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Phone, email service offers tips on drug abuse screening

Primary care physicians who are critical in identifying and treating substance abuse problems now have a new means to help them in that effort from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Doctors often report discomfort in addressing such issues with patients because they have limited training on the subject, said Gaya Dowling, PhD, acting chief of the Science Policy Branch in NIDA's Office of Science Policy and Communications. The institute promotes using science to combat drug abuse and addiction. On April 8, NIDA and the American Society of Addiction Medicine launched a free phone and email service to help primary care physicians implement drug screening in their practices. The service, called the Physician Clinical Support System for Primary Care, offers doctors guidance on what to do if a screen indicates that a patient smokes or uses illegal drugs or prescription medications for nonmedical reasons ( The ...

Obama's deficit plan would cut more slowly than competing ones

Washington -- President Obama's deficit reduction plan would lower the nation's debt by about $4 trillion, just as much as a plan offered by a presidential commission and another approved by the House. But Obama's proposal would not hit that $4 trillion target until 2023, two years after the other proposals, according to an analysis released April 21 by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan policy center in Washington, D.C. Obama's proposal would maintain Medicare's defined benefits, but also strengthen an independent board's ability to reduce federal spending on Medicare and prescription drugs, among other changes. In contrast, the plan proposed April 5 by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R, Wis.) -- and approved by the House on April 14 -- would save $4.02 trillion over a decade. It would repeal the national health reform law, cap federal spending on Medicaid and turn Medicare into a voucher program to help seniors buy private insurance. The pr ...

ACOG's message to ob-gyns: Be clear when talking with patients

New recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourage ob-gyns to tailor health information to individual patients and use plain language during medical discussions. The organization's four opinion statements, published online April 20 in Obstetrics & Gynecology, are intended to improve patient-physician communication. The reports address effective patient-physician communication, cultural sensitivity and awareness, health literacy and partnering with patients to improve safety. "We recognize that one of the key components to [achieving positive] health care outcomes is communication," said Patrice Weiss, MD, chair of ACOG's Committee on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement, which helped write several of the statements. "Compliance with medical treatments, even patients getting their prescriptions filled, is really dependant on how well" they understand the health information discussed during the office visit, Dr. Weiss said. ACOG recommen ...