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Hospital death rates, aspirin, IVF and cancer and the ills of social networking

The health headlines on Friday 28 October.

The Guardian reports that the Department of Health has called for inquiries into high death rates in 36 hospital trusts in England.

The summary hospital mortality index compares the deaths that take place in hospital or within 30 days of discharge to the number that would normally be expected, taking into account factors such as the age and type of illness. Thirty-two hospitals did better than their index rating.

Out of 148 trusts, the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, was the worst performer last year followed by the Isle of Wight, East and North Hertfordshire, Blackpool, Tameside, Medway, York and Basildon and Thurrock.

The Daily Mail is among several papers reporting that taking aspirin regularly aspirin can cut risk of bowel cancer. The Mail says the risk is reduced by 60% for people with a family history of the disease.

In an international study run from Newcastle University, 861 patients with Lynch syndrome, a genetic fault leading to bowel and other cancers at an early age, were given 300mg aspirin twice a day for two years.

Still on the causes of cancer, the Independent and others report that fertility treatment can double the long-term risk of invasive and low-grade ovarian cancers.

Stimulating the ovaries of women undergoing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) increased the chances of patients being diagnosed with ovarian cancer 15 years later, a study of 19,146 subfertile women showed.

Finally, The Daily Telegraph highlights the social networking risk to patient confidentiality – NHS staff sharing information about patients on Facebook.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed there were at least 806 incidents in which NHS employees breached data protection policies between July 2008 and July 2011.

Campaign group Big Brother Watch said in 23 cases, medical staff posted confidential medical information on Facebook, sharing details about a patient’s name, medical condition or discussing their treatment. Their actions led to a total of 102 doctors, nurses and hospital staff being sacked, the Telegraph said.