Archive for category ACEP Updates

From the President – Ebola Screening Resources Available

RosenauBy Dr. Alex M. Rosenau
ACEP President

As emergency physicians, we are skilled in responding to disasters and treating every kind of medical condition as part of our daily routines. We also are critical to America health care response to infectious diseases. This is because patients often show up first in emergency departments, as we saw during the anthrax attacks after 9/11 and in Dallas, Texas, yesterday when the first case of Ebola was confirmed in the United States. Clearly this disease deserves our attention and emphasis from health care providers across the country.

Ebola is a serious communicable disease. Heightened vigilance for case presentations and strict adherence by health care personnel to CDC advice, public education and a pre-planned medical response is necessary. Hospital physicians and entire health care teams have planned for these types of medical threats. Like SARS, MERS, and Hantavirus, newly identified serious population health threats continue to occur.

Even if this Ebola case is isolated, it is incumbent upon emergency physicians and other health care providers to properly screen and manage potential Ebola presentations. The CDC, the Emergency Care Coordination Center and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, have provided materials that are excellent resources for emergency physicians and other staff in the ED to have readily available for dissemination.

These resources are available on ACEP’s website at www.acep.org/ebola.

They include screening criteria and case definition.

The CDC recommends two initial steps in screening for Ebola Virus Disease:

  1. The symptoms are likely to be fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and lack of appetite, and in some cases bleeding.
  2. Travel to West Africa or other countries where EVD transmission has been reported by the World Health Organization within 21 days of symptom onset.

If both of these criteria are met, the patient should be moved to a private room, and standard-contact and droplet isolation precautions followed during further assessment.

We see dozens of patients each week, and particularly at this time of year, many will have a common cold or influenza. All health care professionals in the emergency department should know the protocols and what to ask so we can do everything possible to ensure that this Ebola case in Dallas remains isolated.

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Quality Sepsis Care: ACEP’s Mission, Advocacy and Research in Action

Sama preferred photo

Dr. Sama

By Andrew E. Sama, MD, FACEP

With nearly two-thirds of all admitted septic patients presenting to the ED, and with the clear time sensitivity that exists between recognition, treatment, and outcomes, our members are on the front lines to save lives from this frequently fatal disease. In the CY 2015 IPPS rule, in which CMS cited the fact that “that patients admitted through the ED had a 17% lower likelihood of dying from sepsis than when directly admitted,” CMS finalized NQF #0500: Early Management Bundle for Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock, which mandated the invasive monitoring of CVP and ScVO2 via the placement of a central line in the ED. However, late on Friday, CMS notified hospitals, that it will suspend data collection for the Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock: Management Bundle measure (NQF #0500) until further notice.

Emanuel Rivers, MD, MPH, and his team improved mortality and raised the awareness of the EM community about sepsis through their Early Gold Directed Therapy (EGDT) study in the early 2000s. A few years later, the measure was initially endorsed by the NQF in 2008 without the requirement for a central line for the emergency department. While it is certain that early intervention does reduce mortality, not all elements of the sepsis composite bundle were equally evidence-based.  Many studies over the years have demonstrated dramatic improvements in sepsis-related mortality after the implementation of early interventions for septic patients, which included early antibiotic administration, source control, and aggressive fluid resuscitation without invasive monitoring of CVP and ScVO2. One study addressing this, authored by Dr. Alan Jones and colleagues, was conducted at three EDs in the US, and compared two protocols that both included central venous pressure measurement; however, one used lactate clearance and the other used central venous oxygenation monitoring as a way to guide resuscitation. Dr. Jones’ 2010 study found no differences in mortality, suggesting that using central venous oxygenation to guide resuscitation may not be necessary.

