News in Brief: Week of June 10-14

June 12, 2013 03:21 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

AAFP, USPSTF Issue Child Maltreatment Recommendations

The AAFP, along with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force( (USPSTF), has issued final recommendations stating that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of primary care interventions to prevent child maltreatment for children who do not have signs or symptoms of maltreatment.

According to the USPSTF recommendation statement, the reasons for this conclusion include significant heterogeneity in study methods and interventions, as well as inconsistent and limited evidence on outcomes and how they were measured.

In its statement, the task force acknowledges that child maltreatment is a serious problem that can result in lifelong negative consequences for victims. In 2011, more than 680,000 children were affected by maltreatment, resulting in 1,570 deaths.

"Most child maltreatment is in the form of neglect (approximately 78 percent), and most deaths occur in children younger than 4 years (approximately 80 percent)," says the recommendation. "Pediatricians, family physicians and other primary care providers are in a unique position to identify children at risk of maltreatment through well-child and other visits.

"However, although pediatricians state that preventing maltreatment is one of their primary roles, they rarely explicitly screen for family violence in practice or screen only in selected cases. All states have home visiting programs to support families with young children, but the services provided in these programs and the eligibility criteria vary by state."

Medicare Shared Savings Program Topic of CMS Calls

CMS subject matter experts are conducting national provider calls on June 20 and July 18 to help physicians considering participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The shared savings initiative will, among other things, help physicians participate in accountable care organizations.

During the June 20 call -- from 1:30-3 p.m. EDT -- the hosts will provide a review of the program's application process. CMS encourages registrants to review information about the shared savings program application( before the call.

The July 18 call -- scheduled from 1-2:30 p.m. EDT -- will focus on answering callers' questions about the application process. An online link to the slide presentation for the call will be e-mailed to registrants the day of the event. Registration now is open for both calls(

CDC Study Sheds Light on ER Visits

One in five Americans makes at least one trip to the emergency room (ER) every year, and 7 percent of Americans make two or more trips annually, says a new CDC study(

The study also found that from 2009 to 2013, cold symptoms were the most prevalent reason for ER visits among children. These visits accounted for 27 percent of children's ER visits; injuries accounted for most adult visits to the ER.

The median wait times to see an ER physician between 2008 and 2010 averaged 58 minutes for adults between the ages of 18 and 64 and 51 minutes for children. Wait times for adults ages 65 and older averaged 48 minutes, according to the study.

In the meantime, the mean expenditure (in 2010 dollars) for an ER visit during the past decade that did not result in a hospital admission jumped by 77 percent, climbing from $546 in 2000 to $969 in 2010.

Stay Current on CMS Administrative Simplification Activities

CMS is trying to keep health care professionals abreast of activities pertaining to administration simplification provisions called for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by offering automatic e-mail updates(

E-mails will inform subscribers about outreach and educational events geared to physicians and other health care professionals, as well as the availability of education products.

California Practices With PCMH Attributes More Effective At Preventive Care

California adults with chronic diseases who received care from a practice with at least three defined characteristics of the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) were more likely to receive flu shots and follow-up care than residents who accessed care from practices that lacked one or more of the three defined PCMH attributes.

That's according to a recent study( by the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Health Policy Research, which used data from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey to estimate whether the more than 4 million adults in the state with chronic diseases were accessing care from physician practices with medical home characteristics. Researchers defined the three characteristics of the PCMH as

  • the patient saw a regular physician during a period of time, rather than switching from physician to physician;
  • the physician developed an individual treatment plan for each patient; and
  • the physician coordinated the patient's care.

Fifty percent of the adults in the study being seen in practices with all three characteristics of the medical home had five or more physician visits during the past year compared to 43 percent of adults in practices with two out of the three PCMH characteristics and 31 percent in practices that had one of the three characteristics. Only 22 percent of the adults in practices with none of the characteristics of a PCMH saw a physician during the past year, according to the study.