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Parental consent for HPV vaccine should not be waived: US poll

Most Americans support laws that allow teens to get medical care for sexually transmitted infections without parental consent. But when asked about the vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), most adults want parents to have the final say on whether their teen or pre-teen gets the shots. A University of Michigan poll on children’s health found only 45 per cent of those surveyed would support state laws allowing the HPV vaccination without parental consent. Public health officials have considered pushing laws that would drop the need for parental consent, in order to boost HPV vaccination rates. But in this poll, most agreed they were reluctant to support dropping parental consent, even though 74 per cent agreed that getting vaccines is a good way to protect adolescents from disease. The most common reason, cited by 86 per cent, was that HPV should be a parent’s decision; 43 per cent cited the risk of side effects of the vaccine. About 40 per cent said they have moral or ethical concerns about the vaccine. Associate Director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research at the University of Michigan, Sarah Clark, said the poll results show that that the majority of adults view HPV vaccination as distinct from sexually transmitted infection prevention and are reluctant to support taking away parental consent. Policymakers should provide education to ensure adults understand the importance of HPV vaccination as a form of prevention against sexually transmitted infections, she said. The HPV vaccine protects against genital warts, one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infection. In the long term, the vaccine prevents development of cervical cancer in females and some head and neck cancers in men.

High rates of elder abuse in low income US communities

Forty per cent of low-income Latino elders in the US have been abused or neglected in the past year — but fewer than two per cent have reported the abuse to authorities. A new study by researchers from the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology finds that elder abuse in low-income Latino communities goes largely unreported. More than 40 per cent of Latino elders told Spanish-speaking interviewers that they had been abused or neglected in the last year — yet only 1.5 per cent of victims said they had ever reported the abuse to authorities. “Our study has revealed a much higher rate of elder abuse among the Latino community than had been previously thought,” said Marguerite DeLiema of the USC Davis School of Gerontology. “This indicates that family solidarity within the Latino community does not necessarily protect older Latinos against elder abuse, as some research has suggested.” The researchers examined elder abuse that included physical or sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial exploitation and caregiver neglect. The researchers found that 10.7 percent of elderly Latinos had been physically abused and 9 per cent of elderly Latinos said they had been sexually abused in the last year. Of those reporting physical abuse, more than half indicated they had been severely physically assaulted. Elderly Latinos who had been in the United States longer were more likely to be abused or neglected. The researchers hope the findings will bring greater national attention to the issue of community elder abuse in low resource communities. Latino elders make up 6.7 per cent of the US population aged over 65.

Study sheds light on UK preventable deaths

There are almost 12 000 preventable deaths in hospital every year due to problems with care but this is less than a third of the number previously thought, according to new research led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The study, published in BMJ Quality and Safety, found the majority of poor care associated with preventable deaths was the result of poor monitoring of the patient’s condition, wrong diagnosis or errors in medication or fluid replacement. Adverse events occurred in about 13 per cent of adult patients who died in acute hospitals in England. However, the researchers concluded that their subsequent death was due to the adverse event, and therefore preventable, in less than half of these patients (5.2 per cent of all deaths) – equivalent to 11,859 adult preventable deaths in hospitals in England. Current Department of Health and the National Audit Office estimates suggest there are 40,000 preventable deaths each year in England. The new findings are based on the most detailed study of hospital deaths ever conducted in England. The researchers said the principal area of concern was clinical monitoring on the ward.

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