In 2012 the measure underwent routine NQF maintenance review for re-endorsement in 2012-2013.  During those proceedings, under the leadership of David Seaberg, MD, FACEP and myself ACEP commented that central venous pressure (CVP) was not the only reliable measure of intravascular volume. Several members of ACEP’s Quality and Performance Committee (QPC) including chair Jeremiah D. Schuur, MD, MHS, FACEP, Michael Phelan, MD, RDMS, FACEP, Todd Slessinger, MD, FACEP, FCCM, FCCP, Christopher Fee, MD, FACEP, and others testified on conference calls and at in-person meetings, that there were equally effective and less invasive methods for monitoring septic patients.  Nonetheless, the NQF endorsed the requirement for the central line, noting that they would re-consider if additional evidence warranted it.

Within a few months the Protocolized Care for Early Septic Shock (ProCESS) trial was published on March 18, 2014 and under Dr. Alexander Rosenau’s leadership ACEP immediately requested that NQF #0500 undergo an ad hoc review given the impact that this new data would have on this quality measure. After reviewing the data from the ProCESS trial, NQF questioned whether NQF #0500’s item ‘F’, which measures central venous pressure and central venous oxygen saturation, should be retained or removed from the measure. During the review, one of the PIs, Donald Yealy, MD, FACEP engaged in a scientific debate noting that the ProCESS trial enrolled 1,341 patients, with a power to detect a 6-7 percent absolute difference, yet demonstrated no difference in mortality 60-day mortality 90-day mortality, one year mortality, or the need for organ support. The ProCESS also noted no benefit in any outcome when using CVC- guided care and the simpler approaches that stressed early and ongoing care produced the same good outcomes.

CMS, NQF, and others are now also convinced that honing the sepsis bundle is a move forward for our septic patients, with or without invasive monitoring depending on the progression of their disease, their unique circumstances, and the resources available at the ED where they are being treated. As it is ACEP’s mission, we will continue to advocate on behalf of our patients presenting with a diagnosis of sepsis to ensure that they receive the highest quality of emergency care. We look forward to continuing to work with the measure developer to ensure that all septic patients receive the timely, effective care they need, and to continue to save lives from this deadly disease.

Dr. Sama is ACEP’s Immediate Past President and Chair of the Board of Directors

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ACEP Clarifies Campaign Rules

By James M. Cusick, MD, FACEP
Chair, Candidate Forum Subcommittee of the ACEP Council

ACEP is a member-driven organization with a representative body of our peers – the ACEP Council – chosen through component bodies, including our chapters (1 representative per 100 members), our Sections of Membership, and other aligned organizations.

Each year, this body democratically votes to establish ACEP policy and elect leadership positions. Candidates present themselves to the Council through written statements, scheduled speeches, and unrehearsed Question and Answer sessions during the Candidate Forum, which is open to all members. Elections must be fair, follow guidelines applicable to all, and be free of undue influence or pressure on candidates.

The ACEP Council’s Candidate Forum Subcommittee recently performed its annual review of the campaign rules to ensure a fair campaign and elections process for all Board of Directors and President-elect candidates. The changes were approved by the Council Steering Committee.

This year, restrictions on the use of social media were substantially relaxed to allow forms of communication most of us use on a daily basis.

In addition, protections were incorporated into the rules to keep candidate interviews in ACEP publications. Our goal is to avoid candidates being put in the position of commenting on College policy without adequate preparation and to ensure that the campaign process is fair and equal for all candidates.

Certain candidates may unfairly benefit from coverage in non-ACEP publications, while some may be disadvantaged. In order to ensure a fair election, campaign questions and the vetting of candidates is the responsibility of ACEP, its Council and its Council Committees.

If there are specific questions you would like asked of the candidates prior to the election, please send them to communications@acep.org. The Candidate Forum Subcommittee will consider them, the selected questions will be posed to candidates and their responses will be made public.

