News in Brief: Week of June 16-20

June 22, 2014 07:03 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Prolonged Diarrhea This Summer Could Be Cyclosporiasis

CDC officials are advising U.S. health care professionals to consider Cyclospora(www.cdc.gov) as a potential cause of prolonged diarrheal illness, particularly in patients with a history of recent travel to tropical or subtropical regions. According to Francisca Abanyie, M.D., M.P.H., epidemic intelligence service officer for the Parasitic Diseases Branch of the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria at the CDC, most cases reported in the United States have occurred during the months of May through August, peaking in June and July.

Symptoms of cyclosporiasis begin an average of seven days (range: two days to two weeks or longer) after ingestion of sporulated oocysts (the infective form of the parasite), said Abanyie. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea, which can be profuse. Other common symptoms include anorexia, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, flatulence, abdominal cramping and myalgia; vomiting and low-grade fever also may occur.

Cyclospora infection is diagnosed by examining stool specimens. Testing for Cyclospora is not routinely done in most U.S. laboratories, even when stool is tested for parasites. Therefore, if indicated, health care professionals should specifically request testing for Cyclospora. Patients might need to provide several specimens collected on different days because even people who are symptomatic might not shed enough oocysts in their stool to be readily detected by laboratory testing.

Information about resources for health care professionals is available from the CDC website(www.cdc.gov), or call (404) 718-4745 for clinical consults.

Milestone Reached in Fight Against Influenza

The FDA has given the nod(www.hhs.gov) for Novartis of Basel, Switzerland, to manufacture seasonal influenza vaccine using cell-based technology in its Holly Springs, N.C., facility.

The Holly Springs facility opened in 2012 and is capable of manufacturing cell-based vaccines against seasonal and pandemic influenza viruses. "This new capability demonstrates the effectiveness of a multi-use approach to emergency preparedness," said Robin Robinson, Ph.D., director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and deputy assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response, in an HHS news release.

The facility can produce as many as 200 million doses of pandemic influenza vaccine within six months of the declaration of a pandemic. The FDA's approval of manufacturing at the facility means the United States' capacity for seasonal influenza vaccine production has increase by at least 50 million doses.

Since its establishment in 2006, BARDA has sponsored the development of new technologies(www.phe.gov) for use in emergencies, including the cell-based technology soon to be used at Holly Springs.

Webcast Offers Free ICD-10 Training to Family Physicians

CMS invites family physicians to view a newly posted webcast(www.roadto10.org) that covers documentation and coding related to the ICD-10-CM code sets for outpatient diagnostic coding.

The free webcast runs about 46 minutes in length and was tailored specifically to meet the clinical documentation needs that are unique to family medicine and internal medicine physicians.

The webcast is part of a larger CMS program, dubbed Road to 10(www.roadto10.org), that aims to train physicians of all medical specialties how to correctly use the ICD-10 code sets that are scheduled for implementation in 2015. When implemented, the updated codes will explode the number of diagnosis codes available to physicians from about 14,500 in the current ICD-9 system to about 69,700 in ICD-10.

Health IT Publication Issues Call for Papers

Physicians who also are health information technology gurus may want to share their great ideas with colleagues via eGEMS, the official journal of the Electronic Data Methods Forum.

The publication recently announced a call for papers(repository.academyhealth.org), some of which will be included in a special issue devoted to sharing lessons learned from innovators and leaders who have developed and deployed user-friendly health IT tools that improve patient outcomes.

The deadline for submissions is Sept. 10.

Report Says Provider Networks Must Balance Affordability, Access

A new report developed by Georgetown University and the Urban Institute highlights some of the challenges associated with the recent and widespread narrowing of commercial payers' networks of health care professionals. The trimming trend among health insurance plans is an untended consequence of implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as payers work to reduce their costs.

Authors of the report(www.rwjf.org)(0 bytes), titled "Narrow Provider Networks in New Health Plans: Balancing Affordability With Access to Quality Care," note that consumers who choose lower-cost health plans may not realize that more affordable premiums usually go hand-in-hand with a shorter list of in-network physicians and facilities from which to choose.

The report, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, offers strategies -- such as instituting limits on the distance patients travel to access care -- to help ensure that in the future, slimmed down networks will be able to blend the affordability that consumers want with the access to quality health care they need.


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