Administration Launches Organ Donation Initiative
On December 15, Vice President Albert Gore announced a series of new Administration initiatives to increase organ donation. Gore was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala at a Washington, D.C., event. He highlighted the development of a series of partnerships to promote organ donation and specifically noted that the American Academy of Family Physicians has made a new commitment to encourage physicians to make organ donation materials available in their offices and to discuss donation with their patients. In a press statement, AAFP President Neil H. Brooks, M.D., Rockville, Conn., noted “Because family physicians are trained to take care of patients over time, from birth to death, in the hospital as well as out, we are frequently in the best position to enhance communication among members of the patient's family and other members of the care delivery team. Thus, it is our privilege to partner with Secretary Shalala on this important initiative.” Vice President Gore also unveiled a new proposed Medicare regulation for hospitals to ensure that the families of potential donors are asked to consider donation. In addition, he noted that HHS will hold a National Research Conference on organ and tissue donation in the spring of 1998 to discuss the best practices for increasing organ donation.
AAFP Is Recognized as a Strong Lobbying Organization on Capitol Hill
The December 8, 1997, issue of Fortune Magazine lists the American Academy of Family Physicians among the strongest lobbying organizations on Capitol Hill. In an article titled “Washington's Power 25,” Fortune reports on a survey of nearly 2,200 Washington insiders, including members of Congress and Administration officials. In the survey, the AAFP is ranked 117th. Other medical organizations on the list include the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Physician Panel Reports Most Persons Benefit from Use of Air Bags
An expert panel of physicians representing leading medical organizations, including AAFP, has concluded that “the vast majority of persons, especially if properly restrained, are likely to benefit from the presence of an air bag as a supplemental restraint.” The 17-person panel, which met at the George Washington University Medical Center (GWUMC) in Washington, D.C., examined 21 medical conditions, including angina, breast reconstruction, back or neck surgery, osteogenesis imperfecta and pregnancy, and concluded that, for most (but not all) of the medical conditions, disconnecting the air bag would pose a risk. “While there is considerable need for more research, the evidence to date clearly supports the continued use of air bags for most Americans,” said Tilman Jolly, M.D., director of injury prevention research at the Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine and moderator of the panel.
The panel was convened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Reagan Institute, with the assistance of the National Crash Analysis Center. Leah Raye Mabry, M.D., Pleasanton, Tex., represented the AAFP on the panel. Copies of the report may be obtained by calling the GWUMC Office of Public Relations at 202-496-8499. It is also on the GWUMC Web page at http://www.gwu.edu/~gwumc/airbagrpt.html.
Family Physician Will Head the New AHCPR Center
Douglas Kamerow, M.D., M.P.H., Washington, D.C., a family physician and former associate editor of American Family Physician, will head the new Center for Practice and Technology Assessment (CPTA) of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), which will oversee the agency's evidence-based practice program. The new center is the result of the consolidation of two existing components of the AHCPR—the Center for Health Care Technology and the Office of the Forum for Quality and Effectiveness in Health Care. The new center will focus on closing the gap between what is known and what is done to help improve the quality of health care. CPTA's major activities will include: producing evidence-based reports and technology assessments, principally through the 12 evidence-based practice centers of the AHCPR; facilitating the development and operation of an Internet-based national guideline clearinghouse; and coordinating the work of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. CPTA will also conduct and support research on the implementation of evidence-based recommendations into the health care delivery system and on the methodologic aspects of this work.
Dr. Kamerow has been serving as director of the AHCPR's Office of the Forum for Quality and Effectiveness in Health Care as well as acting director of the Center for Health Care Technology. He also has been promoted to the rank of assistant surgeon general in the Public Health Service's Commissioned Corps. More information about the AHCPR can be obtained on its Web site at http://www.ahcpr.gov.
NCQA Releases HEDIS 3.0/1998
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has issued HEDIS 3.0/1998, an update to the existing Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS 3.0) that will further standardize and clarify health plan performance measurement. While no new measures are introduced in HEDIS 3.0/1998, many existing measures have been clarified and one, “Treating Children's Ear Infections,” has been moved from the Reporting Set into the Testing Set. Currently, there are 56 measures in the Reporting Set and 30 measures in the Testing Set. To order HEDIS 3.0/1998, call the NCQA Publications Center at 800-839-6487. The NCQA is a non-profit watchdog organization of the nation's managed care organizations. More than three fourths of Americans enrolled in HMOs are in plans that have been reviewed by NCQA.