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Am Fam Physician. 1999;60(2):375-376

Family Physicians Urge Congress to Enact Patient Protections

In a letter sent to all members of the Senate on July 8, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) urged support of legislative provisions to protect patients. Emphasizing inclusiveness, the AAFP called for expanding legislation to cover all health plans, not just those governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The AAFP also called for gag clause protections to cover all physician-patient communication, prevention of retaliation by health plans toward physicians who advocate on behalf of their patients within a health plan or before an external review entity, and the right of court recourse for patients seeking enforcement of external review decisions. Additionally, the AAFP is asking Congress to assure that family physicians, who see one out of every four women in the United States for their health care needs and one out of every five children, be included in provisions ensuring access to obstetricians/gynecologists and pediatricians.

JCAHO Announces Hospital Core Measurement Priority Areas

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has approved the following five focus areas for initial development of core sets of performance measures: acute myocardial infarction; congestive heart failure; pneumonia; surgical procedures and complications; and pregnancy and related conditions. The consensus determination was based on input from interested parties, such as hospitals, purchasers, consumer groups, state medical societies and other professional organizations. The JCAHO intends to require the use of core performance measures as an integral part of the hospital accreditation process in the future. Content and methodologic experts will serve on clinical advisory panels for each of the focus areas. For more information about core measurement priority areas, call the JCAHO at 630-792-3200.

NCI Initiates Study of New Therapy for Colorectal Cancer

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has initiated a large multicenter study that will evaluate two promising drugs for the treatment of patients with advanced (metastatic or recurrent) colorectal cancer. The study will be conducted in numerous medical centers throughout the United States and Canada, and will enroll about 1,700 patients. The Cooperative Colorectal Cancer Combination Chemotherapy Clinical (6C) Trial will study CPT-11 and oxaliplatin as initial therapy for advanced colorectal cancer. “These are the first new drugs we have had to treat colorectal cancer in many years,” said Barbara Conley, M.D., of the NCI's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, “and this will be the first large, randomized North American study to evaluate both of these new agents. The results may move the treatment of colorectal cancer a significant step forward.” For more information, patients and physicians may call 800-4-CANCER or check the NCI Web site at

Kansas Physician Is Named 1999 Rural Health Practitioner of the Year

Richard V. Ohmart, M.D., Oakley, Kan., was named Rural Health Practitioner of the Year at the 22nd Annual Conference of the National Rural Health Association in San Diego. Dr. Ohmart has served the rural northwest Kansas town of Oakley for 36 years. For almost 20 of those 36 years, he was the only doctor in the town of 2,100 people—at one time for a period of almost 10 years. He is also a preceptor at his alma mater, the University of Kansas School of Medicine, for a program in which senior medical students spend time in rural communities. In addition to his professional work, Dr. Ohmart is active in his community and devotes time to his hobbies of photography and writing. His writing has appeared in JAMA, American Medical News, Medical Economics, American Family Physician and Kansas Medicine. Currently, Dr. Ohmart continues to practice family medicine and is director of education for northwest Kansas with the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Recipients of five other national awards presented at the conference were Dennis P. DeGross, Anchorage, Alaska, the Louis Gorin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Health Care; Shackelford County Community Resource Center, Shackelford County, Texas, Outstanding Rural Health Practice; Bladen Rural Health Network, Bladen County, N.C., Outstanding Rural Health Program; Charles G. Stephens, M.D., Wichita, Kan., Distinguished Educator Award; and Lanis L. Hicks, Ph.D., Columbia, Mo., Distinguished Researcher Award.

NCI Publishes a Blueprint of A New System for Clinical Trials

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has launched a detailed profile of its new clinical trials system, giving researchers insight into the framework that changes dramatically the way NCI's large, multicentered treatment trials are proposed, reviewed and coordinated. The new system is designed to open NCI-sponsored trials to new ideas and new participants. A booklet about the new system, “Clinical Trials: a Blueprint for the Future,” is available free of charge by sending an e-mail request to Jana Johnston at or by calling NCI's Cancer Information Service at 800-4-CANCER. More information about clinical trials can be found on the Web site of the NCI at

AAFP Recommends That Physicians Postpone Using Rotavirus Vaccine

On July 15, the AAFP issued a statement recommending that physicians postpone administering the rotavirus vaccine to infants until additional information about potential side effects of the vaccine can be obtained. The AAFP said that new information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a possible increased rate of intussusception in infants who have received rotavirus immunization, compared with those who have not been given the vaccine. “Our foremost concern is the health of the infant. Rotavirus usually occurs in the winter. At this time, there is more risk in giving the vaccine than holding off until we have more information,” said Lanny Copeland, AAFP president.

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Copyright © 1999 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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