IOM Report Targets 20 Key Areas for Transforming Health Care System
A new report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, “Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality,” lists 20 priority areas for government agencies and private organizations to focus on to help produce major improvements in health care quality and delivery for all Americans. The areas, which range from broad interventions to preventive services to palliative care for the dying, were selected based on the following three selection criteria: (1) the breadth of impact on patients, families, and communities; (2) improvability, or the likelihood of closing large quality gaps; and (3) inclusiveness, which deals with the diversity of people affected. The committee did not rank the priority areas, which are: asthma; care coordination; children with special health care needs; diabetes; end of life with advanced organ system failure; evidence-based cancer screening; frailty associated with old age; hypertension; immunization; ischemic heart disease; major depression; medication management; nosocomial infections; obesity; pain control in advanced cancer; pregnancy and childbirth; self-management/health literacy; severe and persistent mental illness; stroke; and tobacco-dependence treatment in adults. The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Copies of the report may be obtained online at http://books.nap.edu/catalog/10593.html.
New AHRQ Fact Sheet Provides Tips for Preventing Medical Errors in Children
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a new fact sheet called “20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors in Children,” which provides practical tips and information about preventing medical errors related to prescription medicines, hospital stays, and surgery in children. The fact sheet encourages parents and physicians to discuss medication dosages, possible side effects, and any limits on food, drink, or activities that may be required when a child takes a particular medicine. The fact sheet is available on the AHRQ Web site at www.ahrq.gov/consumer/20tipkid.htm or on the AAP Web site at www.aap.org/visit/qualityimp.htm. It also can be obtained by calling AHRQ's Publications Clearinghouse at 800-358-9295.
CDC Report Indicates Continued Decline in Number of Uninsured Children
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson recently released preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) National Health Interview Survey that showed that the proportion of uninsured children in the United States continued to decrease in the first half of 2002. In 1997, 13.9 percent of children aged 17 years and under in the United States were without health insurance, compared with 9.8 percent in the first half of 2002. Secretary Thompson credited part of this decline to the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was created in 1997 to help children without insurance. In fiscal year 2001, there were 4.6 million children enrolled in SCHIP at some point. The percentage of children relying on public programs for health coverage increased to 27.2 percent from 23.4 percent in 2001. Overall, 14.2 percent (39.4 million persons) of the U.S. population was without health insurance coverage in the first half of 2002, which was comparable with 2001. Adults aged 18 to 64 years were more likely to be uninsured than seniors or children. The report also listed that in 2002, 4.5 percent of the population were unable to obtain necessary medical care because of financial barriers. For more information on this report, visit the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov.
Deadline for Medicare Participation Forms Is Feb. 28
According to instructions from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the deadline for physicians to enroll as participating or nonparticipating physicians in Medicare has been extended to Feb. 28. To view your Medicare participation options, go online to www.aafp.org/mcareoptions.xml. To see the instructions Medicare issued to its carriers, go online to www.cms.hhs.gov/manuals/pm_trans/ab02181.pdf. The Medicare reimbursement cut of 4.4 percent for 2003 will take effect March 1. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and other medical organizations are urging Congress to retract or reduce the payment cut, but it is unknown at this time whether Congress will take such action.
2004 WONCA World Conference Web Site Updated
The AAFP has updated the World Organization of Family Doctors' (WONCA) Web site for the 17th World Conference of Family Doctors, to be held in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 13–17, 2004. The Web site, www.wonca2004.org, includes a schedule, registration materials, a scientific program, hotel information, and contact information. Topics of oral presentation and posters presented by family physicians include acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, bioterrorism, smoking cessation, infectious diseases, ethical issues, health policy, rural and frontier medicine, and common medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, mental health, and cancer. The conference is being held in conjunction with the 2004 annual Scientific Assembly of the AAFP. The Assembly registration fee will cover both meetings, except for AAFP extra-fee courses.
AAFP Unveils Paintings of Two Former Executive Vice Presidents
The AAFP recently unveiled two paintings of former executive vice presidents (EVPs) Robert Graham, M.D., and the late R. Michael Miller, J.D. Dr. Graham, who served as EVP from 1985 to 2000, is currently the acting deputy director of the AHRQ and director of the AHRQ's Center for Practice and Technology Assessment. Miller, a long-time AAFP staff member, served as acting EVP from 1984 to 1985. He died Oct. 8, 2000. The portraits have been hung outside the AAFP's boardroom near portraits of previous EVPs at the AAFP headquarters in Leawood, Kan. To view photos of the unveiling event, go online to www.aafp.org/x16666.xml.