tray

Update: The owner of the California Tortilla left an excellent response, republished inside in full.

Reader Mark is a California Tortilla fanatic. He slept outside the Ranson store so he could be their first customer, earning a year of free burritos. Mark kept patronizing California Tortilla even after he fractured his back in a car accident and started wearing a bulky back brace that limited his ability to move or bend. On one visit, Mark accidentally knocked over his tray. When nobody came to help, Mark asked the cashier for assistance and was startled when she replied, "So I guess you want me to clean it up?" She then managed to further embarrass Mark by loudly explaining to other customers, "Sorry I kinda have to clean up when someone makes a mess."

Mark cc'd us on his email to California Tortilla headquarters:

I wanted to convey my recent dining experience at the Ranson California Tortilla.

I have been a long time customer and was extremely excited when the Ranson location opened in the summer of 2007. Heck I was so excited I slept outside the restaurant and managed to be the 1st customer in line on opening day garnering the fame and awe of my friends and co-workers and even random strangers I meet when I tell the tale of that fateful night, how awesome and spunky California Tortilla is and the fact that yes they may shake my hand since I have earned the prestigious honor of free burritos for a year!

Ever since that fateful day I have been religiously eating out at California Tortilla, admittedly spending way too much money (Damn you and your gimmicky marketing ploy!).

In early December of 2007 I was involved in a serious car accident fracturing my back and leaving my incapacitated for several weeks. When I finally regained the ability to move I was placed in a brace that runs from my lower back up to my neck. As you can imagine this not only made life not so fun it also limited my ability to do simple things like bend or move, isn’t it amazing how much these basic activities play a roll in your daily life? Needless to say I neglected my duty to eat at California Tortilla for almost two grueling months.

Upon receiving your monthly Taco Talk© (Issue 150!) (or as I refer to it as your ‘Call to Action! Newsletter!) detailing the plight of the worst sales week of the year I decided it was my duty as a loyal spunky customer to support your American dream of a bigger vacation home or possibly a new sports car, and had to act!

Despite the fact that I was still unable to fully function and had limited mobility I took the family to the Ranson California Tortilla and ordered 1 kids burrito, 1 chili taco bowl, 1 Caribbean Jerk burrito combo and 1 Kids MYO platter at 12:20pm (order #221). I received the food and began to prepare to eat having the usual joyous time picking out a new hot sauce and to get a drink. Upon attempting to sit down in my seat my body brace made contact with my food tray and spilled my entire meal ($19.57 after discount) onto the floor spilling the drink on the floor, throwing the chips and queso around and destroying the meals. After the customary cursing at myself for being so stupid and figured your normally awesome, attentive and friendly employees, several of whom were walking around the restaurant would come to help me out, none did. Several fellow customers offered napkins to help me clean up but obviously making such a mess required more than several napkins, not to mention the fact that I could not bend over to attempt to clean up. Seeing that no one was helping me I approached the take out cashier station and began to explain my predicament to the female behind the counter (white female, 18-22 years old, 5’3”), she yelled ‘what I can’t hear you’. I again told her that spilled my food and drink all over the floor, she rudely sighed and stated ‘so I guess you want me to clean it up?’ A short while later the employee trudged over to began to assist in cleaning up the mess, when another customer attempted to walk by the employee yelled to him ‘sorry I kinda have to clean up when someone makes a mess’. Needless to say if I didn’t feel enough like shit for ruining my family’s meal the comment by the employee and her entire reaction to the event pretty much sealed the deal.

The employee than left the area, neither her nor any other employee approached me and offered any replacement food items or any other type of encouragement. I allowed my children to finish their brownies and drinks and promptly left feeling about as big as an ant, still hungry after paying $20 to throw food on the floor.

I understand that this incident is not your employees fault, but as awesome as employees, managers and store owners have been in the past helping refill drinks and other needs I was a little shocked at the treatment I received. I’ve received friendlier and warmer customer service from the employees at McDonald's when such an event happens there then I received from the employees on this visit. Knowing how you strive to provide an exceptional customer experience I’m sure you share my disgust with the treatment I received on this visit. If this is going to be the type of treatment I receive from your employees I think I’ll take my business elsewhere!

