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NIH Deputy Director Dr. Sally Rockey on Wednesday posted data concerning the NIH policy to sunset A2 (second amendment) grant applications. Dr. Rockey said, “Overall, these data indicate that the policy to sunset A2 applications continues to achieve the stated goals of enabling NIH to fund as much meritorious science as possible in as short a time period as possible. Any revision to the policy to allow additional resubmissions of all or a subset of A2 applications will displace equally meritorious A0 and A1 applications, and increase the time to award for many applications. For these reasons, we have decided to continue the policy in its current form.”
The HHS Office for Civil Rights on Monday issued its ARRA-required guidance on methods for the de-identification of protected health information.
The Office of Management and Budget web site reported on Tuesday that the final regulations implementing the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, enacted as part of the health care reform legislation, are under OMB review. The delay in promulgating the final regulations has generated some concern on Capitol Hill and with affected parties.
Dr. Joseph E. Murray, who led the first successful human organ transplant, died on Monday in Boston. He was 93. In 1990, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was the director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School and at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, which is now Brigham and Women’s.
The Leapfrog Group has updated its hospital safety scores on its confidential website. The letter grades it has given specific hospitals are starting to appear in various media stories.
A commentary in the new issue of JAMA and a related IOM discussion paper discuss efforts to harmonize the reporting of potential COIs by developing a common disclosure process in the health care and life sciences.
The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Inc. (AAHRPP) has been celebrating its tenth anniversary. An essay in its current newsletter, the AAHRPP Advance, considers the goals and expectations for AAHRPP and the research enterprise over the next decade.
A commentary posted on-line by JAMA on Monday discusses “Biomedical Research in an Age of Austerity.” The authors, Drs. Hamilton Moses and E. Ray Dorsey of Johns Hopkins, discuss the current biomedical research funding situation and advocate for the creation of “Biomedical Research Bonds.” The authors conclude, “Sequestration could provide the impetus for changes that would reduce uncertainty and bolster investment. Regardless of what happens in the next few months, biomedical research must look to the private sector and not the federal government as the source of new funds. The paradox—and reason for optimism—is that the science has never been more promising.”
A second commentary, “Facing the NIH Funding Crisis: How Professional Societies Can Help,” was also released by JAMA on Monday. The article discusses the bridge funding program created by the American Society of Hematology. The authors urge industry to support the research workforce, but also suggest, “An even more potent way to leverage this approach would be if all medical societies agreed to support their own disciplines…If each medical society created a bridge program, the total financial support could be significant and could have a major influence on medical research.” The authors note that this is a short term approach and that “Appropriate increases in state and federal funding remain essential to maintain the excellence of medical research in this country and to enhance such research as an economic engine.”
The New York Times on Monday featured an article about the safety of bed rails. The Times reported “Data compiled by the [Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSDC)] from death certificates and hospital emergency room visits from 2003 through May 2012 shows that 150 mostly older adults died after they became trapped in bed rails. Over nearly the same time period, 36,000 mostly older adults — about 4,000 a year — were treated in emergency rooms with bed rail injuries.” Data compiled by the New York Times suggests the number of deaths may be significantly higher. CPSC and the FDA are reviewing their current standards for bed rails.
A research letter in the new issue of JAMA reports on trends in physician salaries. The letter reports, “Despite attention paid to higher earnings of physicians in the United States compared with other countries, physician earnings grew less than those of other health professionals in the last 15 years. Possible explanations include managed care growth, Medicaid payment cuts, sluggish Medicare payment growth, or bargaining by insurance companies. Despite lack of recent growth, physician earnings remain higher than other occupations.”
The Bloomberg news service distributed a story this weekend on the drop in private cardiologists. The American College of Cardiology reports that the number of cardiologists employed by U.S. hospitals has more than tripled, while the number of cardiologists in private practice has fallen by 23 percent since 2007. The change has largely been driven by Medicare reimbursement policies.
Dr. Virginia Moyer, chair of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), was interviewed in the new issue of the NCI Cancer Bulletin on the Task Force’s efforts to produce evidence-based recommendations about preventive health services, including cancer screening. Dr. Moyer is a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Stanford has posted a new podcast with Doug Owen MD, Director of Stanford’s Center for Health Policy. He discusses the USPSTF’s recommendation for universal screening for HIV. Dr. Owens is a member of the Task Force.
A series in the Philadelphia Inquirer focused on concussions in sport. The articles noted the role of medical school faculty in educating athletes and team officials to the risks.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer on Tuesday detailed the community benefits provided by some of Northeast Ohio’s non-profit health systems, including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. The reports filed by the hospitals show a significant increase in uncompensated or charity care.
Crain’s Chicago Business on Tuesday reported on recent litigation involving Chicago-area medical schools and hospitals involving residents.
The HHS Office of Human Research Protections has announced that the 2013 edition of “The International Compilation of Human Research Standards” is now available. The publication features a listing of over 1,000 laws, regulations, and guidelines on human subjects protections in 104 countries and from several international organizations. The Compilation is designed for use by IRBs, researchers, sponsors, and others. Many of the listings embed hyperlinks to the source document. One new country is featured in the 2013 Edition: Ecuador.
Tuesday’s New York Times featured a Kaiser Health Network story on hospital readmissions. The article reported, “The crackdown on readmissions is at the vanguard of the Affordable Care Act’s effort to eliminate unnecessary care and curb Medicare’s growing spending, which reached $556 billion this year. Hospital inpatient costs make up a quarter of that spending and are projected to grow by more than 4 percent annually in coming years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The readmission penalties will recoup about $300 million this year. But the goal is to pressure hospitals to pay attention to what happens to their patients after they walk out the door. The penalties have captured the attention of hospitals, and many are trying to improve their supervision of discharged patients’ recoveries.”
The PhRMA Foundation has established a new program to support scientists in the field of Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (TMT). By distributing annual funds of up to $350,000 through Research Starter Grants and Postdoctoral Fellowships, the program aims to build a cadre of highly trained and qualified TMT investigators. Applications must be received by February 1, 2013.
Dr. Steven Rasmussen has been named the new chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, beginning Jan. 1. Brown announced the appointment, made jointly with Lifespan and Care New England on Monday. As chair of the department, Dr. Rasmussen is also appointed the Mary E. Zucker Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. Dr. Rasmussen has served as interim chair of the department since 2009. He has been medical director of Butler hospital since 1998.
Deborah A. McGrew has been named COO of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. She is currently the associate vice president at the University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital.
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