AAFP Supports the FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is one of 46 organizations that signed onto an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting the right of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the sale and promotion of tobacco products to minors.
Sent forward to the court in July, the brief seeks to overturn a 1998 Fourth Circuit Court ruling that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does not allow the FDA to have this authority. Other physician organizations, as well as groups representing public health advocates, consumers and other health care professionals, signed onto the brief. A decision by the Supreme Court is expected either this year or in 2000.
Links to State Legislative Web Sites Are Available on the AAFP Web Site
The AAFP recently added a link to its Government Affairs page on the AAFP Web site that will allow members to access all state legislative Web sites available on the Internet. The site is sponsored by the Council of State Governments and can be accessed at https://www.aafp.org/gov/.
Funding for AHCPR Is Headed for Reauthorization
Federal support for primary care research took another step forward in early August when the Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives unanimously passed AAFP-supported legislation to reauthorize the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR). The Senate had previously included virtually identical language in a bill making managed care reforms.
Both the House and Senate measures include a new section on primary care research and establish the Center for Primary Care Research in Law for the first time. The AAFP worked closely with sponsors of the measures to draft the primary care research provisions. Action on these bills is expected in late September.
AHCPR Online Service Answers Questions About Hospital Care
The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has launched a free interactive online service—HCUPnet—that permits individuals to send questions about inpatient hospital care and immediately receive answers. Sections on the site cover inpatient care, charges, quality of care, patient outcomes and access to care. Users can choose specific conditions, disease groups or procedures and then ask for information relating to their choice, such as length of stay and total charges. The data source for HCUPnet is the 1996 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. NIS contains information from roughly 6.5 million hospital stays at over 900 hospitals. The new service can be accessed online through AHCPR's Web site at http://www.ahcpr.gov. For more information or to access HCUPnet, visit AHCPR's Web site or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Board of Family Practice Elects Three New Directors
The American Board of Family Practice has elected three new directors who will each serve terms of five years. The new directors are Ronald E. Christensen, M.D.; Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H.; and Joseph E. Scherger, M.D., M.P.H. Dr. Christensen is a community preceptor for the Alaska Family Practice Residency Program and also has a private practice in Anchorage, Alaska. Dr. Parisi specializes in maternal fetal medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Scherger serves as professor and chair in the Department of Family Medicine, University of California at Irvine, UCI Medical Center.
New Joint Commission Standards Focus on Pain Management
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has developed new standards for the assessment and management of pain in accredited hospitals and other health care settings. These standards were endorsed by the American Pain Society. The new standards explicitly acknowledge that pain is a co-existing condition with a number of diseases and injuries, and requires explicit attention. The standards state, “Hospitals, home care agencies, nursing homes, behavioral health facilities, outpatient clinics and health plans will be asked to: recognize the right of patients to appropriate assessment and management of pain; assess the existence and, if so, the nature and intensity of pain in all patients; record the results of the assessment in a way that facilitates regular reassessment and follow-up; determine and assure staff competency in pain assessment and management, and address pain assessment and management in the orientation of all new staff; establish policies and procedures which support the appropriate prescription or ordering of effective pain medications; educate patients and their families about effective pain management; and address patient needs for symptom management in the discharge planning process.” More information about the JCAHO pain management standards can be found on the JCAHO Web site at http://www.jcaho.org.