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U.S. pedestrian deaths from car crashes surge

By Lisa Rapaport (Reuters Health) – Pedestrian deaths from car crashes surged the most in at least four decades last year and now account for about 15% of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents, a U.S. report suggests. Nationally, pedestrian deaths rose 10% in 2015 from the previous year, researchers estimated based on data supplied by states for January through June. “We are projecting the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since national records have been kept, and therefore we are quite alarmed,” said study co-author Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Consulting, referring to a fatality reporting system established in 1975.

Hospitals to pay U.S. $28 million to settle false spinal treatment claims

A group of 32 hospitals will pay a total of $28 million to settle allegations that they submitted false claims to Medicare for a type of spinal fracture treatment, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday. The hospitals, located in 15 states, frequently billed Medicare for inpatient stays following a procedure known as kyphoplasty, a treatment for certain spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis, the Justice Department said. Hospitals that agreed to some of the largest penalties in the settlement include Citrus Memorial Health System in Inverness, Florida ($2.6 million), Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, Florida ($2 million), and the Ohio-based Cleveland Clinic ($1.74 million).

Alberta plans hefty spending to revive battered economy

By Nia Williams and Mike De Souza CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Alberta will post a C$6.1 billion ($4.6 billion) deficit this fiscal year and borrow heavily to fund infrastructure in a bid to revive an economy hammered by low oil prices, its left-leaning New Democratic government said on Tuesday. Alberta, whose oil sands are the largest source of U.S. crude imports, will continue to run deficits until 2019/20 and will spend C$38 billion on a capital plan investing in infrastructure, as well as health and education projects over the next five years. It estimates total debt will increase to C$36.6 billion, 10 percent of Alberta’s nominal gross domestic product, by fiscal 2017/18.

South Korea reports 14 more MERS cases, fifth death

South Korean health officials on Sunday reported 14 more cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, bringing the total in the country’s outbreak to 64, and said a fifth person infected with the virus had died. South Korea’s outbreak of the often-deadly MERS virus, first reported on May 20, is the largest outside the Middle East, prompting public fear and questions over the government’s initial response. The patient who died was a 75-year-old man who had been in the same Seoul hospital emergency room where a total of 17 people, including two medical staff, are believed to have been infected with MERS, South Korea’s health ministry said.