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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Today's Globe: doctors and drug companies, hospital earnings, volunteers, VA clinic problems, smoking and attention

Amid disclosures that the pharmaceutical industry has funneled millions of dollars to leading physicians, the Food and Drug Administration yesterday moved to bar scientists from serving as advisers to the agency if they have financial ties to drug and medical-device companies exceeding $50,000.

Massachusetts hospitals collectively earned more than $1 billion in profits during the 2006 fiscal year, a 10 percent increase from 2005 and almost double the hospitals' 2004 profits, according to an analysis of publicly released financial data by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the state's largest nurses union.

The volunteer program at South Shore Hospital, with more than 550 volunteers who help enhance patient service, has earned respect beyond its walls.

The Veterans Affairs Department's vast network of 1,400 health clinics and hospitals is beset by maintenance problems such as mold, leaking roofs, and even a colony of bats, an internal review says.

Smoking during pregnancy is known to boost the risk of attention problems in children, but a study published yesterday suggests that teens who smoke and were also exposed to nicotine in the womb are even more impaired.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:21 AM
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