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Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(6):1605-1606

President Clinton Calls for Action to Improve Patient Safety

On February 22, the Clinton Administration announced several initiatives to reduce medical errors. According to the Institute of Medicine, more than one half of adverse medical events result from preventable errors, causing up to 98,000 deaths per year and costing an estimated $29 billion annually. The President called for a new Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, with a proposed budget of $20 million. A new Medicare regulation will assure that all hospitals participating in Medicare implement patient safety programs, including new systems to decrease medication errors. Additionally, within one year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will develop new standards to help prevent medical errors caused by proprietary drug names and packaging that are easily confused with those of other drugs, and new label standards highlighting common drug interactions. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense have been directed to modernize patient safety systems to improve medication safety. The President also has called for a nationwide system of error reporting that will be state based, and when fully implemented, will require mandatory reporting of preventable medical errors that cause serious injury or death.

Number of AAFP Delegates to AMA House of Delegates Increases

The number of delegates from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association (AMA) has increased from nine in 1999 to 19 in 2000. The AAFP ranks fifth among delegations to the AMA in 2000. The four largest groups represent state medical societies. The AAFP has more delegates than any of the 97 other medical specialty societies in the AMA. The next largest specialty society delegation is from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which has 11 delegates. The AAFP is entitled to an equal number of alternates but may choose not to send its full number of alternates to AMA meetings. More information on the AMA delegates may be obtained on the AAFP Web site ( or on the Web site of the AMA (

‘Healthy People 2010’ Initiative to Guide Prevention Agenda for Next Ten Years

In January, Donna Shalala, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher launched “Healthy People 2010,” the nation's health goals for this decade. Healthy People 2010 contains broad-reaching national health goals focusing on two major themes: increasing the quality and years of healthy life, and the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in health status. Many of the objectives of the initiative target interventions designed to reduce or eliminate illness, disability and premature death. Others target broader issues, such as improving access to quality health care, strengthening public health services, and improving the availability and dissemination of health-related information. A new national health assessment tool called the nation's “Leading Health Indicators” was also unveiled. The 10 leading health indicators are physical activity, overweight and obesity, tobacco use, substance abuse, mental health, injury and violence, environmental quality, immunization, responsible sexual behavior and access to health care. These health indicators are supported by measurable objectives that reflect the influence of behavioral and environmental factors and community health interventions. By monitoring these measures, states and communities can assess their current health status and follow it over time.

Online information and resources for the initiative are located at To order “Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health,” call 202-512-1800 and refer to order no. 017-001-00543-6.

Report Shows Childhood Anxiety Disorders Are Underdiagnosed and Undertreated

A report from the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) shows that, despite a widespread prevalence, childhood anxiety disorders remain vastly underdiagnosed, undertreated and understudied. Childhood anxiety disorders include separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. The report, “Conference on Treating Anxiety Disorders in Youth: Current Problems and Future Solutions,” was the result of an expert working conference cosponsored by the ADAA and NIMH. Action items highlighted in the report for future research include the following: improve diagnostic categories to better capture the clinical picture of anxiety disorders in children; expand the number and type of study designs for research on behavioral and pharmacologic treatments; and conduct research on risk factors, such as family history and parenting behavior. The report can be found on the ADAA Web site at

HHS Awards $527 Million for HIV/AIDS Care in High-Incidence Areas

HHS Secretary Donna Shalala has announced $527 million in Ryan White CARE Act grants to fund primary health care and support services for low-income individuals in 51 eligible metropolitan areas with the most number of cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). “Since the CARE Act passed in 1990, individuals and families nationwide have obtained needed primary care and related services through this federal grant program,” said Claude Earl Fox, M.D., M.P.H., administrator of HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees the CARE Act through its HIV/AIDS Bureau. Since the CARE Act was first funded in 1991, nearly $6.4 billion has been appropriated. The four communities receiving the largest awards are New York City ($107,560,148); San Francisco ($35,246,477); Los Angeles ($34,683,327) and Miami ($23,450,383).

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Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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