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National Practitioner Data Bank expanded

A new federal rule has expanded the scope of the National Practitioner Data Bank to include disciplinary information not just on physicians but on all licensed health care professionals. In an effort to promote patient safety, the confidential reporting system was established under the federal Health Care Quality and Improvement Act of 1986 to give hospitals a snapshot of any issues with a doctor's competence or conduct before credentialing. A final rule published Jan. 28 by the Dept. of Health and Human Services expanded the data reported to the Health Resources and Services Administration, which administers the data bank, to include adverse actions taken against licensed health care professionals. That includes nurses, chiropractors, podiatrists and physician assistants. The rule, published in the Federal Register, is available online ( Before the new rule, the data bank collected negative findings only against physicians and de ...

TV medical dramas misleading on seizure first aid

About half the time, the doctors and nurses on popular fictional TV medical shows give improper seizure first aid that, in reality, could lead to broken teeth, bruises or dislocations, according to a study to be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting. Epileptologists noticed a trend of "people doing very inappropriate things on television and seeing some of the same sorts of things happening to our patients in real life," said Dr. Jeremy Moeller, who co-authored the study. "It's impossible to definitively prove the connection, but one of the potential sources of misinformation is TV." For example, bystanders should not try to hold down someone experiencing a generalized tonic-clonic, or grand mal, seizure, nor attempt to force open the patient's mouth, said Dr. Moeller, a postdoctoral clinical fellow at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in the Columbia University Medical Center Dept. of Neurology in New York. Dr. Moeller and his colleagues exa ...

Hypertension seen as neglected disease

Hypertension ranks among the nation's leading causes of death, spurred largely by economic barriers to blood pressure medication, excessive sodium intake and inadequate consumption of potassium, a new study says. The Institute of Medicine report, released Feb. 22, also found that physicians don't always adhere to screening and treatment guidelines. The problem is not physician awareness or agreement with the guidelines but the challenge of preventing and treating hypertension, said internist Vincenza Snow, MD, director of clinical programs and quality of care for the American College of Physicians. Elderly patients, for example, often choose not to aggressively pursue control of hypertension. Guidelines also do not account for external factors, such as uninsured patients who can't afford medication and patients with comorbidities, she said. Guidelines call for periodic screening, with initiation of treatment if systolic blood pressure is greater than 140 mmHg or diastolic is g ...