Graphic Anti-Smoking Ads Can Backfire on Kids

THURSDAY, Dec. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Graphic anti-tobacco posters intended to deter young people from buying cigarettes might actually have the opposite effect.

New research suggests that the strategy of hanging these posters in convenience stores could backfire, prompting some teens to light up.

The tobacco industry focuses much of its advertising efforts on convenience stores, which are popular with young people. Cigarette displays, other tobacco products and signs are usually placed on the wall behind the checkout counter.

Some states have tried to counter these promotional displays with graphic posters depicting the effects of smoking-related diseases.

For the study, researchers from the Rand Corporation created a replica of a convenience store to assess how teens responded to the disturbing images. The tobacco wall included a photo of a diseased mouth and the words “Warning: Cigarettes cause cancer.”

Overall, 441 adolescents, 11 to 17 years old, were questioned about their views on smoking before and after they shopped in the fake store. About 5 percent of the participants had smoked before, and about 20 percent were considered at-risk for future cigarette smoking when the study began because they weren’t entirely against the habit.

Some of the young people who shopped in the store were actually more tempted to smoke afterwards, the study found. This occurred among those who’d admitted originally that they thought about smoking — not those who’d been sure they’d never light up.

“Our findings are counterintuitive and suggest that some anti-smoking strategies may actually go too far,” said the study’s lead author, William Shadel, a senior behavioral scientist at Rand.

“It is possible that at-risk adolescents responded to the graphic warning posters in a defensive manner, causing them to discount or downplay the health risks portrayed in the poster,” he suggested in an institution news release.

“It may also be possible that the graphic posters caused adolescents to divert their attention to the tobacco power wall, where they were exposed to pro-tobacco messages,” Shadel added.

Whatever the cause, “our findings do suggest that policymakers should be careful when considering graphic warning posters as part of anti-tobacco education in retail environments,” Shadel said. “This type of action either needs additional research or potentially should be abandoned in favor of better-demonstrated anti-smoking efforts.”

The study was published online Dec. 13 in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

The Rand Corporation is a nonprofit institution that works to help improve policy and decision making through research and analysis. It focuses on issues such as health, education and the environment.

Race, Age Bias Common in U.S. Medical Care: Survey

THURSDAY, Dec. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Nearly 20 percent of older people who’ve sought care for chronic illness say they experienced discrimination in the U.S. health system, a new study reports.

Racial discrimination was the most common kind, but the study also revealed discrimination based on ancestry, gender, age, religion, weight or physical appearance, physical disability, sexual orientation and financial status.

“If people believe they have received unfair treatment in the health care setting, that experience could negatively affect their experience with their providers, their willingness to go to their providers, and their adherence with their treatment, and thereby affect their health,” said the study’s first author, Thu Nguyen. She is a researcher at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

“It’s still very common, and there’s a long way to go,” Nguyen said in a UCSF news release.

For the study, the researchers looked specifically at reports of discrimination people experienced between 2008 and 2014. The reports came from a national survey of nearly 14,000 people aged 54 and older. All had a chronic disease, such as diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure.

People in all of the groups analyzed — including blacks, whites and Hispanics — said they had experienced discrimination.

Discrimination in health care has been linked to poor health and less use of health care services, according to the researchers.

The findings showed that discrimination reported by black patients declined over the six-year study period.

In 2008, when the survey began, 27 percent of black respondents reported discrimination. About 48 percent reported that it was based on race or ancestry, 29 percent reported age discrimination, and 20 percent reported discrimination based on income.

By 2014, however, the number of black survey participants reporting discrimination had fallen to 20 percent, about the same level as among whites. The researchers said they didn’t know why this drop happened. Levels of discrimination among whites and Hispanics did not change significantly during that time period.

Among white survey participants, the most common reasons for reported discrimination were age (29 percent), weight or physical appearance (16 percent), gender (10 percent) and income (10 percent).

The most common type of discrimination reported by Hispanic participants was age (27 percent), followed by race or ancestry (23 percent), weight or physical appearance (14 percent) and income (14 percent).

The investigators also found that wealthier whites reported less discrimination, while wealthier blacks reported more.

