News in Brief: Week of March 4-8

March 06, 2013 04:20 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

AAMC Report Details Rising Cost of U.S. Medical Education

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has released a report detailing the rising cost of U.S. medical education and its effect on medical student debt. In the report "Physician Education Debt and the Cost to Attend Medical School(" (24-page PDF; About PDFs), authors note that members of the nation's medical school class of 2012 reported a collective education debt of nearly $1.7 billion after earning their M.D. degrees.

According to a Feb. 26 press release( from the AAMC, the median student debt level in 2012 was about $170,000, which represents an increase of 5 percent from 2011. Gender, race, ethnicity and family income were not significant factors associated with debt levels. Report authors also noted that education debt did not play much of a role in students' choice of medical specialty.

The report is based on data from two AAMC annual surveys: the Graduation Questionnaire and the Tuition and Student Fees Survey.

Effective Patient Safety Strategies Outlined in AHRQ Report

A new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) identifies 22 patient safety strategies that are proven to be effective. Furthermore, the report strongly encourages adoption of 10 of the 22 strategies based on the strength and quality of evidence supporting them.

According to an executive summary of the report(, strategies addressed in the "top10" list include use of

  • preoperative and anesthesia checklists,
  • interventions to reduce urinary catheter use,
  • multicomponent interventions to reduce pressure ulcers, and
  • hand hygiene protocols.

The report, "Making Health Care Safer II: An Updated Critical Analysis of the Evidence for Patient Safety Practices(" (955-page PDF; About PDFs), updates a 2001 AHRQ report. The update provides an evidence base for strategies that work and lays out how to apply those strategies and under what circumstances they work best.

HRSA Seeks Nominations for Expert Advisory Committee

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is requesting nominations( (2-page PDF; About PDFs) to fill five vacancies on the National Advisory Council (NAC).

The NAC serves as a forum that identifies priorities and acts as a sounding board for proposed policy changes for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC).

HRSA is looking for individuals with a background in primary care, dental health or mental health and who have currently or previously filled a role as site administrators, physicians, dentists, mid-level professionals, mental or behavioral professionals, or NHSC scholars or loan repayers.

HRSA also wants professionals with expertise in one or more of the following areas:

  • working with underserved populations,
  • health care policy,
  • recruitment and retention,
  • site administration,
  • customer service,
  • marketing,
  • organizational partnerships,
  • research, and
  • clinical practice.

For further information, contact Kim Huffman at (301) 443–3863 or via e-mail.

Vaccine Stakeholders Invited to Attend 2D Barcoding Pilot Education Forum

Registration is open for the CDC 2D (two-dimensional) Vaccine Barcode Pilot's educational forum for immunizers(, to be held April 14-15 in New Orleans. All immunization community stakeholders -- not just those participating in the pilot -- are invited to attend the free event.

The forum is part of a pilot project launched by the CDC in response to the FDA's 2011 publication of its revised "Guidance for Industry: Bar Code Label Requirements -- Questions and Answers," which allowed vaccine manufacturers to begin seeking the agency's permission to use alternative coding technologies in place of the standard linear bar codes, as well as results from a study on the impact of 2D barcoded vaccines. A major portion of the project is a pilot implementation involving 10 CDC immunization program grantees, more than 200 immunization provider sites -- including a number of family physician practices -- and two vaccine manufacturers.

The educational forum aims to engage the immunization community in presentations and discussions about the implications of employing 2D barcoding technology on vaccine products with regard to immunizers' inventory management and administration workflows. In addition, CDC officials will discuss specifics of the ongoing pilot project, lessons learned to date and early findings. Registration for the forum( is available online, as is a preliminary meeting agenda( (3-page PDF; About PDFs).