News in Brief: Week of March 26-30

March 28, 2012 04:25 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

AAFP Adopts ACIP Provisional Recommendations Expanding Tdap Use

The Academy this week adopted provisional recommendations for the expanded use of tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine that recently were issued by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The provisional recommendations, which are posted on the CDC website(, call for adults ages 65 and older who have never received a Tdap dose to routinely receive the vaccine.

Previously, the recommendations said that patients 65 and older "may" be given a dose of Tdap to replace one dose of tetanus and diphtheria toxoids (Td) vaccine, although patients in this age group were recommended to receive a dose if they were in close contact with infants younger than age 6 months.

Specifically, the updated ACIP recommendations are:

  • For adults ages 19 and older who previously have not received a dose of Tdap, a single dose of Tdap should be given.
  • Tdap should be administered regardless of the interval since administration of the last tetanus or diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine.
  • Adults should receive a Tdap dose if the dose is recommended and no record of previous administration exists.

Social Security Disability Application Process Moves to Electronic Signatures

In a March 22 letter( to health care providers and other stakeholders, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue asked for the cooperation of physicians and others in acknowledging an improvement in the Social Security disability application process that allows applicants to electronically sign and submit their application forms.

According to Astrue, the change will speed up the application process. "I encourage your acceptance of the electronically signed form and your continued cooperation with us," he said in the letter.

Additional information( provided on the issue notes that quicker access to disability benefits may help decrease the number of uninsured and underinsured patients that physicians serve. Physicians will begin to see electronically signed SSA-827 forms in April but likely will continue to see pen-and-ink signatures, as well, for the foreseeable future.

Free Copy of Harrison CME Survey Available Online

The fourth annual installment of the Harrison Survey on CME provides insight into the state of CME at 178 participating medical schools and teaching hospitals in the United States and Canada.

Survey findings in the 2011 survey report show, among other things, an increased collaboration by participants with quality and performance improvement initiatives, as well as a move by academic CME programs to look for new sources of revenue in light of continuing declines in commercial support.

The survey is sponsored jointly by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Society for Academic CME, in collaboration with the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada. Free copies( of the 31-page survey report are available from the AAMC.

Indiana Governor Signs Partial Clean Indoor Air Measure

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has a signed into law a clean air bill that will ban smoking in nursing homes and mental health facilities and at charity gaming events as of July 1.

The measure is only a partial clean indoor air law because it will continue to allow smoking in many workplaces, including bars, taverns, casinos, retail tobacco stories, nonprofit private clubs, fraternal organizations, and cigar and hookah bars.

The Indiana AFP collaborated with various partners in the state to remove pre-emption language from the bill so local municipalities can pass stronger clean air laws in the future, said Melissa Lewis, M.S., director of membership and external affairs for the Indiana AFP.

"The Indiana AFP worked with coalition partners and legislative champions to the very end in an effort to protect more workers from secondhand smoke," said Lewis, but she still characterized the measure as the "weakest" clean air law in the Midwest.