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Malpractice lawsuits hit 10-year low in Missouri

New medical liability lawsuit filings in Missouri reached a 10-year low, according to a recent report by the state Dept. of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration ( The study, released in September, looked at the number of malpractice suits filed in 2008 and found that 1,215 new claims were filed, the lowest number since 1999. The state also recorded 3,017 claims still open in 2008 -- an all-time low in the 30 years the state has tracked the data. Average claims payments stood at $202,612 in 2008, a slight uptick from $195,239 in 2007, according to the report. The highest average payment recorded so far was $253,888 in 2005. The Missouri State Medical Assn. attributed the improvements to a package of tort reform measures the Legislature passed in 2005; the centerpiece was a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases. Other provisions included restrictions on whe ...

CMS: 21.2% Medicare pay cut for doctors unless Congress acts

The final 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule confirms that physicians face a 21.2% pay cut starting Jan. 1, 2010, unless Congress adopts legislation to avert it. The official figure is only slightly lower than the 21.5% reduction the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was predicting earlier this year. The Obama administration supports a permanent repeal of the current physician payment formula and has called on Congress to pass legislation to that effect. But CMS noted in the final rule that, without congressional action, it is required by Medicare statute to implement the across-the-board cut, which will apply to the 2010 conversion factor. In response to the final fee schedule rule, the American Medical Association reiterated that Congress must fix the formula permanently this year or risk leaving seniors, baby boomers and military families without access to physicians. "Permanent repeal of the payment formula is an essential element of comprehensive reform to improv ...

HPV vaccine proposed for teen boys

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the use of a human papillomavirus vaccine for certain males to help prevent the transmission of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11. But doctors have expressed concern that the committee didn't go far enough, cautioning that the lack of a full recommendation could lead to a disparity in vaccination accessibility and add to challenges in inoculating adolescent boys. During an Oct. 21 meeting, ACIP issued a recommendation for the use of Merck's quadrivalent HPV vaccine, Gardasil, for males ages 9 to 26. The action followed the Oct. 16 approval of the drug by the Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of genital warts in males. ACIP, a committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave a permissive recommendation. That means the committee believes Gardasil is an effective vaccine, but it is waiting for data on cost effectiveness and efficacy in preventing precancer in males, said La ...