News in Brief: Week of April 30-May 4

May 02, 2012 05:10 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

New Report Shows Family Physician Salaries Rank Next-to-Last

The news from the 2012 Medscape Physician Compensation Report( likely will come as no surprise to most family physicians: Annual income for subspecialists continues to outpace that for primary care physicians, including FPs. In fact, average annual income for family physicians bested only that for pediatricians.

The report indicates that physician income declined overall compared with 2011 figures, although the top-earning specialties remained the same. This year, radiologists and orthopedic surgeons topped the list at $315,000, followed by cardiologists at $314,000, and anesthesiologists and urologists at $309,000. In 2011, both radiologists and orthopedic surgeons reported a mean income of $350,000, followed by anesthesiologists and cardiologists at $325,000.

Family physicians ranked second from the bottom this year at $158,000, compared with $156,000 for pediatricians. Internists were the third-lowest earners, with an annual income of $165,000.

The rankings are based on survey data collected from 24,216 U.S. physicians in 25 medical specialty areas between Feb. 1 and Feb. 17.

Web Page Makes AAFP Social Media Accounts Easy to Find

Did you know there are a wide variety of ways you can connect with the AAFP through social media? You now can find links to all those accounts -- including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr -- on one Web page.

Links on the Academy's new social media Web page lead to information about AAFP events, such as the Scientific Assembly; allow you to engage with other members, including AAFP President Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I.; and connect to Academy programs, such as Tar Wars. You'll also find links to Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs, and more for the AAFP's various journals. In addition, the page contains patient information with links to Facebook and Twitter accounts for

Medicare Contractor Reports Glitch in PCIP Incentive Payments

Novitas Solutions Inc., a certified CMS contractor, has issued a system alert( (scroll down to the April 25 alert) regarding a delay in issuing some first-quarter 2012 Primary Care Incentive Payment bonuses to eligible physicians.

According to Novitas, CMS provides Medicare contractors with a list of all national provider identifier (NPI) numbers that are eligible for the incentive payment. Then, on a quarterly basis, a shared database system compares the approved NPI numbers from CMS to the claims processing systems to identify the bonus payments that should be made to physicians for that quarter.

Apparently, the shared system did not recognize some of the NPIs for claims with 2012 dates of service. Novitas said it is working to correct the glitch so that those physicians due first-quarter incentive payments will receive them.

QI Progress Continues But Access Declined in 2011, Says AHRQ

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), patients are receiving better quality care than in previous years, although the pace of quality improvement (QI) remains slow. Overall access to care, however, slipped in 2011 compared with the previous year.

According to AHRQ's National Healthcare Quality Report, 2011( and National Healthcare Disparities Report, 2011(,

  • health care quality and access remain suboptimal, especially for minority and low-income groups;
  • although quality is improving, access to care and disparities in care are not;
  • urgent attention is warranted to ensure continued improvements in quality and progress on reducing disparities among certain services, geographic areas and populations; and
  • progress is uneven in working toward achieving national priorities identified in HHS' National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care and its Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, both published last year.

For example, among quality measures that showed the most rapid pace of improvement and those that deteriorated the most quickly, the proportion of adult surgery patients who received prophylactic antibiotics within one hour before surgery led the list of improvements, whereas, the percentage of children ages 19-35 months who received three doses of Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine showed the worst decline.

Similarly, the disparity between numbers of black versus white patients admitted to the hospital for congestive heart failure per 100,000 lessened, but the disparity gap between black and white maternal deaths per 100,000 live births widened.

IOM Report Calls for Life-cycle Approach to FDA Drug Safety Oversight

A new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls on the FDA to create a long-term risk/benefit plan for each new drug brought to market.

According to a May 1 press release( from the National Academy of Sciences, the creation of a central management plan for every new drug would strengthen the FDA's oversight of approved drugs' safety. The issue, says the release, is that the full range of a medication's effects "may not become apparent until a product has been used by a larger, more diverse population over an extended period of time."

Authors of the report, titled Ethical and Scientific Issues in Studying the Safety of Approved Drugs, recommend that the plan created for each drug should be a comprehensive document -- easily accessible by the public -- that covers the lifespan of a drug from the time it is approved by the FDA until the product is no longer available on the market.

A brief of the report( is available for download; the text of the full report( can be read online at no charge.