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Tort reform faces constitutional challenge in Washington

Washington Supreme Court justices on Feb. 25 heard oral arguments in a case that will decide the fate of a tort reform measure aimed at curbing unnecessary medical liability litigation. The 2006 law requires patients to notify defendants of any intentions to sue at least 90 days before filing a medical liability action. Dental patient Nancy Waples has asked the high court to declare the measure unconstitutional, alleging that it sets a higher bar for medical liability cases and violates her equal protection rights. An appeals court rejected those arguments in 2008, when it dismissed a negligence suit Waples filed against her dentist because she failed to file the required prelitigation notice. Physicians noted that the Legislature passed the reform to preserve access to care by promoting settlements and tempering rising medical liability costs. Those are legitimate state goals that the courts should not second-guess, according to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Washin ...

Health communication project did not increase physician-patient interaction

A program designed to strengthen physician-patient communication and improve health outcomes may not be as effective as originally thought, according to a study in the March/April Annals of Family Medicine. The Ask Me 3 program encourages patients to ask three questions during each physician visit: What is my main problem? What do I need to do? Why is it important for me to do this? But researchers found that the initiative did not lead to patients asking these specific questions or more questions in general. In addition, the program did not improve patients' adherence to prescription medications or lifestyle recommendations ( For the study, researchers randomly assigned 20 physician practices, which were part of the American Academy of Family Physicians' National Research Network, to an intervention group or a control group. The practices included 41 doctors. For the intervention group, AM3 posters were placed on waiting roo ...

Cosmetic surgery rates show signs of rebounding

Independent surveys on cosmetic surgery and treatments in the United States, by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, reached similar conclusions: Despite the recession, demand for cosmetic procedures is strong and poised to grow stronger. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in a survey released March 9, said an estimated 10 million procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2009, down 2% from 2008. The society said surgical procedures declined 17%, but nonsurgical procedures grew 1%. Injections of botulinum toxin type A (commonly known as BOTOX®) accounted for 2.5 million procedures, about a quarter of all cosmetic procedures. BOTOX® injections alone beat all surgical procedures combined by more than 1 million. Overall, nonsurgical procedures outnumbered surgical procedures by a ratio of 85-to-15. Breast augmentation led all surgical procedures at more than 311,000, but that was down from 355,000 in 20 ...