Volume 115, No. 6Top
June 2019 Edition

They Said It...

"And 16 times I was asked the question - how does this happen? And 16 times I answered that I didn't know." Retired Sergeant Major Nicholas "Chip" Gilliland talking about the funerals he attended of Pennsylvania National Guard troops who committed suicide while Gilliland served as assistant adjutant general for the guard.

He went to 22 funerals for servicemen. Sixteen of the victims were suicides. He made the comments during a symposium on veterans' suicides at the PCMS building. We will have a report on the symposium in our summer issue of our magazine version of
Philadelphia Medicine.

In the News... 
Two-thirds of PCMS Members in Poll Favor Opioid Injection Site A1

Our recent online survey of PCMS members found that 66% of those who responded, think that the city of Philadelphia should open a safe injection site for opioid users.

Two-hundred-four members answered the survey question: "The Philadelphia County Medical Society would like to hear from you regarding Safehouse, a Philadelphia non-profit that is trying to open the nation's first supervised injection site for opioid users. Do you think such a facility should be allowed to open in the city?"

Of those who responded, 137 answered yes, 41 said no, and 26 were undecided.

The survey was emailed to more than 5,500 members on May 17.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has taken Safehouse to federal court, arguing that federal law does not allow the opening of a supervised injection site for opioid users.

A court date on the case is set for early July.

Opioid Prescriptions Drop Dramatically A2

The AMA reports that opioid prescriptions have decreased 33% between 2013 and 2018. The report found a 12.4% decline between 2017 and 2018.

"The opioid epidemic is at a crossroads," said AMA President-elect Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA. Harris chairs the AMA Opioid Task Force. She said physicians have played a crucial role in causing these significant reductions.

Part of the reason for the drop besides the obvious - physicians are prescribing the drugs less often - is also the use of the prescription drug monitoring program. Physicians and other health care providers used PDMPs more than 460 million times in 2018, an increase in just one year of 167 million.

But Harris warned that by themselves, these efforts "will not stop people from dying." She said deaths from heroin and fentanyl remain at historic levels. Harris called on lawmakers and other policymakers to end barriers to treatment and encourage health insurance providers to get on board with non-opioid alternatives to treatment.

Still Nursing that Open Wound A3

The Pa. Medical Society (PAMED) is urging physicians to tell their state senators that the CRNP Independent Practice Bill, SB 25, is bad medicine.

The Pa. Senate could vote on the bill this week. It would allow CRNPs to practice independently in the state without the requirement to collaborate with a physician.

PAMED calls on you to contact your senator with your own stories that point out the problems such a bill will create for Pennsylvania's patients. You can find PAMED's "take action" page at: http://cqrcengage.com/pamed/app/take-action?engagementId=498101&ep=AAAAC2Fl

The ABCs of the MDP Annual Report A4

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted the 2019 Quality Measure Development Plan (MDP) Annual Report. It describes the progress in developing clinician quality measures to support the Quality Payment Program.

The MDP is a focused framework for developing these measures. It points out the known measurement and performance gaps, and recommends approaches to closing those gaps. The MDP is designed to provide information and support to key stakeholders who develop clinician quality measures for consideration for the Quality Payment Program.

For more information about the 2019 MDP Annual Report, go to the Quality Payment Program measure development page at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Payment-Program/Measure-Development/Measure-development.html

There's a lot More to Learn About HIPAA Rules A5

OCR has established two listservs of FAQs to inform the public about health information privacy and security issues.

The material answers a wide range of questions, such as "what liability does a covered entity face if it fulfills an individual's request to send their ePHI using an unsecure method to an app?"

If you don't know the answer, you might find it useful to go to OCR's FAQs.

To learn more about the HIPAA privacy and security rules, go to: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/list-serve/index.html

More information about apps, business associates, and HIPAA is available at https://hipaaqsportal.hhs.gov

Confirmed Case of Measles in Western Pa. A6

The case was in Crawford County. The victim potentially exposed members of the public near the emergency department at Meadville Medical Center. The medical center has notified and evaluated patients, visitors and staff who may have come in contact with the individual.

The DOH also reminds providers to immediately report suspected cases of measles to local public health authorities or to the DOH at 877-PA-HEALTH (877-724-3258).

All children over one year of age along with all adults, should be vaccinated.

For more information on the measles problem in our state, go to https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/HAN/2019-PAHAN--447-05-31-ADV-Measles-Crawford%20County.pdf

School's Out and the Heat's On - Some Timely Reminders A7

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) is calling on physicians to be mindful of patients who need a watchful eye in the summer heat.

During excessively hot and humid days, PDPH reminds all caregivers to:
  • Identify at-risk patients.
  • Educate them about how to stay cool and how to recognize early symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • Encourage family members and caretakers to check in on seniors, especially if they are living alone.
  • Raise awareness about city services that may be activated during a Heat Health Emergency, including the PCA Heatline and cooling centers.
For more information from PDPH on this important issue, click here.

Calendar of EventsCalendar

June
29 - President's Installation and Awards Night

Date: Saturday, June 29
Time: 6:00 PM
Place: The Philadelphia Country Club, 1601 Spring Mill Road, Gladwyne, PA 19035

Celebrating the Inauguration of James L. Cristol, MD, as the 158th President of the Philadelphia County Medical Society. The deadline to RSVP is June 17.


October
25 - House of Delegates

Date: October 25-27
Place: The Hershey Lodge, 325 University Dr., Hershey, PA 17033

Join your colleagues for a lively, informative weekend of continuing education, leadership development, advocacy, and networking at the Pennsylvania Medical Society's House of Delegates Meeting and Annual Education Conference.

28 - Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition Statewide Conference

Date: October 28-29
Place: Sheraton Harrisburg, 4650 Lindle Rd, Harrisburg, PA 17111

Advocates, clinicians, professionals, and community leaders will be coming together for a 2-day statewide conference on October 28th and 29th in Harrisburg to discuss cutting edge research and evidence-based solutions to the opioid epidemic.


Philadelphia County Medical Society | stat@philamedsoc.org
215-563-5343 | http://philamedsoc.org