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Stricter staffing guidelines, plain packaging makes smoking less pleasant and unsurprised patients could be having a heart attack

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Tuesday 15 July.

Strict guidelines on minimum staffing numbers of hospitals have been introduced, though plans stop short of setting an absolute lower limit for nurse numbers, the BBC reports.

The new NICE guidance indicates that if staffing drops below one nurse per eight patients on a ward, this should trigger an investigation to ensure care isn’t being compromised, it also introduces new ‘red flag’ events that should prompt further scrutiny.

Prof Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of Nice, said: ‘Safe staffing is more complex than setting a single ratio. The emphasis should not just be on the available number of staff, it should be on delivering safe patient care [and best practice to do it].’

Long-term smokers in Australia have said that plain packaged cigarettes taste worse than their branded counterparts in intriguing new research for UK debate on its effectiveness as a deterrent.

A small scale study, reported in The Guardian, shows that a sample of 51 smokers who were studied, also said they now believed all cigarettes taste the same, regardless of brand.

PhD candidate Ashleigh Guillaumier explained: ‘It’s one of the main reasons that the tobacco industry fought so hard against the introduction of plain packs, they have spent a lot of time building up their branding and know how influential it is on people’s perceptions and experience of the product.’

And finally, the Daily Mail has some ‘unsurprising’ news, that patients attending A&E who are unable to register shock could be in the middle of a heart attack or stroke, research has suggested.

In a study of 50 adults attending A&E with shortness of breath and chest pains, the patients’ reactions to facial expressions designed to prompt a response were recorded using Facial Action Coding Systems.

It found that 16% of patients went on to develop a serious heart condition, and later evaluation of their FACS response showed reduced movement.

Dr Jeffrey Kline at the Department of Emergency Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine said: ‘The ultimate goal of this work is to provide clinicians with a new physical finding that can be associated with a healthy state to avoid unnecessary scanning, which could be added to the physical examination.’

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