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Medical board could discipline physicians for torture under N.Y. bill

A New York bill that is the first of its kind in the nation would make participation in torture or interrogation of prisoners grounds for board discipline of physicians and other health professionals. Dozens of medical students and other health professionals in training lobbied in favor of the legislation in late May, meeting with nearly 40 New York state legislators, said Allen Keller, MD. He helped organize the lobbying trip and directs the Bellevue Hospital Center/New York University Program for Survivors of Torture in New York City. The bill, which was introduced in March by Democratic Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried and has 39 co-sponsors, would give the state medical board and other health professional licensing boards the explicit authority to suspend or revoke practice rights based on evidence presented in accordance with the state's usual due-process procedures. Under the bill, physicians and other health professionals would be barred from directly participating in t ...

CDC stresses need for flu shot every year

Although this year's seasonal influenza vaccine will be identical to the one administered in the 2010-11 season, physicians still should provide the vaccine to patients who are 6 months and older, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recommendation is in response to comments by some health experts that young, healthy people who received the 2010-11 flu immunization might not need it this year. They say that such patients already could have sufficient immunity to the three widely circulating influenza viruses included in the vaccine. The CDC disagrees vehemently with that position. "We know that, over time, immunity wanes. For someone to be fully protected against influenza, they have to be vaccinated each and every flu season," said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner. "While the [seasonal influenza] vaccine is not changing, you still have to get the vaccine to be fully protected." The 2011-12 seasonal flu vaccine will contain the pandemic 2009 influenza A(H1N1)-l ...

Surgical liability cases drop nearly 80% at Texas medical center

Texas trauma surgeon Basil Pruitt Jr., MD, was confident the state's tort reform measures had reduced lawsuits at the medical center where he practices. But he and fellow physicians were shocked when they learned by how much. A study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found a nearly 80% decrease in surgical liability lawsuits at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio since tort reform was enacted in 2003. That year, the Texas Legislature passed a comprehensive package of tort reforms that included a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in most medical negligence cases. The lack of lawsuits led to a dramatic drop in legal costs at the center, the study showed. "It confirmed our hypothesis that [tort reform] was important, but the magnitude of the decrease was quite striking," said Dr. Pruitt, one of the study's co-authors. Researchers studied pre-tort reform surgery data at the medical center from 1992 to 2004 ...