The study’s senior author, Amani Nuru-Jeter, said, “This finding is useful for continued efforts to improve health care experiences and suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice.” She’s an associate professor of epidemiology and community health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Providers should be aware that a large fraction of patients will have experienced some form of discrimination in a health care setting,” Nuru-Jeter noted. “Just by recognizing how common these experiences are for patients, clinicians may be able to offer better care.”

The study was published Dec. 14 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Zika Babies Facing Increasing Health Problems with Age

THURSDAY, Dec. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Most children born with brain abnormalities caused by the Zika virus are facing severe health and developmental challenges at 2 years of age, a new study suggests.

These problems may include seizures, an inability to sit independently as well as problems with sleep, feeding, hearing and vision, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Their findings come from a study of 19 Zika-infected children in Brazil, the epicenter of a Zika outbreak that began in 2015.

Most of the children were found to have problems in multiple areas as a result of prenatal exposure to the mosquito-borne virus, the researchers reported.

“Children severely affected by Zika virus are falling far behind age-appropriate developmental milestones, and their challenges are becoming more evident as they age,” CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said in an agency news release.

All children exposed to Zika in the womb need continued monitoring to understand the full impact of the infection during pregnancy, Fitzgerald said.

Zika exposure during pregnancy can cause fetuses to develop microcephaly — an unusually small head for their age.

The virus affected thousands of children born in northern Brazil in 2015-2016. Microcephaly was the most devastating outcome, and scientists are only now learning what its long-term ramifications might be.

All 19 children in the study had microcephaly and confirmed Zika exposure. In their report, the CDC researchers and scientists at the Ministry of Health of Brazil documented complications the children experienced when they were 19 to 24 months old:

  • Eleven suffered seizures.
  • More than half had sleep problems.
  • Nine had feeding difficulties, such as trouble swallowing.
  • Hearing was a problem for 13 kids, with some unable to react to the sound of a rattle.
  • Eleven had vision problems.
  • Fifteen had severe motor impairments.

Complicating their care, 14 of the children had at least three of these challenges. Eight had been hospitalized, most often for bronchitis or pneumonia.

“As children born affected by Zika virus grow up, they will need specialized care from many types of health care providers and caregivers,” said Dr. Georgina Peacock, director of the CDC’s Division of Human Development and Disability.

“It’s important that we use these findings to start planning now for their long-term care and stay vigilant in Zika prevention efforts in the United States and around the world,” she said in the news release.

The findings are published in the Dec. 15 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Insights into Pain Relief from the Family That Can’t Feel Pain

THURSDAY, Dec. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Six members of a family in Italy live a strangely pain-free life, and scientists want to know why.

The Marsili clan “can burn themselves or experience pain-free bone fractures without feeling any pain,” explained study lead researcher Dr. James Cox of University College London.

The family can’t even feel the burn from hot chili peppers.

It’s not that the Marsilis lack the nerves responsible for sensing and transmitting pain, the researchers noted.

“They have a normal intraepidermal nerve fiber density, which means their nerves are all there, they’re just not working how they should be,” said Cox, who works at the university’s Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research.

His team hopes that insights into the family that doesn’t feel pain could help people who feel far too much of it.

Moderate to severe chronic pain affects an estimated 10 percent of people, the study authors explained. It’s often difficult to treat, and people may turn to dangerously addictive opioid painkillers for help.

Cox and his colleagues believe they might develop newer, safer drugs by understanding why some people — the Marsilis, for example — can tolerate pain better than others.

“We’re working to gain a better understanding of exactly why [this family doesn’t] feel much pain, to see if that could help us find new pain-relief treatments,” Cox said in a university news release.

The investigators said they’ve already identified the rare genetic mutation that’s responsible for the family members’ pain-free state.

For the new study, the researchers examined the genomes of affected family members, and spotted a mutation in a key gene. They then studied the effects of the gene by breeding mice without it.

As expected, mice with the altered DNA appeared insensitive to high heat, the researchers reported Dec. 13 in the journal Brain.

The mouse study suggests that the mutant gene the Marsili family members carry affects other DNA linked to pain signaling.

According to study co-author Anna Maria Aloisi, of the University of Siena in Italy, “By identifying this mutation and clarifying that it contributes to the family’s pain insensitivity, we have opened up a whole new route to drug discovery for pain relief.” She was part of the team that initially identified the Marsili family’s condition.

