ABFP Web Site Provides Information on New Certification Program
The American Board of Family Practice (ABFP) recently announced the initiation of the ABFP Maintenance of Certification Program for Family Physicians (MC-FP). Maintenance of certification was mandated by the American Board of Medical Specialties to reassure the American public about the quality of physicians in the United States in every specialty. In keeping with that directive, ABFP developed the MC-FP program to assure the public that its certified family physicians have the necessary training, education, and experience to provide medical care to individual patients and their families, and that these standards are maintained throughout the physicians' years of practice. Under this program, ABFP diplomates will be required to successfully complete the following four components to maintain certification with the ABFP: (1) evidence of professional standing; (2) lifelong learning and self-assessment; (3) cognitive expertise; and (4) evaluation/enhancement of practice performance. A detailed explanation of how the new system will work for family physicians is available online atwww.abfp.org/mc-fp.htm. Answers to frequently asked questions about MC-FP are available atwww.abfp.org/faq-mcfp.htm. Also on the ABFP Web site atwww.abfp.org/cbt.htm is information about the board's new computerized testing format, which was officially launched in July and will be phased in over the next several years to replace the current paper-and-pencil examination. The page includes a link to frequently asked questions about the computer-based testing system.
AAFP Adopts Influenza Vaccine Policy Consistent with ACIP
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has adopted new recommendations for immunizing persons against influenza that follow those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). For the 2003–4 influenza season, the AAFP recommends that individuals in the following groups be immunized against influenza as soon as the vaccine is available: (1) persons at increased risk for complications from influenza; (2) persons who can transmit influenza to those at high risk; (3) persons 50 to 64 years of age; and (4) any person who wishes to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with influenza. Previously, when supplies of the influenza vaccine were limited, the AAFP recommended prioritizing the administration of the vaccine to individuals at high risk for complications from this infection and to persons who might transmit influenza to those at high risk. The CDC recently announced that there should be a sufficient supply of the influenza vaccine for the 2003–4 season. The AAFP's new influenza vaccine policy is available online atwww.aafp.org/x14093.xml. The ACIP statements are available atwww.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5233a6.htm. The CDC also has a Web site that provides the latest influenza news and links to influenza resources atwww.cdc.gov/nip/flu/news.htm#reports.
CMS Improves and Expands Medicare Web Site for Health Care Professionals
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has expanded its Web site,www.cms.hhs.gov, to make it easier and quicker for health care professionals to access valuable information for serving their Medicare beneficiaries. The Web site currently has pages designed specifically for physicians, hospitals, acute inpatient hospitals, critical access hospitals, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, outpatient hospitals, home health agencies, and ambulance services companies. Each of these pages contains links to information related to specialized areas, such as training and educational activities, federal regulations and notices, and program memoranda. General information links to open-door forums, program integrity, Medicare conditions of participation, and other subjects also are available. Currently, CMS is developing pages for ambulatory surgical centers, durable medical equipment, federally qualified health centers, rural health facilities, hospice programs, and skilled nursing facilities.
IOM Publishes Booklet on Improving Palliative Care for Patients with Cancer
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released a booklet that summarizes the recommendations of the IOM 2001 report “Improving Palliative Care for Cancer.” The new booklet, “Improving Palliative Care: We Can Take Better Care of People With Cancer,” describes the types of comfort care that should be available for people dying of cancer, the symptoms of patients with cancer, the special needs of children with cancer, reasons why some people do not get the care they need, and ways individuals and society can improve access to palliative care. Some of the recommendations include the following: providing better palliative care training for health care professionals; adopting standards for palliative care; improving access to palliative care; and increasing funding for palliative care research and training. The booklet can be viewed online atwww.nap.edu/catalog/10790.html.
Report Shows Continued Decline in Death Rates from Four Leading Cancers
According to data from a new report, the death rates from the four most common cancers (lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal) continued to decline in the late 1990s both nationally and in most states. This report contained the following findings: the death rate from lung cancer continued to decline among white and black men; the death rates from breast cancer continued to decline despite a gradual, long-term increase in the rate of new diagnoses; prostate cancer death rates have been declining since 1994, but incidence rates have been increasing since 1995; and colorectal cancer death rates have been declining for both blacks and whites. The report, titled “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975–2000,” concluded that further reductions in cancer can be achieved through strong federal, state, local, and private partnerships that apply evidence-based cancer control measures. The report was produced by the CDC, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the National American Association of Central Cancer. Additional information on this report is available online atwww.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/2003ReportRelease.