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Study shows link between chronic disease and sepsis risk

For more than two decades, physicians have tried to combat sepsis by identifying the condition early and treating it aggressively, according to Henry E. Wang, MD, MPH. But it might be more effective to redirect that focus toward preventing the potentially fatal infection, said Dr. Wang, lead study author and associate professor and vice chair for research in the Dept. of Emergency Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His recommendation is based on new findings that show there is an association between chronic diseases and an increased risk of getting sepsis later. The strongest connection was exhibited in chronic lung disease and chronic kidney disease, according to the study, published online Oct. 31 in PLOS ONE. Each condition more than doubles a person’s risk of developing sepsis, said the study. Dr. Wang was lead author of the report. The more chronic diseases a person has, the greater the individual’s risk of getting sepsis, data show. A possible ...

Doctors get another chance to avoid Medicare e-prescribing penalty

Doctors who were unable to meet Medicare electronic prescribing requirements will have a second chance to claim a hardship exemption and prevent the 2013 e-prescribing penalty from reducing their Medicare pay. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will allow physicians and other eligible health professionals an additional window of time in which to file hardship exemptions, indicating to the agency that a 1.5% penalty should not be applied to all Medicare rates next year, officials said. Any physician who did not request an exemption by the original due date, June 30, now can file a hardship application by Jan. 31, 2013. The American Medical Association had pushed for additional chances for physicians to avoid the penalty adjustment when circumstances out of their control prevented them from e-prescribing. “The AMA has consistently advocated for more flexibility under the Medicare e-prescribing exemption categories, and we are pleased that CMS is allowing physicians w ...

Med school enrollment up but only partial solution to doctor shortage, educators say

Medical schools around the country continued to see enrollment grow in 2012. But educators warn that efforts to produce more physicians will mean little without more federal funding for graduate medical education. Schools have worked to increase the pipeline of physicians in recent years by opening more than a dozen new allopathic and osteopathic medical schools and expanding existing schools, said Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and CEO of the Assn. of American Medical Colleges. Now Congress needs to increase federal funding for GME, he said. Medicare funding for GME has been capped since the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. “The medical schools have done their part,” Dr. Kirch said. “But unless Congress acts soon, there won’t be enough training positions for all of these doctors who graduate to go out and practice in our communities. We can’t ignore this problem.” Physician shortages are projected to reach 90,000 by 2020, according to the AAMC Center for Workforce St ...