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Health Highlights: Feb. 28, 2017

Last Updated: February 28, 2017.

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

VA Boosting Efforts to Prevent Opioid Thefts

More drug testing and inspections are being implemented at Veterans Affairs health facilities in an effort to stem growing numbers of opioid thefts and missing prescriptions, a department official said Monday.

The VA says oversight shortfalls mean thousands of doctors, nurses and other employees have not been checked for signs of illicit drug use, the Associated Press reported.

The VA is adding inspectors to monitor drug inventories at 160 medical centers and 1,000 clinics, and computer systems are being upgraded to ensure that all employees subject to drug testing are flagged for monitoring, Carolyn Clancy, a deputy VA undersecretary for health, testified at a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs subcommittee on oversight.

She also said the VA recently held a conference call with hundreds of health clinics to develop improvement action plans, and that the department is also considering more internal audits to ensure hospitals comply with VA policy, the AP reported.

"The use of illegal drugs by VA employees is inconsistent with the special trust placed in such employees who care for veterans," Clancy told the House panel. "We actually need to up our game."

Reported cases of drug loss or theft at federal hospitals rose from 272 in 2009 to 2,926 in 2015, before falling to 2,457 last year, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal hospitals include VA facilities, seven correctional hospitals and about 20 hospitals serving Indian tribes, the AP reported.

Last week, the AP reported that government data showed a significant rise since 2009 in opioid theft and drug loss at the VA.


DNA Tests Show Subway Chicken Sandwiches Short on Chicken

DNA tests of grilled chicken sandwiches from 5 major fast food chains revealed that chicken accounts for half or less of the ingredients in some of them.

The CBC consumer affairs show Marketplace asked scientists to conduct DNA tests of the products. They found that the average chicken DNA content was: 84.9 percent in A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe; 84.9 percent in McDonald's Country Chicken; 86.5 percent in Tim Hortons Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap; 88.5 percent in Wendy's Grilled Chicken Sandwich; 53.6 percent in Subway's oven roasted chicken; and 42.8 percent in Subway's chicken strips.

The majority of the remaining DNA in the Subway chicken products was soy.

In a statement, Subway said it disagrees with the test results, CBC reported.

"Our recipe calls for one per cent or less of soy protein in our chicken products," according to the statement."We will look into this again with our supplier to ensure that the chicken is meeting the high standard we set for all of our menu items and ingredients."

The chicken products included in the testing had a combined total of about 50 ingredients, and each one had an average of 16 ingredients. Many of those ingredients are variants on salt or sugar, according to nutritionist and registered dietitian Christy Brissette.

"People think they're doing themselves a favor and making themselves a healthy choice," when selecting these chicken sandwiches, she told CBC. "But from a sodium perspective you might as well eat a big portion of poutine."

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