News in Brief: Week of Nov. 10-14

November 11, 2014 01:46 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

USPSTF Says Benefits of Thyroid Screening Unclear

Researchers for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) have suggested that more research is needed to determine the benefits of screening asymptomatic individuals for thyroid dysfunction. Accordingly, the task force has issued a draft recommendation statement( noting that the "evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for thyroid dysfunction in nonpregnant asymptomatic adults."

In an evidence review published Oct. 28 in the Annals of Internal Medicine,( researchers reported their assessment of randomized controlled trials and observational studies of screening and treatment published through July. They found an estimated 5 percent of women and 3 percent of men in the United States have undiagnosed thyroid dysfunction, and about 0.5 percent of the population may have undiagnosed overt thyroid disease. No trials, however, directly assessed the benefits and harms of screening versus not screening.

The draft recommendation statement on screening for thyroid dysfunction is available on the USPSTF website for public comment through Nov. 24.

"Drink More Water," Kidney Stone Guideline Recommends

About 13 percent of men and 7 percent of women in the United States will develop a kidney stone during their lifetime. Without treatment, as many as half of those people will have a recurrence within five years.

Published Nov. 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a new evidence-based guideline( from the American College of Physicians offers recommendations for people who have previously experienced nephrolithiasis, or kidney stones. Researchers reviewed literature( published from 1948 to March of this year to inform the guideline.

The group recommended that patients who have had kidney stones should increase their fluid intake to achieve at least 2 liters of urine per day to prevent a recurrence (Grade: weak recommendation; low-quality evidence). If increased fluid intake fails to reduce the formation of stones, medication or dietary changes may help.

To that end, evidence supports the use of medications such as thiazide diuretics, citrate or allopurinol, said the researchers (Grade: weak recommendation; moderate-quality evidence). Reducing dietary oxalate (found in chocolate, beets, nuts, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, tea and wheat bran), reducing dietary animal protein and purines, and maintaining normal dietary calcium may also help prevent stone recurrence. In addition, evidence shows that patients who decrease their intake of soda that has been acidified by phosphoric acid (found in colas) reduce their risk for kidney stone recurrence.

Million Hearts Website Introduces Healthy Lifestyle Center

The Million Hearts( campaign, a national initiative supported by HHS that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, recently introduced an addition to its website dubbed the Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Resource Center.(

Family physicians may want to check out the free resource and encourage their patients to hop online to access heart-healthy recipes, download easy-to-follow meal plans and read stories about others' successful heart-healthy journeys.

National Health IT Certification Body Suspends Operations

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) recently announced that it would cease operations on Nov. 14. For nearly 10 years, CCHIT provided certification services for health IT products and services.

According to an Oct. 28 press release,( the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT named CCHIT an authorized certification body and testing laboratory in 2010.

In the release, CCHIT Executive Director Alisa Ray cited the slow pace of certification for 2014 Edition technology as well as "unreliable timing of future federal health IT program requirements" as reasons for shuttering the doors.