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Drug czar pushes Rx monitoring for all states

In his first major speech since his appointment as the so-called drug czar, R. Gil Kerlikowske reaffirmed the Office of National Drug Control Policy's push to expand prescription drug monitoring programs to all 50 states. Kerlikowske, the former police chief of Seattle, delivered an address at the May 20 National Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Initiative meeting in Nashville, Tenn. He said it is "essential" that prescription drug monitoring programs are in place across the country. "Just as law enforcement needs to learn from health professionals about addiction and abuse to help us do our jobs, so too must the health community learn from law enforcement about the public safety consequences of excessive prescriptions and the reality of doctor shopping," Kerlikowske said in his address. The American Medical Association supports the expansion of prescription drug monitoring programs as a way of assisting physicians in identifying patients in need of help, rather than for ...

More practices refusing to accept credit cards from patients

Even as patients increasingly are paying for care out of their own pockets, more practices are stopping them from doing so with one of the most-used items in their wallets: credit cards. A third of physician practices did not accept credit cards as of April, up 5 points from 28% last year, according to SK&A Information Services. The company, which aggregates data on physician practices for pharmaceutical and device manufacturing companies, did a telephone survey of 202,650 physician offices nationwide at the behest of an undisclosed credit-card company client. SK&A said a specialty's interest in accepting credit cards seems to be linked with its reliance on patient self-pay and the age of its patient base. The highest acceptance rate was in plastic surgery, with 91% of practices open to plastic payments. Pathology, at 21%, had the lowest acceptance rate. Family physicians had a credit card acceptance rate of 71.9%; internists, 53.1%; and geriatricians, 32%, according to SK&A. ...

Surgical team briefings may improve patient safety

Preoperative briefings involving all members of a surgical team can decrease disruptions and miscommunications during a procedure and may improve patient safety, according to a study in the June Journal of the American College of Surgeons ( The study, conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found that briefings resulted in fewer miscommunications -- 1.17 versus 2.5 per operation. During the meetings, each member of a surgical team reports his or her plan for the pending operation and asks questions or raises issues. "Briefings get everyone together, and they get their minds wrapped around this particular case," said co-investigator Thoralf M. Sundt III, MD, a professor of surgery in Mayo's division of cardiovascular surgery. "I'm convinced they make it safer for patients." The briefing protocol was pilot-tested during 16 of Dr. Sundt's operations. The cardiac-specific protocol was designed with the input of 5 ...