It's Getting Rough Out There
A series of recent news items have disturbing implications for CME. Item: Physicians in West Virginia are abandoning obstetrics and neurosurgery — or retiring from medicine altogether — rather than pay sky-high malpractice insurance premiums.
Item: Vermont has become the first state in the nation to require pharmaceutical companies to disclose gifts and cash payments valued at $25 or more to physicians and other healthcare providers.
Item: According to IMS Health, a market research firm, the pharmaceutical industry spent $19 billion on advertising and promotion in 2001.
Item: The New England Journal of Medicine has had to relax its strict conflict-of-interest rules for article authors because it can't find enough writers with no financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.
What's it all mean? As physicians are financially squeezed, big pharmaceutical firms have increasing power to influence them, and the public is watching. It is going to be tougher than ever for CME providers to hang on to their integrity and credibility in the face of pharmaceutical firms' willingness to lay out large sums for marketing and the willingness of physicians to accept that largesse.
Yet in the end, integrity and credibility are what CME providers have to offer. Let's hope the new marketing ethics standards from the pharmaceutical industry will help ease the pressure.
I Want My HDTV
Zale Lipshy University Hospital, part of the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, has installed a 50-inch high-definition television (HDTV) screen in one of its operating rooms. The $40,000 screen's primary mission is to let the entire operating room surgical team see what surgeons see, even during the microsurgical portion of an operation. As a result, it is easier for nurses to anticipate physicians' needs during surgery, and assisting surgeons have a clearer picture of the ongoing status of a patient. Not surprisingly, the device may also bring a whole new level of detail to grand rounds CME.
The hospital plans to install two more HDTV screens in neurosurgery operating rooms.
A Heartbeat Away
Increased research, education, and funding will improve the treatment of people who experience cardiac arrest, according to a report by resuscitation experts published in the May 28 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The report from the PULSE conference (Post-Resuscitative and Initial Utility in Life-Saving Efforts), held during the summer of 2000, says better resuscitation strategies could have a huge impact in the United States. More than 680 Americans die each day due to cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association. Among its key recommendations: Promote professional and public education and training in resuscitation medicine.
For Your Speaker Rolodex:
Joy B. Plein, PhD, and Shirley S. Travis, PhD, RN, received Janssen ElderCare Lifetime Achievement Awards during the Fourth Annual U.S. Geriatric & Long-Term Care Congress, held, June 24 to 27, 2002, in Anaheim, Calif. Plein is coordinator of the certificate program in geriatric pharmacy practice, and principal preceptor of the Hearthstone Specialized Residency in Geriatric Pharmacy at the University of Washington. Travis is a researcher and nursing instructor whose work on geriatric care has been widely published.
A Free-to-All Conference:
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute held a free one-day conference for brain tumor patients, their families, and caregivers on June 22 in Las Vegas at the Circus-Circus Hotel. Although members of the American Brain Tumor Association and related organizations received invitations, the conference was open to anyone interested in attending. Participants heard from leading surgeons, researchers, and other professionals about new treatments as well as methods for coping emotionally with the diagnosis. Patients and family members also joined in informal group discussions with others who had similar interests or situations.
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