March 1, 2013
By Sarah Kitchell*
AAMC Warns Sequestration Cuts Will Jeopardize Teaching Hospitals' Research, Patient Care
FierceHealthcare (2/26) reported on a recent report issued by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). AAMC report argued that if Congress does not work to prevent the sequestration, resulting 2% cuts in Medicare reimbursement will "disproportionately impact the nation's medical schools and teaching hospitals and the patients they serve," said Darrell Kirsch, AAMC president and chief executive officer. The report outlines other areas where sequestration will affect teaching hospitals, such as decreases in National Institutes of Health funding and professional training programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The article noted that teaching hospitals and physicians in training provide a large proportion of charity care and are sites for "groundbreaking medical research and procedures" that could be affected by Congress' inaction.
Report: African-American Men Underrepresented in Medical Education
Amednews.com (2/25) reported on a long term trend of a decreasing share of African American men applying for medical schools. A recent report issued by the Association of American Medical Colleges noted that only "2.5% of medical applicants were black men in 2011, a drop from 2.6% in 2002." Experts note that this trend is problematic because it could "exacerbate racial health disparities and doctor shortages" in the future, according to the article. The article explained several initiatives to encourage diversity in medical schools and support for math and science programs in early education among underrepresented groups.
Drug Reps Skirt Medical School Conflicts of Interest Policies, Gifts to Students Still Common
The Boston Globe (2/28) reported on a study conducted by Harvard Medical School researchers that found that one-third of first-year medical students and nearly 80% of third-year students responded that they had received a gift from a pharmaceutical company representative within the past year. The article noted "students who attend schools with more comprehensive [conflict of interest] policies . . . were no less likely to have contacts with salespeople." Study authors cautioned medical school administrators to ensure that policies are implemented appropriately in all interactions between students and drug company representatives.
Study: Errors Common in Primary Care Diagnoses
Modern Healthcare (2/25) reported on a recent study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine that found "missed, incorrect, or delayed diagnoses" were most common in primary care settings. According to study authors, "most process breakdowns were related to the clinical encounter, wherein practitioners are almost always pressed for time." Failure to review or correctly capture a patient's medical history was found to have caused more than 78% of the errors identified in the study. Study authors warned that process errors like these will continue as long as providers are "pressured to keep visits short and make decisions quickly." (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.