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AMA helping physicians broach the subject of obesity
The patient depicted in the video is 50 pounds overweight, stressed and daunted by the task of trying to slim down. It's a common scenario for physicians facing the medical consequences of patients' poor lifestyle choices. Research shows that doctors can influence patients to eat better and be more active, but they have to know how to broach the subject with patients. The American Medical Association has released new continuing medical education tools to help doctors discuss weight with patients. The materials have been certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit and include two videos and a report. They provide tips on how to talk with patients about making positive lifestyle changes for themselves and their children, how to overcome patient negativity and how to encourage patients to persevere. "By using these tools, physicians will gain a better understanding of why patients make unhealthy decisions and will learn how to initiate conversations about healthy eating and physic [Read more]
Kansas looks to managed care for Medicaid overhaul
Kansas is turning to managed care organizations to provide Medicaid enrollees more integrated, higher-quality care and to limit Medicaid spending growth. The state on Nov. 9 released a request for proposals for KanCare, both a consolidation of existing agencies that serve the state's 378,000 Medicaid enrollees and an attempt to recruit managed care organizations to provide comprehensive, coordinated, quality care. Bids are due by Jan. 13, and the state expects to sign statewide contracts with three MCOs. "Serving the needs of the whole person as well as ensuring long-term fiscal sustainability are the principles this plan is built upon," said Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, MD, who led the initiative. The reform will require federal approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, but the state hopes to receive it and begin KanCare by January 2013. Historically, the state's Medicaid program hasn't focused sufficiently on quality outcomes, according to a KanCare summary [Read more]
Judge halts graphic warnings on cigarette packages
A federal judge has temporarily blocked a new rule requiring graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. The decision was a victory for tobacco companies who say the warnings are unfair and would cost millions of dollars to produce. The Food and Drug Administration in June said the nine text and graphic health warnings would be required in an effort to curb tobacco use and encourage users to quit smoking. The labels -- scheduled to appear on packages and cartons by September 2012 -- include images of a man smoking through a tracheotomy hole and a dead person with a surgery-scarred chest. In his Nov. 7 opinion, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the tobacco companies showed they probably will prevail on their claim that the mandatory graphic images unconstitutionally force commercial speech. "This case poses a constitutional challenge to a bold new tack by the Congress and the FDA, in their obvious and continuing efforts to mini [Read more]
Physicians, theologians examine faith and medical practice
Chicago -- Nashville, Tenn., psychiatrist Andrew Michel, MD, often feels frustrated in his practice. He says his specialty's diagnostic system is not well-validated, that psychotropic medications are frequently ineffective, and that managed care means there is never enough time to plumb the depths of his patients' mental anguish. Dr. Michel draws upon his Christian faith to find the will to sustain his commitment to medicine amid these challenges. On a busy day, moving from one all-too-brief appointment to the next, he has time only for a simple prayer: "Lord, have mercy." How medical practice and religious faith intersect was the subject of a Nov. 10 symposium hosted by the University of Chicago Program on Medicine and Religion. The event drew about 120 physicians, theologians, chaplains and clergy to hear lectures on topics such as "Judaism and the Practice of Medicine," "Christian Witness in Health Care" and "Medicine in an Apocalyptic Context." The one-day event is just [Read more]
CMS chief Dr. Berwick to step down Dec. 2
Washington -- President Obama on Nov. 23 nominated Marilyn B. Tavenner to be the next administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Donald M. Berwick, MD, the current CMS chief, will serve his last day on Dec. 2, according to a letter he sent to agency staff. He has been administrator since July 2010. "Our work has been challenging, and the journey is not complete, but we are now well on our way to achieving a whole new level of security and quality for health care in America," Dr. Berwick wrote. Dr. Berwick made a central goal at CMS his three-part aim of improving health care for individuals, improving population health and lowering health care costs. "He infused a deep commitment to patient-centered care into all the [CMS] innovations and was a tireless advocate for reforms that improve patient outcomes and patient experiences of care," said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, a health care advocacy organization. [Read more]
Many writers of diabetes, cholesterol guidelines have conflicts of interest
Half of experts who write clinical practice guidelines for diabetes and high cholesterol have financial conflicts of interest with the drug industry, a study says. One in nine panelists who said they had no conflicts actually had a conflict, said the study, published online Oct. 11 in the journal BMJ. "Our main concern is that there is a potential risk of industry influence on developing guideline recommendations," said lead study author Jennifer Neuman, MD, an instructor of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "For practitioners and developers alike, it's important to be mindful of this issue." The study examined 14 guidelines published on diabetes and high cholesterol between 2000 and 2010 by national organizations in the United States and Canada. Those groups included the American Heart Assn. and the American Diabetes Assn. A financial conflict was defined as direct compensation to a guideline panelist by a manufacturer of a drug used to treat [Read more]
Lawsuit can be amended after deadline to include wrongful death
A Massachusetts plaintiff can amend a medical liability lawsuit to include wrongful death even though the time allowed under the law to make the claim has expired, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled in October. However, the court set parameters on when a wrongful death claim may be substituted for a personal injury claim, ruling that: The trial must not have begun. The original complaint alleging malpractice must have been filed within the time frame that the law allows. The allegations of liability supporting the personal injury claim must be the same as those supporting the wrongful death claim. "I don't think [the ruling] will open the floodgates," said John P. Barylick, an attorney with Wistow & Barylick in Providence, R.I., who represented the patient's family. "It is really fairly limited circumstances." He noted that this is the first time the issue has come before the court in the more than 20 years since the Massachusetts Legislature enacted the l [Read more]
Medicare looks to ease physician revocation rules
Washington -- Physicians who are kicked out of Medicare because of a clerical or administrative error would be reinstated quickly under a rule change proposed by the Obama administration. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services acknowledges that the consequences for missing Medicare enrollment deadlines are unnecessarily harsh and can jeopardize access to care for patients, according to an Oct. 18 proposed rule. The Medicare agency has proposed rolling back this policy along with a number of other regulations considered Draconian. "These rules reflect the [Obama] administration's ongoing commitment to reducing regulatory burdens as much as possible, while maintaining full protections for the doctors and patients in our system," Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a briefing on the rule changes. The American Medical Association and other physician associations support numerous changes to regulations and already have secured several re [Read more]
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