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Reining in patient advertising

The Institute of Medicine recently recommended that the FDA impose a two-year moratorium on direct-to-consumer advertising for new drugs-and physicians apparently agree, according to a MedPanel poll of 1,360 doctors. Only 20 percent of the doctors opposed a delay. The majority tended to believe that a moratorium would give them more time to become familiar with a drug's efficacy and side effects before patients arrive requesting it. Moreover, doctors said, they don't trust pharmaceutical companies, and they felt that the ads interfere with the physician-patient relationship.


Improved vigilance could lessen suits

Many malpractice suits could be avoided if physicians paid closer attention to basic medical practice, a new study suggests. Nearly three-fifths of the 307 closed malpractice claims analyzed involved diagnostic errors that harmed patients. Although most of the claims were comprised of several factors, researchers concluded that the most common errors involved misinterpretation of diagnostic tests, and physician failure to order an appropriate test, create a proper follow-up plan, and obtain an adequate history or perform an adequate physical exam. Factors that contributed to physician errors included failures in judgment, vigilance, or memory, a lack of knowledge, patient-related factors, and handoff of patients from other doctors. The use of electronic health records, improved algorithms for patient evaluations, and help from nurse practitioners to ensure appropriate follow-up might reduce the number of physician errors, the study's lead author suggests.


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Are hospitals the key to doctors' IT adoption?

Three out of four physicians responding to a Harris Interactive survey are thinking about adopting EHRs within the next three years, and the majority (71 percent) would welcome help from local hospitals in acquiring that technology. Moreover, many respondents said they'd be willing to pay a monthly fee to lease the technology from the hospital. When asked to rank 12 potential benefits associated with EHR adoption, the doctors overwhelmingly placed clinical gains above financial factors, which came in eleventh.


Can you control your shopping binges?

More than one in 20 adults have compulsive buying disorder, and men are almost as likely to be afflicted as women are, says research from the Stanford University School of Medicine. Based on a phone survey, the researchers found than 6 percent of women and 5.5 percent of men had symptoms consistent with compulsive buying disorder, which is characterized by an irresistible, intrusive, and often senseless impulse to buy. Those suffering from the disorder often run up thousands of dollars in debt. The results were published in the October issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.

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