December 7, 2012
By Sarah Kitchell*
Study: Provider-Patient Communication Breakdowns Lead to Discharge Medication Errors
FierceHealthcare (12/4) reports on a recent Yale-New Haven Hospital study that found that more than 80% of elderly patients with heart conditions or pneumonia "experienced a provider error" such as receiving the wrong prescription at discharge (24%) or had lacked knowledge about medication changes (60%). The article notes that "better communication between providers and pharmacies" and use of electronic medical records could bring improvements and urged providers to educate patients about their medications.
Tax-Exempt Healthcare Providers Urge IRS to Ease Patient Financial Assistance Requirements
BNA Health Care Daily Report (12/6) reports that at a hearing on December 5, several tax-exempt hospitals and other healthcare providers urged the Internal Revenue Service to "lighten the burden imposed . . . by far-reaching requirements" of the proposed rules under the Affordable Care Act, such as requirements for patient financial assistance policies, limitations on ability to take certain collection actions, and making "reasonable efforts" to identify patients' ability to pay. Stakeholders argued that these rules are "overly prescriptive" and do not offer hospitals flexibility to do such things as sell debt and work with patients to provide financial assistance; however, patient advocacy groups argued that the rules are necessary to protect vulnerable populations. (Note: registration is required to access this article.)
Effects of Faculty Disclosures of Industry Contacts to Medical Students Studied
MedPage Today (12/4) reports on a survey that found that medical students were more likely to support a conflict of interest disclosure policy requiring faculty members to mention contacts with pharmaceutical companies and device companies prior to lectures. The survey showed that the same group of students was not more likely to feel that "their instructors or educational content [was] influenced by industry" following such a disclosure, however. Study authors supported implementation of a conflict-of-interest disclosure policy as good public policy and useful training of students toward "industry prescribing" without affecting education.
FDA Touts Near-Record Numbers of New Drug Approvals
The Wall Street Journal (12/5) reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved thirty-one new types of drugs, including drugs for conditions such as human immunodeficiency virus, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and its "first weight-loss drug approved in more than a decade." The article cited an FDA report that showed, "based on a broader definition of what counts as a new drug," the agency had approved thirty-five new drugs in fiscal year 2012. The article noted that the FDA has, in this year, "already approved the most new medicines since 2004," when the agency approved thirty-six new drugs. The article's author indicated that one reason for this increase in approval activity is the quicker pace of development of new drugs by pharmaceutical companies. (Note: registration is required to access this article.)
*We would like to thank Sarah Kitchell, Esquire (McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Boston, MA), for providing this week's update.