Owner Larry Herman responded with the following:

My name is Larry Herman, Owner of California Tortilla in Ranson, WV. Thanks so much for the post. Two minutes ago was the first I became aware of your story as I was forwarded an email from someone who read that post. It was the first time that I have been made aware of this incident. I was never forwarded the email sent to headquarters. Not an excuse, just an explanation as to why I am commenting now. I want to immediately respond. I apologize for our failure to communicate and accept all responsibility. In spite of the fact that I have many, many wonderful emails explaining great experiences (a few references were made in yours), anything less than the finest service on every visit with every customer is unacceptable. Plain and simple. Even one instance will not be tolerated. I would like to know some more details from you so I can address and deal with the employee and any other staff that were involved as well as ensure that any and all future visits were just like all the others that you have had. I appreciate the comments suggesting possible scenarios. I accept NONE of them! We employ people to do the exact opposite of this and think they all do. Obviously, someone did not this time. Once is over my limit. 100% concern 100% of the time for 100% of the customers is our ONLY acceptable type of behavior. This type of attitude, EVEN ONCE, is something up with which we will not put! There is NEVER a reason to treat anyone with this or any type of disrespect. I will personally make sure that this employee and situation is dealt with swiftly and immediately. Please contact me at the store 304-728-7500 or ranson@californiatortilla.com. YOU and all of our customers are the reason we are here. We appreciate you and will only employ people who treat everyone with the most superior respect, care, and courtesy. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks. Larry

Original here

Men can't be charged in rapes despite DNA links

By STEVE THOMPSON / The Dallas Morning News
stevethompson@dallasnews.com

He raped a 12-year-old girl at knifepoint more than two decades ago. Now police say they know who he is.

But he won't be arrested. He won't face a judge or jury. He won't even need to apologize.

Dewayne Douglas Willis, 47, will complete his sentence for unrelated theft and burglary charges next month – and walk out of prison a free man.

Dallas police say he is one of six men recently linked to rape cases from the 1980s through DNA profiles or fingerprints. But authorities say it is impossible to prosecute them because of an old statute of limitations.

"He doesn't even get a slap on the wrist, and as far as I'm concerned, he should be in prison for the rest of his life," says the victim, now 36 and living in Frisco. "He took something from me that I will never, ever get back, and for that there is no justice."

It's an issue Dallas must face because, unlike most counties nationwide, it has preserved DNA evidence for decades. And though 19 prisoners have been exonerated as a result, that evidence is incriminating people as well.

Dallas police are taking a second look at hundreds of old rape cases in light of advancing technology. That leaves officials grappling with how to handle the newfound suspects.

If they can't be charged, Dallas police and District Attorney Craig Watkins would like to require them to register as sex offenders, and to have their deeds noted in their criminal histories.

"This is all new," Mr. Watkins says. "We're going into uncharted territory."

The Frisco woman, who is not being named because The Dallas Morning News does not typically identify victims of sexual assault, describes that night in October 1983 as a sort of murder – the murder of her childhood.

A stranger came through a cracked window about 2:30 a.m. He climbed the stairwell of her two-story home near University Park, where the girl lived with her mother and stepfather. She awoke and rose from bed.

"Take your shirt off," he said, holding a steak knife in one hand and a flashlight in the other. "Shut up. Don't scream, or I'll hurt you."

He forced her into bed, and when she tried to resist, he slapped her, once in the face and twice in the back of the head.

Afterward, he told her to give him all her money. She handed over $36.

He made her show him where the car keys were. Then he loaded a stereo and television into the family's blue Chevy.

He tied her hands behind her back with a purse strap and bound her feet with a lamp cord.

The sound of the car pulling out of the driveway woke her parents. She remembers her stepfather talking on the kitchen phone with police. She remembers her mother screaming to him: "He raped her! He raped her!"

She remembers waiting on a gurney in a hallway because Parkland Memorial Hospital was full. She remembers hurting so much that they couldn't immediately perform the rape exam.

This summer, the Frisco woman, now a mother of three, read an article in The Dallas Morning News describing the Sexual Assault Cold Case Program. In 2005, Dallas police Sgt. Pat Welsh had begun reopening old cases for which rape exams were preserved.

In a laboratory inside Dallas' Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, banks of freezers hold thousands of evidence samples dating as far back as 1981. While most jurisdictions have discarded such evidence, if they collected it at all, Dallas County has saved it.

The evidence has helped Sgt. Welsh solve dozens of cold cases.

The woman phoned the sergeant. He had the DNA from her decades-old rape exam checked against a database of DNA profiles collected from convicted felons. He got a match.

