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Doctors learn to talk vaccines
The Wall Street Journal
As pediatricians struggle to confront the emergence of diseases such as measles and pertussis, or whooping cough, many are re-evaluating how best to respond to parents at a time when the culture of medicine has shifted from doctors as patronizing know-it-alls to listeners who engage parents as partners.
Changes at the top of Medicare, Medicaid agency
Big changes are in store later this month at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after Administrator Marilyn Tavenner officially steps down.
Andy Slavitt, CMS' principal deputy administrator and a top spokesman for the dramatically improved Affordable Care Act rollout this year, takes over for Tavenner, the agency said in January. The agency announced Slavitt will be replaced in an acting capacity by Patrick Conway, a doctor who is chief medical officer at CMS.
AAFP joins unified effort on gun violence, physician free speech
About 300 million guns are privately owned in the United States — a nation of about 320 million people. And each year, more than 32,000 people in this country die from firearm-related violence, suicides and accidents. Those numbers — both the highest among industrialized countries — led the AAFP and seven other health professional organizations to join the American Bar Association in a call for policies to reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths in the United States and to protect physicians' free speech rights to discuss gun ownership with patients.
Bills would let doctors help terminally ill patients end their lives
The Wall Street Journal
Janet Colbert of Lakewood, New Jersey, worked as an oncology nurse for more than 20 years, and she said some of her terminally ill patients begged her to help them die. Now Colbert has liver cancer, and she also wants the option to end her life on her own terms.
Colbert's end-of-life options would expand under a bill in the New Jersey Legislature that would allow doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives. Similar legislation is emerging this year in New York and Connecticut.
Viable health information exchange not likely until 2017
By Scott E. Rupp
The results of a new survey show broad insight into the "tentative" progress that health information exchange and true interoperability have made. After polling nearly 2,000 health plan members and patients, 800 independent and employed physicians, 700 hospital executives, 1,200 insurers and 500 health information technology vendor staffers in a span of eight months, analysts have boiled down their findings thusly: "Persistent unpredictability describes the current state of operative HIEs."
Patient safety not improved by cutting resident working hours
Restricting the number of hours medical residents are allowed to be on duty per week does not produce measureable improvements in patient safety, finds a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Surgical residents performed at nearly the same level two years before and two years after the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education instituted its duty hour reforms, which instituted an 80-hour work week for residents with shifts limited to a maximum of 30 hours each.
Are physician practices up-to-date on HIPAA compliance?
Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights is now required to perform periodic HIPAA compliance audits. Phase 1 audits, which focused solely on covered entities, were completed in 2011 and 2012. Phase 2 audits, which will include both covered entities and business associates (e.g., medical billing companies, software vendors), are scheduled to begin at any time and be completed by June of 2015.
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Hospitals that track their performance don't improve healthcare
In recent years, perhaps in response to an uptick in inquiries about hospital performance and its effect on patient outcomes, a number of programs have been developed to help hospitals track how the patients they care for do. The most prominent of these is the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. This system allows hospitals to compare their performance relative to that of other participating hospitals and provides them with detailed descriptions of patient outcomes as adjusted for the patients' risks.
Physicians' attire linked to patient satisfaction rates
What can incent a patient to trust a physician, follow her directions, and remember the interaction with satisfaction? One recent study in The BMJ suggests that a conservative and professional style of dress — complete with the quintessential white coat — is where trust, patient compliance and patient satisfaction begin.
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