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Official says hospital drug shortages to worsen
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CHATTANOOGA (AP) — A pharmacy official at Chattanooga’s public hospital says shortages of drugs at hospitals are going to get worse.
Dustin Smith, the chief operating pharmacist at Erlanger Health System, said many chemotherapy drugs were in short supply last year. This year, many other types of drugs are hard to come by, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Most of the shortages are occurring in frequently used generic forms. Officials said a combination of federal regulations, ingredient supply disruption and consolidations among generic drug manufacturers all affect availability.
At Memorial Health Care System, pharmacy director Sandy Vredeveld said patient safety is a concern as doctors are forced to make drug substitutions because the remedies they relied on are not available.

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KNOXVILLE (AP) — Residential monthly bills for customers using Tennessee Valley Authority power will decrease up to $1 in March.
The federal utility said Monday the fuel cost for next month will be the lowest in almost two years.
Most of the decrease is related to lower sales projections for March and, consequently, lower fuel cost expectations. TVA also said Monday mild January temperatures resulted in lower sales, helping to drive down January fuel expenses.
The federal utility serves 9 million customers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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JOHNSON CITY (AP) — The TBI is investigating allegations of patient abuse at a Johnson City nursing home where five employees were fired.
The Tennessee Department of Health suspended admissions to Appalachian Christian Village on Thursday after federal officials said the home failed to stop and immediately report allegations of the abuse of a dementia patient, according to The Johnson City Press.
Attorney Eric Ebbert, who represents the nursing home, said the facility investigated and reported the incident five days after it was reported to have occurred. Ebbert said nursing home officials also reported it to local law enforcement.
He confirmed three nursing assistants were fired after being accused of repeatedly spraying water onto a sleeping dementia patient to watch her reaction.
Two other nursing assistants were fired for providing false information.
A report by federal surveyors cited by the newspaper states three CNAs who worked the night shift initiated irritating the patient in December, thinking her reactions "would be comical."
The report states the assistants initially used tap water in a syringe that was sprayed onto a light fixture and the ceiling to drip onto the patient. In subsequent visits, the CNAs are accused of using water from ice coolers and a toilet to spray onto exposed areas, such as the patient's face and hands, which surveyors noted cause the patient to awaken and curse and yell at her spouse to stop urinating on her.

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KNOXVILLE (AP) — A federal appeals court will hear arguments in the case of a Tennessee elementary school student who claimed he could not read and discuss Bible passages during recess.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has set arguments for Feb. 29 in the case brought by Samuel and Tina Whitson on behalf of their son, Luke. A jury in Knoxville ruled in favor of Knox County Schools, turning away arguments that the rights of Luke Whitson and other Karns Elementary School students were violated.
The school stopped the practice of allowing Bible study on the school playground during recess in 2004.
The Whitsons were backed in the lawsuit by an Arizona-based Christian legal group called the Alliance Defense Fund.

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SEVIERVILLE (AP) — The Sevier County School System has fired a bus driver after her arrest on a weapon charge.
A news release from Dr. Debra Cline stated the employment of Frieda Rene Widner was terminated Friday for possession of a firearm. Cline pointed out it is illegal to carry a gun on a school bus under state law.
The Mountain Press reported Widner, who is 50, was at Seymour High School where she was driving for a field trip when an employee reported Widner might have a gun.
Widner was booked into the county jail on a charge of carrying a weapon on school property and was released on $1,000 bond. An investigation by the sheriff’s department continues.