“With more research to understand exactly how the mutation impacts pain sensitivity, and to see what other genes might be involved, we could identify novel targets for drug development,” Aloisi added.

More Teens Vaping as Smoking Declines; Pot Use Holds Steady
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THURSDAY, Dec. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) — While fewer American teens are lighting up cigarettes, more of them are vaping instead, a new report shows.

At the same time, marijuana use has held steady as it remains more popular than cigarettes and, in a piece of good news, misuse of opioid painkillers like OxyContin has actually dropped among adolescents.

In 2017, more than 1 in 4 high school seniors said they’ve vaped during the past year — and most apparently don’t know they’re toying with a potentially addictive product.

Nearly 28 percent of 12th graders reported trying an e-cigarette or other vaping device in 2016, according to results from the 2017 Monitoring the Future survey, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

But when asked what they’d inhaled while vaping, about 52 percent of high school seniors responded “just flavoring.” Only 33 percent said they’d inhaled vapor that contains nicotine.

“They don’t even realize that what they’re using is a tobacco product,” said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of the American Lung Association.

E-cigarettes contain fewer harmful chemicals than traditional tobacco products, and might prove useful in helping adults quit smoking, said NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Wilson Compton.

But “that’s a very different story when you’re talking about youths who may not have used any other tobacco product,” Compton pointed out. “Instead of this being a tradeoff, this could be an entree into what we know can be a lifelong, extraordinarily harmful habit. Kids that start with vaping do transition to smoked tobacco more often than those who’ve never used e-cigarettes.”

Sward said the survey results “really underscore why aggressive action from the [U.S.] Food and Drug Administration is required” regarding regulation of e-cigarettes.

But the FDA announced in July that it would delay its review of vaping products that are already on the market for another five years, Sward noted.

“That delay of five years really locks in all of the products that are currently on the market that have flavorings and appeal to children,” Sward said. “[The] FDA’s decision to delay true oversight is going to have significant consequences.”

The survey had more positive news when it came to teen smoking and prescription painkiller abuse.

Just over 4 percent of high school seniors reported smoking cigarettes on a daily basis, down more than 24 percent from 1997, the survey showed.

The decrease in teen cigarette smoking is “a remarkable public health story over the last 20 years. In a single generation, we’ve had just a huge impact,” Compton said.

However, more 12th graders now report daily marijuana use (almost 6 percent) than tobacco smoking, the survey found.

But teens are dipping into prescription pain medications much less often. Past-year misuse declined to just over 4 percent, down from a peak of 9.5 percent in 2004.

The decrease in painkiller abuse likely is tied to the overall response to America’s opioid crisis, Compton said. Fewer opioid prescriptions are being written in an effort to stem the tide of abuse that has claimed thousands of lives, and that means there are fewer pills available for misuse.

There’s evidence in the survey to support this theory. Only 36 percent of high school seniors said these drugs are easily available, compared to more than 54 percent in 2010.

Marijuana use is about the same as it was in 2015, with around 24 percent of teenagers trying pot at least once within the past year, the survey revealed.

This may not seem like a win, but it actually is, Compton said. There’s been no increase in teens using pot, even though marijuana legalization is spreading state-by-state across the nation.

“Despite very permissive attitudes by youth and a lack of concern about the harms of marijuana, the rates really haven’t gone up,” Compton said. “The fact they haven’t gone up is a bit of a surprise for most of us.”

There’s also been a leveling off in binge drinking — having five or more drinks in a row within the past two weeks, the survey showed.

Overall, more than 43,700 students participated in this year’s survey, which since 1975 has measured how teens report their drug, alcohol and cigarette use.

Four Seasons Health Care gains breathing space
Elderly careImage copyrightGetty Images

Care home company Four Seasons Health Care has won a reprieve on a major debt repayment which threatened the future of the firm.

The group, which looks after 17,000 elderly and vulnerable residents, had been due to make an interest payment of £26m by Friday.

However, Four Seasons has only £24.8m in cash and is £540.2m in debt.

