Health Highlights: March 10, 2017

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

Rule Change Means Medical Residents Can Work Up to 24 Hours Straight

A rule that allows new medical residents to work up to 24 hours straight was announced Friday by the group that establishes work standards for U.S. medical school graduates.

The decision by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education means that the limit for rookie medical residents is now the same as for advanced residents, the Associated Press reported.

Residents at all levels are still restricted to a maximum 80 hours per week.

Supporter say allowing new medical residents to work up to 24 hours straight will enhance their training, but opponents think it will have the opposite effect, the AP reported.

The move will endanger the health and safety of residents and patients, according to Dr. Samantha Harrington, a first-year resident and a member of the Committee of Interns and Residents, a union group that's against the change.

The American Medical Student Association is also opposed, and president Dr. Kelly Thibert said a 16-hour cap on all residents' work shifts would be a safer way to even the playing field, the AP reported.


VA to Provide Mental Health Care for Previously Excluded Veterans

Urgent mental health care will be offered to U.S. veterans with less-than-honorable discharges, the Department of Veterans Affairs says.

Currently, such discharges can prevent veterans from receiving federal benefits. The VA said the new coverage will be available by June or July, the Associated Press reported.

The coverage is needed to help veterans who are more likely to have mental health distress, according to VA Secretary David Shulkin, who said the vast majority of veterans who commit suicide have not been connected to VA care.

"This is a national emergency that requires bold action," Shulkin said. "Far too many veterans have fallen victim to suicide, roughly 20 every day."

Less than honorable discharges typically occur for misconduct such as violence or use of illegal drugs, the AP reported.


Tests Help Identify Causes of Stillbirth: Study

Two tests are most effective in identifying the cause of stillbirth, a new study says.

It found that an examination of the placenta helped find a cause in about two-thirds of stillbirths, and a fetal autopsy helped in roughly 40 percent of cases. Genetic testing help identify a cause 12 percent of the time, The New York Times reported.

The study was published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"These tests have an impact, and now there's more of a scientific rationale for their use," Dr. Emily Miller, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University who was not involved with the study, told The Times.

Each year, about 26,000 women have a stillbirth, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has long recommended a number of possible tests after stillbirth.

This study is the first nationwide effort to assess the effectiveness of each of those tests, The Times reported.

This is a story from HealthDay, a service of ScoutNews, LLC.