Soon, she was sitting at a table inside Dallas police headquarters. Sgt. Welsh showed her a file on Mr. Willis, a career burglar with a lengthy rap sheet that included punching a prison guard in the face.

This was the man who had raped her, the sergeant said. But because of the statute of limitations, there was nothing they could do.

The file charted Mr. Willis' life in and out of prison. He had been paroled in October 1983, days before the rape.

"Do you have a picture?" she finally asked. When she first saw his face, she was surprised. "There he was, just a guy," she says. "He looked kind of scared and sad and angry in the picture. But he's just a guy."

Mr. Willis, who is to be released Oct. 18, has not responded to an interview request. But he has talked with a prison official who approached him about the rape.

At first Mr. Willis said he didn't remember raping her, though he admitted he may have burglarized the house. But as the interview went on he began to cry, the official said, and he said he would like to apologize to her.

The Frisco woman says she would like to give him that opportunity. But she probably won't, because doing so would require her to give him her name for his visitors' list.

"In a strange way, I don't know if – so what if he's sorry," she says. "But it might help a little."

What she would like more is justice: He should have to pay for all the years she's spent feeling afraid, untrusting, dirty, different, not quite whole.

"Just because it happened 25 years ago doesn't make it any less important. It doesn't make him any less responsible for raping me," she says. "It doesn't mean he gets a pass just because he did it a long time ago – it shouldn't, anyway."

Unfortunately, the law says he will.

The statute of limitation on rape in Texas spanned only five years in the 1980s. Such laws protect the rights of defendants in situations where time has washed away evidence that could exonerate them. People die, memories fade, records disappear.

Because of the certainty brought by new technology, Texas' statute of limitations for rape was eliminated in 1996 for cases with suspect DNA. But the U.S. Constitution says those accused of crimes in the past can only be held accountable based on the laws in place at the time.

One legal expert says even listing them as sex offenders is a dangerous idea.

"Because if they could, it's left to the discretion of the prosecutors who they decide to label as a sex offender, even though the person hasn't been convicted of it," says Fred Moss, a law professor at Southern Methodist University and a former federal prosecutor. "That strikes me as being the worst possible solution. None of us are safe then."

But Mr. Watkins says DNA technology is a game-changer.

"We have advanced to the point to where we can identify a person that committed the crime out of one in 1 billion people," he says. "So pretty much we can identify a person and exclude the rest of this planet."

Mr. Watkins plans to present a package of ideas for lawmakers to consider next year.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Welsh will keep working old rape cases. He has reopened more than 100 from 1983. He plans to do the same with cases from 1984 and 1985.

“They want to know who their attacker was,” he says. “They’re looking over their shoulder even today.”

After her rape, the Frisco woman assumed police would catch the man.

“I just thought that they would, but they never did,” she says. “And then I felt forgotten about.”

For 25 years, she has wondered who ransacked her childhood, and she is grateful to Sgt. Welsh for finding him. But it has also left her frustrated.

“I think it’s horrible that our system allows him to walk free after he took away everything from me,” she says.

But if he ever again goes to court for a crime, she plans to be there to testify against him at his punishment.

“And maybe then my rape will count,” she says. “Maybe then it will matter to somebody what he did to me.”

Revisiting old cases

The Sexual Assault Cold Case Program focuses on Dallas sexual assault cases from 1970 to 1990 that were stranger-on-stranger attacks and that DNA could solve. Victims of sexual assault who would like their cases reopened can call police at 214-671-3584.

Other suspects

Joe Edward Andrews, 48, has been linked by DNA to the 1983 attack of an elderly woman raped at gunpoint in Pleasant Grove. He has spent time in Texas prisons on burglary and aggravated robbery charges but was released years ago.

Malcolm Earl Jordan, 63, has been linked through fingerprints to a 1984 attack in which police say he posed as an air-conditioning repairman before raping and robbing a 22-year-old woman in northeast Dallas. He also has a long rap sheet but is now free.

Carl Jessie, 44, has been linked through DNA evidence to a 1983 assault on a woman who was looking for her car outside the State Fair. She was dragged behind a nearby school and raped. He's in a Texas prison for cocaine trafficking but is to be released in 2010.

John Wayne Byan, 51, also known as John W. Mason, is serving life in a Louisiana prison on rape and burglary charges from 1986. He has been linked by fingerprint to a 1983 rape case in which a 29-year-old woke in her Old East Dallas apartment and found a naked man on top of her.

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