It said the delay “ensures continuity of care for Four Seasons’ residents” and stability for its employees.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the UK’s health watchdog, had been forced to step in to ensure that Four Seasons reached an agreement with its biggest creditor, the US fund manager H/2 Capital Partners.

Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: “The Care Quality Commission has been consistently clear that people using any adult social care service, their families and carers, should be able to expect that the service will provide good quality care which can be sustained into the future”.

Ms Sutcliffe added: “Through our market oversight function, we will continue to closely track progress with the ongoing restructuring discussions until such time that they are satisfactorily concluded. Our market oversight regulatory responsibility is to advise local authorities if we believe that services are likely to be disrupted as a result of business failure.

“I would like to confirm at this point in time we do not believe that services are likely to be disrupted as a result of business failure.”


Four Seasons, which employs more than 25,000 people, said it aims to agree a restructuring plan 7 February next year and gain approval for the strategy by 2 April.

The care home was bought by the private equity firm Terra Firma in 2012 for £825m, the majority of which was made up of bond debt which carries regular interest payments.

H/2 Capital Partners then acquired the debt and Terra Firma subsequently offered to hand over the keys of the business to the firm.

Robbie Barr, chairman of Four Seasons, said the company is “very pleased to have reached a standstill agreement with H/2”.

He said: “The standstill gives a period of stability for the company and its stakeholders but most importantly for our residents, patients, their families and our employees.”

Analysis, Alison Holt, Social Affairs correspondent

At the heart of this business deal are the 17,000 vulnerable, older and disabled people who rely on the 24-hour-a-day support provided by Four Seasons’ staff, whether it is helping them eat, wash or simply taking the time to talk. As lawyers and financial experts pored over the details of this deal into the early hours, they were negotiating over the future of those people’s homes.

This deal provides certainty in the run-up to Christmas, but it is a first step in what will have to be a major restructuring. The main creditor, H/2 Capital Partners, has investments in senior living or similar nursing homes in the US. I’m told they’ve not had a single foreclosure or bankruptcy and are determined to put Four Seasons on a more stable financial footing.

But even without crippling interest payments, Four Seasons is operating in an extremely tough care market. Most of its residents are publicly funded, council budgets are squeezed and staff costs rising. For many in the care sector, Four Seasons’ difficulties are worryingly familiar.

Joe Biden comforts John McCain’s daughter over cancer
Former US Vice-President Joe Biden awards US Senator John McCain the 2017 Liberty Medal in Philadelphia, USA, in October 2017Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Mr Biden says he is a long-time friend of Mr McCain despite the political divide

Former US Vice-President Joe Biden has offered comfort and advice to Meghan McCain over the health of her father, US Republican Senator John McCain, during a TV talk show.

Mr Biden’s son died of the same type of brain cancer afflicting Mr McCain.

A tearful Ms McCain, who co-hosts ABC’s programme The View, asked Mr Biden for his advice on how to deal with the disease.

Mr McCain was diagnosed in the summer with glioblastoma.

It is an aggressive type of brain cancer.

Skip Twitter post by @TheView

In an emotional moment, Joe Biden consoles Meghan McCain, whose father was diagnosed with the same cancer as Biden’s late son Beau: “There is hope. And if anybody can make it, your dad [can].”

— The View (@TheView) December 14, 2017

End of Twitter post by @TheView

“Your son Beau had the same cancer that my father was diagnosed with six months ago,” Ms McCain said.

“I think about Beau almost every day and I was told that it doesn’t get easier but that you cultivate the tools to work with this and live with this.

“I know you and your family have been through tragedy I couldn’t conceive of.”

Mr Biden said there was hope and that breakthroughs in the treatment of the disease were happening all the time.

He said Mr McCain was one of his best friends, and that “if anybody can make it, your dad [can]”.

“Her dad goes after me, hammer and tong. We’re like two brothers who were somehow raised by different fathers or something, because of our points of view.”

But he added: “I know if I picked up the phone tonight and called John McCain, he’d get on a plane and come, and I would for him, too.”

He said the key was to “maintain hope”.

What is glioblastoma?

