Update

July 20, 2007

Professional and financial news you can use

TAXES

Say adios to this popular loophole

RESIDENCY

More rest = better care

Medication errors and ICU use in cases handled by residents and interns at Yale-New Haven Hospital went down after work rule changes went into effect in 2003, says a study in the July 17 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. (The changes limit residents' and interns' hours to 80 a week and no more than 24 consecutively.) Admission rates to the ICU dropped by 2 percent and pharmacist interventions to prevent drug errors were reduced by 1.92 interventions per 100 patient-days. What's more, discharges to home or rehab centers (as opposed to inpatient deaths or transfers) increased by 5 percent. The study compared outcomes for patients treated by the teaching staff and those treated by hospitalists.

GENDER

Equality doesn't extend to routine care

Women with heart disease or diabetes are less likely than men to lower their cholesterol to recommended levels after suffering a heart attack or other acute cardiac event, says a RAND study published in the May/June edition of Women's Health Issues. Women with diabetes were 19 percent less likely than men to have their cholesterol within recommended ranges if they were enrolled in Medicare and 16 percent less likely than men to have cholesterol with recommended ranges if enrolled in commercial health plans. The study also found small, though statistically significant, gender differences in the use of ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, with fewer women receiving prescriptions than men.

PATIENTS

Be nice

"Hi, I'm Dr. John Smith." To keep most patients happy, shake hands and introduce yourself to them using your first and last names, says a study published in the June 11 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. About 78 percent of those surveyed say they want a handshake from their doctors, and 56 percent want their physicians to give their own first and last names when meeting for the first time. Roughly half want to be called by their first names, while 24 percent want their doctors to greet them by both names.