News in Brief: Week of Nov. 25-29

November 27, 2013 03:15 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

AAFP, USPSTF Issue Final Recommendations on Oral Cancer Screening

In April, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reaffirmed its previous position on screening asymptomatic adults for oral cancer, issuing a draft recommendation statement that said current evidence remains insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of testing.

Specifically, task force members were unable to find adequate evidence to shed light on three key questions about screening:
• Can the oral cancer screening exam detect oral cancer accurately?
• Can screening for oral cancer and treating screen-detected oral cancer improve morbidity or mortality?
• What are the harms of screening?
That continuing lack of evidence again has prevented the USPSTF from making a definitive recommendation on the topic.
The AAFP also now has updated its own recommendation on this screening issue, agreeing that the available evidence "is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for oral cancer in asymptomatic adults."

New Report Reiterates Need to Prescribe Antibiotics Appropriately

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a report(, "Principles of Judicious Antibiotic Prescribing for Bacterial Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Pediatrics," as part of the CDC's Get Smart About Antibiotics Week(, Nov. 18-24. The report amplifies earlier AAP guidance and promotes responsible antibiotic prescribing for three common upper respiratory tract infections in children: ear infections, sinus infections and sore throats.

The AAFP has collaborated extensively with the CDC in producing materials for the agency's Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work( Various print and online materials are available from the CDC website.

A key message being promoted to health care professionals in conjunction with the report's release is to observe the following three important principles of responsible antibiotic use:

  • Determine the likelihood of a bacterial infection: Antibiotics should not be used for viral diagnoses when a concurrent bacterial infection has been reasonably excluded.
  • Weigh benefits versus harms of antibiotics: Symptom reduction and prevention of complications should be weighed against the risk for side effects and resistance, as well as cost.
  • Implement accurate prescribing strategies: Select an appropriate antibiotic at the appropriate dose for the shortest duration required.

In addition, the Global Network of Science Academies and the InterAcademy Medical Panel have issued a joint call for action( to combat antimicrobial resistance. According to a release that accompanied the statement(, the two groups have proposed a series of 10 recommendations aimed at reducing the current incidence of resistance and avoiding a "much worse crisis." A commentary on the statement( also was published online by The Lancet: Global Health.

2014 Medicare Fee Schedule Topic of Next CMS Open Door Forum

CMS is holding a Physicians, Nurses and Allied Health Professional Open Door Forum( on Dec. 3 from 2-3 p.m. ET. According to an agenda for the call(, topics will include, ordering and referring, and the 2014 Medicare physician fee schedule.

Those who wish to participate in the call should dial (800) 837-1935. The conference identification number is 14940965, and CMS asks that participants dial in at least 15 minutes before the start of call.

The final Medicare physician fee schedule is due to be released before the call, and, according to the current agenda, topics pertaining to the fee schedule that will be discussed include payment policy and rate issues, the Physician Compare website, value-based modifiers, electronic health records, and the Physician Quality Reporting System. The call also will include an open question-and-answer session.

CMS to Host Dec. 5 Webinar on 2014 eHealth Program Milestones

Eligible health care professionals can get an update on electronic health program details for the coming year by joining the next CMS eHealth webinar(, to be held Dec. 5 from 12-1:30 p.m. ET. The webinar will help participants prepare for major eHealth deadlines, transition milestones and benchmarks in 2014.

During the event, CMS experts will outline key dates and other information about eHealth programs such as the agency's electronic health records incentive programs, ICD-10 and the Physician Quality Reporting System.

The Dec. 5 event is part of a series of eHealth webinars( that aim to educate the health care community about the eHealth programs and resources available. Space is limited, so don't delay registering for the webinar.