  • It is a highly aggressive form of tumour which starts in the brain or spinal cord
  • Common symptoms include: severe, persistent headaches; seizures (fits); nausea, vomiting and drowsiness; mental or behavioural changes such as memory problems or changes in personality; progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, vision problems or speech problems
  • Treatment: Surgery will usually need to be carried out to remove as much of the tumour as possible. This may be followed by radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to kill any cancerous cells left behind and reduce the chances of the tumour re-growing
  • The average survival time is 12-18 months, but it can be longer for a less aggressive type of tumour
  • The American Brain Tumor Association (Abta) estimates there will be more than 12,000 cases before the end of 2017 in the US

Sources: NHS, Abta

The show of support elicited a number of reactions on Twitter, including people saluting the cross-partisan aspect of the encounter.

Skip Twitter post by @TheCurvyCritic

This isn’t about being a Democrat or a Republican…it’s about being human!!! Oh how I wish this humanity existed amongst all people 24/7😔 #humanityfirst

— Carla Renata (@TheCurvyCritic) December 13, 2017

End of Twitter post by @TheCurvyCritic

Skip Twitter post by @craasch

Partisanship should not equal lack of compassion or understanding or the will to reach out.

— Chuck Raasch (@craasch) December 13, 2017

End of Twitter post by @craasch

Mr Biden published a memoir last month about his son, who died of the disease in 2015.

Mr McCain’s tumour was discovered during a surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye in July.

Image copyrightAFP
Image caption Mr McCain was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, but hopes “to return to work soon”

On Wednesday, he was admitted to a Washington DC hospital for “normal side effects” of his cancer treatments, his office said in a statement.

He has no plan to resign, reports say, and he hopes to return to work “as soon as possible”, the office said.

A Vietnam veteran, Mr McCain, 81, spent more than five years as a prisoner of war.

The six-term senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate underwent surgery at a clinic in Phoenix, in the state of Arizona in July.

Family Meals Serve Up Better Behaved Kids
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THURSDAY, Dec. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Children whose families regularly eat meals together tend to have better social skills and fitness levels, researchers report.

Family meals yield multiple physical and mental health benefits, according to the long-term Canadian study.

“The presence of parents during mealtimes likely provides young children with firsthand social interaction, discussions of social issues and day-to-day concerns,” explained study author Linda Pagani.

At the family table, kids are learning prosocial interactions in a familiar and emotionally secure setting, added Pagani, a professor of pyschoeducation at the University of Montreal.

“Experiencing positive forms of communication may likely help the child engage in better communication skills with people outside of the family unit,” she said in a university news release.

The researchers used data from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, which followed children from the age of 5 months. The kids were born in 1997 and 1998, and parents started reporting on family meals at age 6. At age 10, information on the children’s lifestyle habits and their well-being was provided by parents, teachers and the youngsters themselves.

Compared to children who did not have regular family meals at age 6, those who did had higher levels of fitness, lower soft-drink consumption and more social skills at age 10, the researchers found.

They also were less likely to have behavioral problems.

“Our findings suggest that family meals are not solely markers of home environment quality, but are also easy targets for parent education about improving children’s well-being,” Pagani said.

The study was published Dec. 14 in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Your Pets Can’t Put Your Aging on ‘Paws’
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THURSDAY, Dec. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) — In a finding that’s sure to ruffle some fur and feathers, scientists report that having a pet doesn’t fend off age-related declines in physical or mental health.

“Our results showed that in this sample of almost 9,000 people — average age 67 years — for those who owned a pet, no health benefits were found,” said study co-author Richard Watt, a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London.

The British researchers pointed out that some studies have suggested that pets can improve psychological health, perhaps by easing loneliness or providing companionship. Other research has hinted at health benefits such as weight regulation and improved heart health, possibly from having to walk a dog or stress relief from petting a cat.

But the authors of the new study noted that there can be a downside to pet ownership, too: People can feel significant grief and distress after the loss of a beloved pet.

To get a better idea of exactly how much a pet can affect human health and well-being, the researchers recruited the large group of British seniors, 55 percent of whom were women.

One-third of the group had a pet — 18 percent had a dog, 12 percent had a cat and 3 percent had another pet.

About two years later, the seniors underwent various checks of physical and mental health.

Comparing those who had pets with those who didn’t, the researchers found essentially no differences in walking speed, lung function, speed getting out of a chair, grip strength, ability to raise legs or balance. These are all abilities that tend to become harder to do with age.

