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Am Fam Physician. 2003 May 1;67(9):1857-1858.

Family Practice Match Indicates Continued Decline in Specialty Fill Rate

Results released by the National Resident Matching Program show that the 2003 national fill rate for family practice residency positions was 76.2 percent (2,239 positions filled of 2,940 positions offered), representing a decrease from last year's 79 percent. The fill-rate percentage for senior medical students in the United States continued to decline from 47.4 percent in 2002 to 42 percent in 2003. Factors that may be influencing this trend include inadequate reimbursement for patient services including those provided to Medicare patients, increasing regulatory burdens, and decreasing federal budgetary support of family medicine training programs. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) conducted major studies from 1998 to 2000 at the University of Arizona, Tucson, to determine the causes of this trend of declining fill rates for family medicine. In 2001, the AAFP created the Future of Family Medicine project to determine the health care and technology needs of patients and to examine ways to provide relevant residency curriculum and up-to-date continuing medical education. For a complete listing of the 2003 National Resident Matching Program results, visit www.aafp.org/match.

Federal Government Creates Health Information Exchange Standards

The federal government recently announced the adoption of the first set of uniform standards for the electronic exchange of clinical health information that will be used by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. These standards, which are part of the foundation of the National Health Information Infrastructure that will serve consumers, patients, health care providers, and public health professionals, will help improve the quality of health care by ensuring that federal entities use a common coding system to coordinate care and exchange needed information. This system of standardized information exchange will make it easier for health care providers to share relevant patient information and to identify emerging public health threats. This system will have security provisions to ensure the privacy of patient information.

HHS Releases 2001 National Statistics on Child Abuse and Neglect

According to data released by HHS' Administration for Children and Families, an estimated 903,000 children across the country (approximately 12.4 out of every 1,000 children) were victims of abuse or neglect in 2001, which was comparable to 2000. The data, which are based on information collected through the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, show that child protective agencies received about 2,672,000 reports of possible maltreatment in 2001. Of the 903,000 substantiated cases of maltreatment of children, the majority involved cases of neglect in 2001. Approximately 1,300 children died as a result of abuse or neglect. The rate of child neglect and abuse in 2001 was about 19 percent lower than the rate in 1993, when maltreatment peaked at an estimated 15.3 out of every 1,000 children. President Bush's administration is proposing a new approach to protecting children in the child welfare system that would provide states and tribes the flexibility and sustained financial support to maintain abuse-preventive services and to build innovative programs for children and families aimed at preventing maltreatment and removal from home. The full report, “Child Maltreatment 2001,” is available online at www.calib.com/nccanch/prevmnth.

AAFP Creates New Policy Regarding Ephedra-Containing Dietary Supplements

The AAFP recently announced a new policy that joins the American Medical Association in urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove dietary supplements containing ephedra alkaloids from the U.S. market and to reclassify ephedra as a drug with appropriate testing and regulation. To remove a product from the market, the FDA must prove that it presents an “unreasonable risk of illness or injury” to American consumers under the recommended or suggested conditions of use in the product's labeling. The FDA currently classifies ephedra as a food supplement. To read the complete AAFP policy, go to http://www.aafp.org/about/policies/clinical.html.

Survey Reveals Decreased Funding Is Top Concern for Academic Health Centers

According to results of the Perspectives 2003 survey, the top concerns of academic health center leaders involve the impact of state budgets and funding on their institutions' capabilities to sustain current responsibilities and services in health professions education, biomedical research, and health care delivery. The survey, which is conducted by the Association of Academic Health Centers, assesses the concerns, priorities, and emerging issues for academic health center leaders. Sixty-two percent of respondents said this was at least the second year of funding cuts from their states, while 22 percent of academic health centers closed or downsized educational programs, 24 percent cut faculty positions, and 24 percent cut clinical programs. Despite continued funding from the National Institutes of Health, 65 percent of respondents rated inadequate funding among the greatest threats to the nation's research enterprise.

Physicians Encouraged to Promote National Women's Health Week

The 2003 National Women's Health Week is May 11 to May 17 and will focus on educating, screening, and counseling women, especially those who are medically underserved, on preventive health issues. On Monday, May 12, community health centers, hospitals, and health care professionals across America will encourage women to receive preventive health care services as part of National Women's Check-Up Day. Other events will include walks, health forums, and women's health publication releases. National Women's Health Week is sponsored by the National Women's Health Information Center, which is a service of HHS' Office on Women's Health. For more information about the week's events, go online to www.4woman.gov/whw.



Copyright © 2003 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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