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Autism screening for all preschoolers

There isn't enough sound, scientific evidence to justify physicians routinely screening young children for autism, a study published online June 13 in Pediatrics concludes. After evaluating literature on the topic, researchers determined that autism screening programs have not been studied in randomized, controlled trials in a way that other community wide screening programs, such as breast cancer screening, have been examined. Autism screening often involves questionnaires. For example, in the commonly used Social Communication Questionnaire, parents answer yes/no questions that help physicians evaluate whether a child may have autism. Study authors said autism screening tests such as these are not accurate enough to justify a populationwide screening program. "That is, they aren't good enough to accurately detect children who have autism or to accurately detect those who don't," said Jan Willem Gorter, MD, PhD, a study author and an associate professor of pediatrics at McMas ...

Stronger anti-smoking laws could save states millions

Tougher tobacco control laws could reduce smoking-related deaths and save more than $1.3 billion in tobacco-associated health care costs in 27 states without broad smoking bans in place, according to a June study by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The state-by-state analysis looked at the potential public health and economic impact of what the organization considers comprehensive laws that bar smoking in all types of workplaces, restaurants and bars. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have such legislation in place. If the remaining 27 states with weaker or no anti-smoking laws expanded their policies, total smoking-related deaths would drop by 624,000 over time, the ACS study found. Over five years, states could save millions in health care costs to treat smoking-related diseases, including $316.1 million for lung cancer, $875.6 million for heart attacks and $42.8 million for strokes. Another $128.3 million could be saved for treatment of smoking ...

Most physicians don't see PAs as major liability risks

The majority of emergency physicians do not believe physician assistants, when properly supervised, pose a higher risk of medical negligence than other health professionals, says a study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The study, based on a 2009 survey of American College of Emergency Physicians members, found that 67.9% disagreed that PAs are more likely than doctors to cause negligence. The same survey sent to ACEP members in 2004 found comparable results, with 71.6% of doctors saying PAs do not pose increased liability risks. The two surveys were based on 724 responses. The 2009 study showed that 81.8% of doctors disagreed that PAs were more likely than physicians to be sued, a slight decrease from 84.3% in 2004. Few studies have previously examined physicians' perceptions of PAs and their liability risk, said study co-author James Stoehr, a professor with the Midwestern University physician assistant program in Gl ...