They also measured three markers of inflammation in the body, and found no differences between the groups.

The study also found no statistically significant differences in memory or depressive symptoms between pet owners and those with no animals. No differences were found between male and female pet owners, either.

But the study did not prove that pets don’t boost health among seniors.

Watt said that people in the United Kingdom consider pets a much-loved part of the family, much the way people in the United States do.

The analysis took into account such things as smoking and level of wealth. The researchers didn’t consider the size of the pet or how long the pet had been owned by the older person — both limitations of the study, Watt said.

Robert Matchock is an associate professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University who has published research on pets and human health. He, too, noted some other potential limitations with the new study.

For example, the study didn’t ask if the participants were the primary caregivers for the animals. It also didn’t ask about participants’ total involvement with the pet or the amount of time someone spent with a pet, he said.

In addition, “the current study did not examine traditionally measured variables associated with pet ownership, such as heart rate, blood pressure or cortisol,” a stress hormone, he said.

“This is an important study, and clearly more research is needed,” Matchock said. “But I wouldn’t discount, quite yet, the social support and unconditional affection that we can obtain from our pets.”

Dr. Aaron Pinkhasov, chairman of behavioral health at NYU Winthrop in Mineola, N.Y., described the research as an interesting article that tried to prove what people feel to be true — that pets are beneficial to their health.

However, there are so many confounding factors that it’s hard to definitively prove a health benefit from pet ownership, he said.

“But, intuitively, it makes sense,” Pinkhasov said. “I give letters for people to have therapeutic dogs all the time — they’re a source of joy and stimulation. But to go as far as to say the dog would help prevent a heart attack, I think that might be impossible to pinpoint.”

As Watt said: “As always with research, our study raises more questions than answers. More interventional research is needed to assess the potential effects of pet ownership.”

In the meantime, however, he said that, “as a dog owner, I am very happy with my loving companion.”

The findings were published in the Christmas issue of BMJ.

NHS in England told to reveal avoidable deaths data
HospitalImage copyrightThinkstock

The NHS in England is to become the first healthcare system in the world to publish figures on avoidable patient deaths, the health secretary has said.

By the end of 2017, some 170 out of 223 trusts will publish data on deaths they believe could have been prevented.

It is estimated there are up to 9,000 deaths in hospitals each year caused by failings in NHS care.

The Department for Health said it wanted to ensure the NHS learned lessons from every case.

There is no standard definition of an avoidable death and each hospital trust makes its own judgment.

The data released by the organisations will include details of reviews and investigations into deaths, and information on any action taken as a result.

Bereaved relatives

As part of the release from more than three quarters of England’s trusts, families of patients will also be given full explanations over relatives’ deaths.

These explanations, the department says, will be used to support bereaved relatives and carers, and will ensure they are treated with empathy, compassion and respect.

Out of a total of around 240,000 deaths in hospital, the government says there are between 1,200 and 9,000 deaths each year caused by problems with care.

Image copyrightJusticeforLB
Image caption Connor Sparrowhawk had epilepsy and experienced seizures

Two cases highlighted by the government are that of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk and one-year-old William Mead.

In 2013, Connor Sparrowhawk died in the care of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust at Slade House in Oxford. The trust has accepted his death was “entirely preventable”.

Meanwhile, an NHS England report into the death of William Mead said he might have lived if 111 call handlers had realised the seriousness of his condition.

William, from Cornwall, died of blood poisoning after a chest infection.

‘Dignity in death’

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts in England, said it was “right” that patient safety was made a priority.

“It is important this work is carried forward in the spirit of learning and sharing good practice, rather than recriminations,” he said.

Some avoidable deaths are deemed to have occurred among terminally-ill patients who might have lived longer if they had spent their final weeks at home – and Mr Hopson added too many patients were still dying in hospital.

Announcing the roll-out, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said each trust was being asked to use the same methodology to determine whether a death was preventable or not.

But he added the data released could not be used to rank trusts against each other because of different reporting procedures used when mistakes happened.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It’s about hospitals creating a culture which makes it easy for staff on the frontline to say, ‘look, something went wrong; I think it could have had a different outcome and we need to learn from this so it doesn’t happen again’.”