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Half of parents misinterpret OTC cough and cold medication labels

The Food and Drug Administration in January 2008 advised parents to avoid giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children younger than 2 because potential overdosing risks outweigh the symptom-relieving benefits. But a new study found that many parents are confused by medication labels that say "infant" or display child-friendly graphics such as pictures of teddy bears. Looking at the front of the package, 86% of 182 caregivers surveyed thought the drugs were appropriate for infants, according to the study, published in the June issue of Pediatrics ( When asked to review the entire package, 51% thought it would be OK to give the medicine to a 13-month-old child with cold symptoms despite a label warning that a doctor should be consulted before using the drug in a child younger than 2. More than 80% of caregivers -- most of whom were mothers -- already were using cough and cold medications for their infa ...

Number of retail clinics shrinking; growth slows as partnerships sought with hospitals

Projections that showed there would be 2,500 retail clinics operating by 2010 are coming up short as the industry has seen more clinic closings than openings in recent months. MinuteClinic, the first and largest retail clinic chain, now owned by CVS, closed 100 of its clinics for the summer, leaving 452. In two years, the number of clinics housed in Wal-Mart dropped from almost 80 to 30. The retail giant recently acknowledged it would not reach the goal it set in 2007: having 400 retail clinics in operation by 2010. Despite high satisfaction among patients who use retail clinics, investors have found the industry is slow to turn a profit. Many clinics were forced to close when they ran out of cash and were unable to shoulder the financial losses. Analysts say the current dip doesn't mean the demise of the industry. But it may indicate it's time to change strategy. Many analysts believe the key to sustainability will be clinics partnering with hospitals that are better prepa ...

Landmark Massachusetts health reforms showing cracks in access, coverage

Health system reform is hitting a few snags in Massachusetts at a time when many policymakers are eyeing the state for clues as to how federal reform efforts could play out. A lawsuit by Boston Medical Center alleges that the state has significantly underfunded the safety net hospital to finance expansions of Massachusetts' 2006 universal coverage initiative. Meanwhile, budget shortfalls threaten coverage for legal immigrants and others insured under the reforms. The BMC lawsuit, filed July 15 in Suffolk Superior Court, accuses the Executive Office of Health and Human Services of illegally cutting the hospital's Medicaid payments and redistributing the money. It also alleges that health officials inappropriately funded new coverage expansions by diverting a portion of money set aside to maintain safety net hospital funding levels during the transition to the universal program. BMC serves the lion's share of the state's Medicaid patients, as well as a significant portion of the ...