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Physicians can help curb teen smoking

Physicians who talk with teenage patients about the dangers of smoking can have a significant influence on their attitudes about tobacco use, according to a study in the June issue of Pediatrics. Adolescents whose doctors broach the subject become more knowledgeable about the ill health effects of smoking. Smokers who have such conversations with doctors are less inclined to see themselves still smoking after five years and are more likely to plan to try to quit within six months. Even so, about 57% of surveyed teenagers said their doctors had never offered advice on tobacco use, the study said. "Our results showed that less than half of the students in our study had conversations with their physicians about smoking, and that is really a concern," said Leslie A. Robinson, PhD, a study co-author, associate professor and director of clinical training in the department of psychology at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. "We're hoping [the study] will really encourage more pe ...

Pennsylvania liability lawsuits down for 6th straight year

Medical liability lawsuits in Pennsylvania decreased in 2010 for the sixth consecutive year, a trend officials say is associated with rules created by the state in 2002 to reduce frivolous lawsuits. In 2010, 1,491 medical liability lawsuits were filed in the state, a drop of about 45 from 2009, according to data released online May 18 by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Since 2002, filings of such lawsuits in the state have declined by more than 45%. Philadelphia, which handles the largest court caseload in the state, experienced a nearly 70% decrease. "Pennsylvania's judiciary collaboratively addressed a complex medical malpractice litigation crisis, and the latest figures show the progress made in the last seven years," Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said in a statement. "One of our fundamental priorities is to assure the Commonwealth's citizens that the legal process will not be abused in malpractice cases. We're very encouraged by ...

HHS makes preexisting condition coverage more accessible

Washington -- The Dept. of Health and Human Services is trying to increase enrollment in a temporary insurance program for people with preexisting medical conditions by reducing premiums and easing application requirements. HHS announced on May 31 that an applicant for the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan will be able to qualify in part by submitting a letter from a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner stating that the patient has or has had a preexisting medical condition, disability or illness. The department previously had required PCIP applicants to submit a letter of denial from a health plan before qualifying. HHS runs the special plan in 23 states and the District of Columbia. The other 27 states run their own federally funded PCIPs. HHS also is lowering plan premiums by up to 40% in 18 states and notifying other states that they can enact similar premium reductions. The application and premium changes will take effect on July 1. "Reducing premium ...