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Reforming Medicare payment system creates divide among doctors

While the majority of physicians agree that Medicare payments are inequitable and unfair, there is little consensus about how to reform the system, according to a study published in the Oct. 25 Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers examined survey responses from 1,222 physicians. Nearly 80% of respondents indicated that Medicare payments are unsatisfactory. Among doctors who accepted Medicare, 40% "strongly agreed" and 38% "somewhat agreed" that under Medicare some procedures are compensated too highly and others are compensated at rates insufficient to cover costs. Of the three payment reform proposals researchers asked about, physicians showed the highest support for the use of incentives to improve quality ( Regarding cost-shifting of payments, 42% supported it, while 46% opposed it. Most doctors supported a shift in payments toward counseling and management compared with only 17% of surgeons. Support for shifting p ...

Surgical diversity initiative has double bonus

A commercially sponsored training program designed to help minority physicians improve their odds of landing competitive fellowship training spots also has meant that more minority graduates are pursuing academic medicine, a new study shows. Of the 42 graduates of the Diverse Surgeons Initiative now in practice, 57% hold positions as full-time faculty members in academic surgery departments, according to the study published in the October Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Experts have pointed to the lack of diversity among medical school faculty as one reason why there is a shortage of minority physicians. "Our main goal for this program was to provide qualified underrepresented minority residents with the fundamental skills that would enable them to excel in their surgical careers," said Paris D. Butler, MD, MPH, the study's lead author and surgical resident at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville. "There are many potential factors for the short ...

Routine depression screenings of teens could prevent recurrence, study finds

Conducting regular depression screenings for adolescents who have had major depressive disorder could prevent the condition from recurring, according to new research. A study published online Nov. 1 in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that nearly all adolescents treated for major depression will recover. But almost half will have a recurrence within five years. The findings indicate "that there's a very high chance a person is going to get better. ... Doctors can convey that hopefulness to families and patients. But physicians have to be aware that [depression] could occur again," said lead study author John Curry, PhD, professor of medical psychology in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Curry encourages physicians to screen such patients for depression symptoms, such as trouble sleeping and eating, during regular office visits. Major depressive disorder is one of the most prevalent psychiatric conditions ...