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Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(12):2749-2750

Robert Graham Center Releases Study of Medical Errors Based on Malpractice Cases

The Robert Graham Center: Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care in Washington, D.C., studied malpractice claims based on medical errors made by primary care physicians. The study covered 5,921 claims involving medical negligence that occurred between 1985 and 2000 in the United States and the United Kingdom. Of those claims, 68 percent involved negligent events in outpatient settings and resulted in more than 1,200 deaths. The most prominent medical conditions associated with negligent, adverse events were acute myocardial infarction, lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. The study, “Learning from Malpractice Claims About Negligent, Adverse Events in Primary Care in the United States,” was published in the April edition of Quality and Safety in Health Care.

Guideline on Otitis Media with Effusion Urges Watchful Waiting

The AAFP, AAP, and American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) have published a new guideline on otitis media with effusion. According to the guideline, physicians should wait at least three months before actively treating otitis media with effusion in children. It also states that physicians should use pneumatic otoscopy as a primary diagnostic method for otitis media with effusion and document the laterality, duration of effusion, and presence of symptoms at each assessment. The majority of otitis media with effusion cases resolve without care within three months. The guideline was published in the May issue of Pediatrics and is available online at A summary of the guideline and accompanying editorial appears in this issue of AFP on page 2929 and page 2776, respectively. A guideline from the AAFP, AAP, and AAO-HNS on acute otitis media also is available online at A summary of the acute otitis media guideline and an accompanying editorial appear in the June 1 issue of AFP.

CDC Launches Autism Awareness Campaign

The CDC is launching a consumer campaign to increase awareness and action in identifying children at risk for autism and other developmental disorders. The campaign aims to help parents identify signs of developmental disorders earlier, including autism, hearing loss, and cerebral palsy. The earlier that children gain access to available services, the greater chance they have of reaching their full potential. Initial stages of the program will focus on educating health care professionals through exhibits at national and regional conferences, workshops and seminars, continuing education materials, and materials to share with parents. The campaign is a collaborative effort of the CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Autism Society of America, Cure Autism Now, Organization for Autism Research, and National Alliance for Autism Research. Screening guidelines developed to establish standard practices among physicians, simplification of the screening process, and assurance that all children receive routine and appropriate screenings and timely interventions are available online at or For resources on developmental delays, milestones, and warning signs, see the CDC’s autism and developmental activities online at

AAFP Releases Updated Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new immunization schedule for children and adolescents for July through December 2004. The 2004 schedule was updated because of the risk of influenza complications in young children. Beginning in the fall, the new recommendation is for children six to 23 months of age and their household and out-of-home caregivers to receive the influenza vaccine. The vaccine is not recommended for children younger than six months. The new immunization schedule is available online at More information is available online at

AAMC Report Examines Tuition and Debt Increases

In response to student concerns, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is addressing significant increases in medical school tuition and student debt during the past 20 years. The report, “Medical School Tuition and Young Physician Indebtedness,” released in April, called for establishment of a committee to explore ways to reduce education costs and increase the ability of graduates to repay debt during residency and early practice. The committee will include financial aid officers, student affairs officers, students, residents, and a medical economist. According to the report, graduates of public and private medical schools had a median amount of debt between $100,000 and $135,000. The complete report is available online at

AAFP Requests Input for Planning Annual Clinical Focus on Genomics

For 2005, the topic for AAFP’s annual clinical focus is genomics. The AAFP is working with the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health in developing the initiative. The program will include Web-based monthly programs with case-study presentations, question-and-answer sessions, and facilitated Web tours. Questions or comments about the curriculum can be sent by e-mail Medical specialty and any additional information about your practice that you would like to include (i.e., size, location, patient population, etc.) should be noted. More information about the initiative is available online at

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Copyright © 2004 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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