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Health Highlights: July 16, 2012

Annual Report Ranks Mass. General as Top Hospital in U.S. FDA Conducted Surveillance Operation Against Scientists Consumers Should Avoid Mexicali Cheese Corp. Products: FDA

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

Annual Report Ranks Mass. General as Top Hospital in U.S.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston knocked off long-time champion Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to take this year's title as top hospital in the United States.

Hopkins was first for 21 consecutive years in the annual rankings by U.S. News and World Report, the Associated Press said.

The first-place ranking is a "tribute to the more than 23,000" staff at MGH, hospital president Dr. Peter Slavin said. The competition was not with other hospitals, but rather with "disease, health care costs, accessibility of services, and social issues," Dr. David Torchiana, chairman of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, said.

MGH is a 950-bed facility that admits about 48,000 patients a year and delivers about 3,600 babies annually. The hospital was founded in 1811, the AP reported.

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FDA Conducted Surveillance Operation Against Scientists

A surveillance operation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collected thousands of e-mails that agency scientists sent privately to members of Congress, journalists, labor officials, lawyers and even President Barack Obama, previously undisclosed government records reveal.

The scientists claimed that flawed review procedures at the FDA had led to the approval of medical imaging devices for mammograms and colonoscopies that exposed patients to dangerous levels of radiation, The New York Times reported.

The documents show that the operation identified 21 FDA employees, Congressional officials, journalists and outside medical researchers who were believed to be collaborating to release negative and "defamatory" information about the FDA.

In defense of the surveillance operation, FDA officials said the computer monitoring targeted five agency scientists suspected of leaking confidential details about the design and safety of medical devices, The Times reported.

In May, the federal government's Office of Special Counsel concluded that the scientists' concerns were valid enough to warrant a full investigation into "a substantial and specific danger to public safety."

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Consumers Should Avoid Mexicali Cheese Corp. Products: FDA

Consumers should not buy or eat any products from the Mexicali Cheese Corp. due to the threat of listeria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

The agency issued the warning after the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes was found in the Woodville, N.Y. company's finished products, which were distributed in the New York City area, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Retailers are being asked to remove any Mexicali cheese products from their shelves. The products are packaged in a rigid 14 oz. plastic tub with the plant number 36-0128 and a code of 071512. The containers have the following product names:

  • Mexicali Queso Fresco Mexicano, Mexican Style Fresh Cheese
  • Acatlan Queso Fresco, Fresh Cheese
  • Mi Quesito Mexicano, Mexican Cheese
  • Quesillo Ecuatoriano, Ecuadorian Style Cheese

Listeria contamination can cause listeriosis, a disease that primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women, the FDA said.

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