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Health Highlights: Aug. 25, 2016

No Hospital Bills for Pulse Nightclub Shooting Survivors Researchers Jump-Start Coma Patient's Brain Historic Face Transplant Transforms Firefighter's Life Spiked Heroin Suspected in Rash of Overdoses in Indiana and Ohio More Nurses in Hospitals Mean Less Restraint Use: Study CDC Provides $6.8 Million More to Fight Zika

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

No Hospital Bills for Pulse Nightclub Shooting Survivors

The survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida will not have to pay for their hospital care.

One hospital said it would not bill for any treatment provided to the victims, and Orlando Regional Medical Center said it would seek payment from other sources, such as insurance plans and a victims fund established by city officials, the Washington Post reported.

"Total unreimbursed costs" could be more than $5 million, authorities say.

"Orlando Health has not sent any hospital or medical bills directly to Pulse patients and we don't intend to pursue reimbursement of medical costs from them," according to a statement from Orlando Health.

It's the nonprofit health-care network that operates Orlando Regional, where most of the shooting victims were treated, the Post reported.


Researchers Jump-Start Coma Patient's Brain

Sonic stimulation may have "jump-started" a coma patient's brain, researchers say.

The 25-year-old patient regained full consciousness and the ability to communicate within days of the treatment, according to a study in the journal Brain Stimulation, United Press International reported.

The doctors used a small, experimental device to deliver a small amount of acoustic energy at a part of the brain called the thalamus. Previous research has suggested stimulating the thalamus could benefit patients with major brain injury and coma.

While the treatment appeared to work in this case, the researchers are cautious about its potential for success on a regular basis, UPI reported.

"It is possible that we were just very lucky and happened to have stimulated the patient just as he was spontaneously recovering," Dr. Martin Monti, associate professor of psychology and neurosurgery, University of California, Los Angeles, said in a news release.


Historic Face Transplant Transforms Firefighter's Life

A face transplant last year transformed the life of a firefighter who suffered extensive facial burns while responding to a house fire in 2001.

Patrick Hardison, 42, lost his eyelids, ears, lips, hair and most of nose, and used sunglasses and baseball caps to cover his scars. But last year, the volunteer firefighter from Senatobia, Mississippi underwent the most extensive soft tissue face transplant ever performed, CNN reported.

The surgery changed his life. He can now swim in a pool, blink his eyes, run his fingers through his hair, and walk in crowds without people staring and pointing at him, or children being frightened by his face.

"After my accident, my life was really hard. I hated life," he said at a news conference Wednesday, CNN reported.

"I'm here today because I want others to see that there is hope beyond the injury. I'm especially proud to share my story with other injured firefighters, first responders and U.S. military. If sharing my story helps just one person explore the possibility of face transplants, then it's worth it. ... I have hope now, and I want to help those that are injured know that there is hope for them, too," Hardison said.

The 12-hour transplant surgery was performed by a team of more than 100 surgeons and medical professionals at New York University Langone Medical Center. Hardison has had four follow-up procedures, but is not scheduled for any more. However, the medical team will continue to monitor him for the next 12 months, CNN reported.


Spiked Heroin Suspected in Rash of Overdoses in Indiana and Ohio

Spiked heroin is suspected of causing more than 75 overdoses in Indiana and Ohio since last Friday.

There were more than 30 overdoses in Cincinnati last weekend, with 33 more overdoses-- including one death-- in the city since Tuesday. Authorities responded to 14 overdoses -- including one death -- late Tuesday and early Wednesday in Jennings County, Ind., USA Today reported.

Officials are trying to determine if a specific batch of heroin was tainted or cut with something that caused the overdoses.

Authorities suspect the heroin was laced with fentanyl, a powerful painkiller used to treat patients recovering after surgery, USA Today reported. Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.


More Nurses in Hospitals Mean Less Restraint Use: Study

Hospital patient are less likely to be placed in restraints -- such as belts or specially fitted beds or chairs -- when more nurses are on duty, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed 2006-10 data on more than 923,000 patients at 869 hospital in the United States and found that restraints were used on 1.6 percent of patients. In 51 percent of those cases, the restraints were used to prevent patients from falling, United Press International reported.

During the study period, the use of restraints fell by about 50 percent, according to the study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

It also found that when there were few or very few registered nurses on duty, overall restraint use was 11 percent and 18 percent higher, respectively, and the use of restraints to prevent falls was 9 percent and 16 percent higher, respectively, UPI reported.


CDC Provides $6.8 Million More to Fight Zika

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention is giving $6.8 million more to help public health partners nationwide respond to the threat posed by the Zika virus.

The money will be used by the recipients "to assist state, tribal, local, and territorial jurisdictions with their Zika responses in a wide range of activities, including surveillance and epidemiology, vector control, communication and outreach to pregnant women and vulnerable populations, and planning with key stakeholders," a CDC news release said.

The funding announced Wednesday will go to the: American Public Health Association, Asian & Pacific Islanders American Health Forum, March of Dimes Foundation, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Association of County and City Health Officials, National Indian Health Board, National Network of Public Health Institutes, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, American College of Preventive Medicine, and the Task Force for Global Health.

The new funding is in addition to the $1.6 million already handed out by the CDC to national public health partners for Zika response efforts.

So far, the CDC has given more than $100 million to cities, states and territories to fight Zika.

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