News in Brief: Week of Aug. 19-23

August 21, 2013 03:20 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

Covidien Recalls Prefilled Flush Syringes Because of Sterility Concerns

According to an Aug. 19 press release( posted on the FDA website, medical equipment manufacturer Covidien has initiated a voluntary recall of certain lots of its Monoject prefill flush syringes because of the risk that a number of the syringes were filled with water but not subjected to the company's sterilization process.

The affected products are labeled as either "sodium chloride flush" or "heparin lock flush." Although some of these products may have mismatched syringe tip caps, labels, filled volumes and wrappers, the affected sodium chloride flush syringes bear no such visual cues.

According to the FDA, in addition to the health risk of life-threatening infection of the blood stream or other areas, if physicians or other health care professionals use an affected heparin lock flush syringe on peripheral or venous catheters, the patency of the intravascular device may not be maintained and could result in nonfunctional IV access that would require the device to be replaced.

Customers may contact Covidien at (800) 962-9888 to get more information. To return affected products for credit, callers should press option 1, then option 2, and request a return goods authorization number.

AAFP members can report adverse events linked to drugs and biologic agents via RxEvent, an adverse drug event reporting service that has partnered with the Academy. All physicians, health care professionals and patients can report such events through MedWatch(, the FDA's Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Research Identifies Barriers to Integrating E-mail, E-Visits Into Patient Care

Authors of a study published in the August issue of the journal Health Affairs identify barriers that limit physicians' use of e-mail messaging and e-visits in their patient care routines. An abstract of the study(, which is titled "Electronic Communication Improves, But Barriers to Its Widespread Adoption Remain," is available at no charge.

According to a synopsis of the study( by The Commonwealth Fund, which supported the research, expanding physician use of these technologies in patient care will require implementation of payment models that compensate physicians for providing that care.

Physicians who participated in the research indicated that a desire to provide patient-centered care was their primary motivation for setting up electronic communication outlets. Authors noted that e-communications are convenient, inexpensive and improve access; however, they concluded that practices considering implementing patient e-mail and e-visits also need to implement strategies to gain better control of electronic message management.

HHS Names New AHRQ Director

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has named Richard Kronick, Ph.D., the new director( of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Kronick, a renowned health policy researcher, succeeds longtime director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., who is stepping down at the end of this month.

Kronick joined HHS in January 2010 as deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation and, in that role, was responsible for overseeing the Office of Health Policy. He currently is on leave from his position as professor and chief of the Division of Health Care Sciences in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

Kronick is the former director of policy and reimbursement for the Medicaid division of the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare and served as a senior health care policy adviser during the Clinton administration.

Win $5,000 in Million Hearts Hypertension Control Challenge

Does your family medicine practice do a great job of identifying patients with hypertension and controlling their blood pressure? If so, consider participating in the 2013 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Challenge( launched on Aug. 9 by HHS and the CDC.

The challenge is a spinoff of the national Million Hearts campaign( that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The AAFP is a supporter of the campaign.

The Hypertension Control Challenge aims to identify clinicians, clinical practices and health systems that have achieved exceptional rates of hypertension control and recognize them as "champions" eligible to receive cash prizes and garner local and national recognition. A total of 14 private-sector champions will receive cash prizes of $5,000 each.

Act quickly to beat the Sept. 9 deadline for submitting nominations(