News in Brief: Week of May 14-18

May 16, 2012 04:45 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Download Free Guide on Maintaining Privacy, Security of EHRs

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology has released a new resource to help physicians incorporate mandatory privacy and security safeguards into their electronic health record (EHR) systems.

The free manual, titled Guide to Privacy and Security of Health Information(www.healthit.gov), reiterates the importance of guarding the privacy and security of patient information stored and transmitted electronically. The ONC guide offers physicians a variety of tools, including a security risk analysis of a practice's EHR, tips on successful partnering with EHR vendors, and a 10-step privacy and security plan.

In addition, the ONC's website features an area devoted to helping physicians ensure the privacy and security(www.healthit.gov) of their EHRs.

Study Documents Decline in Health Care Access for U.S. Adults

The ability of adults to obtain basic health care services in the United States has declined in nearly every state during the past 10 years, according to a study(onlinelibrary.wiley.com) released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This was especially true for adults without insurance.

In the past decade, the rates of unmet medical needs climbed in 42 states, and the percentage of adults receiving routine check-ups dropped in 37 states. In addition, the percentage of adults who had dental visits fell in 29 states, the report said.

According to the report, between 2000 and 2010, nearly half of uninsured adults (48.1 percent) experienced an unmet health care need because of cost compared to 11.2 percent of adults with health insurance. During that 10-year period, the share of uninsured adults experiencing unmet needs because of health care costs climbed by more than 10 percent.

The report also found that the share of adults with unmet needs resulting from cost climbed by six percentage points from 2000 to 2010 and now affects nearly one in five adults between the ages of 19 and 64.

FDA Warns Against Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

According to a recent FDA news release(www.fda.gov), people with multiple sclerosis (MS) are at risk of serious injuries and death when undergoing procedures that treat chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI). In addition, the FDA said that the procedural benefits of these treatments have yet to be proven.

The FDA said some researchers believe that CCSVI may cause MS or at least contribute to the progression of the disease, but studies exploring such a link are inconclusive, and the criteria used to diagnose CCSVI remain unsubstantiated.

There is no reliable evidence from controlled clinical trials that procedures treating CCSVI are effective in treating MS, said the agency. "FDA encourages rigorously conducted, properly targeted research to evaluate the relationship between CCSVI and MS," said William Maisel, M.D., M.P.H., chief scientist and deputy director for science in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "Patients are encouraged to discuss the potential risks and benefits of this procedure with a neurologist or other physician who is familiar with MS and CCSVI, including the CCSVI procedures and their outcomes."


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