Health Highlights: Oct. 2, 2012

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

Nut Products Recall Expanded

A recall of peanut butter and almond butter by New Mexico-based Sunland Inc. has been expanded to include cashew butters, tahini and blanched and roasted peanut products.

The recall began last month after salmonella illnesses were linked to Trader Joe's Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, the Associated Press reported.

Along with Trader Joe's items, the recall now includes some nut butters and nut products sold at Whole Foods Market, Target, Safeway, Fresh & Easy, Harry and David, Sprouts, Heinen's, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, Giant Food of Landover, Md., and a number of other stores.

Some of those retailers used Sunland ingredients in products they prepared and packaged themselves, the AP reported.

There have been 30 salmonella illnesses in 19 states that can be traced to the Trader Joe's peanut butter, the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control said. No other foods have been linked to salmonella cases, but Sunland recalled other products made on the same equipment as the Trader Joe's product.


Hospitals Face Fines for Readmitted Medicare Patients

Starting Monday, Medicare can fine hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications.

The new power is part of the 2010 health care reform law's push to improve quality and also save taxpayers money, the Associated Press reported.

The government estimates that about two-thirds of hospitals serving Medicare patients -- or about 2,200 facilities -- will have to pay penalties averaging about $125,000 per hospital this coming year.

Later in October, Medicare will begin posting details online and people will be able to see their community hospitals' performance by using the agency's "Hospital Compare" website, the AP reported.

Hospitals have spent well over a year preparing, including finding ways to improve communication with rehabilitation centers and doctors who care for patients after they've been discharged, as well as connecting individually with patients.

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