Elections will occur during the Council meeting on Oct. 26 in Chicago. The Nominating Committee has selected the final slate of candidates for 2014:

President-Elect Candidates
Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP
Robert O’Connor, MD, FACEP
Rebecca Parker, MD, FACEP

Board of Directors Candidates (4 positions to be filled)
Stephen Anderson, MD, FACEP (WA)
Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, FACEP (MD)
Hans House, MD, FACEP (incumbent – IA)
Mark Mackey, MD, FACEP (incumbent – IL)
John Rogers, MD, FACEP (incumbent – GA)
Mark Rosenberg, DO, FACEP (NJ)

 

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ACEP Mid-Year Update

Dr. Alex M. Rosenau

 

By Alexander M. Rosenau, DO, CPE, FACEP

As we come upon the halfway point of my Presidency, I’d like to offer ACEP members an update and share news about exciting things we’re working on for the coming months. For me, the past six months have been intense, as I’ve connected with individual members, groups, organizations and legislators in concert with our strong Board of Directors, expert staff and amazing volunteer physician members. Dialogue, conflict management for a better result, as well as bringing together the right folks for both the challenges at hand and those just over the horizon are daily activities. I’ve cherished every minute. Emergency physicians enjoy a tremendous relationship with each other, and I know we’ve done some things in the past six months to make our bond even stronger – and to appreciate our past even more. In all things emergency medicine, my mantra is “them is us and us is them,” meaning that the common bond we share is much stronger than the forces tugging at us in disparate directions. When you read this update, please know that I will continue to work hard for you over the next six months, and I welcome any feedback. I hope to see you at our Leadership and Advocacy Conference next month and ACEP14 this fall, and please don’t forget to say, “Hey.”

Report Card Garners Major Media Attention
Although we don’t like the results we saw from the release of the 2014 State-by-State Report Card on Emergency Medicine, an overall grade of D-Plus nationwide could have a positive impact on health care moving forward.  Our Report Card fostered many a conversation with state legislators.  Media outlets have pointed out what we already knew – that several states don’t have the resources and policies in place to support high-quality emergency care. Stories about the Report Card appeared in major newspapers, including The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Daily News, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Houston Chronicle and The Seattle Times, to name a few. Along with print stories, nearly 800 broadcast stories aired on news organizations including ABC’s World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox Business News, CNBC’s Kudlow and Kramer, WNBC New York, and Telemundo as well as dozens of local television stations across the country.  The estimated audience reach was 72.2 million people. Our dedicated spokespersons will continue to make sure the results of this study resonate nationwide. Keep up with the progress at www.emreportcard.org.

ACEP Working on Several Federal Advocacy Efforts
One of the most critical federal advocacy projects we’re currently working on is the support of H.R. 36/S.961, the “Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act of 2013,” introduced by my 911 key contact, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) in the House and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in the Senate. The bill provides medical liability relief for physicians providing care under the EMTALA mandate. The House bill continues to gain support and reached nearly 70 co-sponsors last month. Our advocacy team is working diligently on SGR repeal in concert with a number of allies. Although the CBO rated an SGR fix the most affordable ever, Congress failed to settle the offset funding issue and we didn’t get the permanent fix. The previous work of our Washington office in collaboration with our specialty and AMA allies assured prevention of a seriously damaging 24 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements for one year; also extending dozens of other expiring health care-related provisions. ACEP will continue to work with the AMA and other medical specialty societies to encourage members of Congress to take action this year on the permanent repeal of the SGR. We’ve also been working very closely with the Emergency Medicine Action Fund (EMAF) to address regulatory reform under the Affordable Care Act, including areas related to quality measures reporting and reimbursement.

ACEP Now Launched
When the calendar flipped to 2014, ACEP turned its monthly publication up a notch. We wanted to blend the needs of our membership with an edgy editorial vision related more closely to the world we work in. Beginning with a round-table discussion cover story and a compelling piece on breaking down racial barriers in the ED, the new-look ACEP Now hit mailboxes in mid-January and began receiving rave reviews from ACEP members.  I hope you like the direction of our new medical editor-in-chief Kevin Klauer, DO, EJD, FACEP, and our new publishing partner, Wiley Press. The new ACEP Now is not only bigger, it features more incisive opinions, “you are there” real articles regarding our decision making and advice from some of emergency medicine’s most  renowned physicians. The news from ACEP and events related to the College will always be a part of the magazine, so none of that has changed. What has changed is the attention to detail and open dialogue when opinions differ on controversial issues. If you haven’t seen ACEP Now lately, grab a copy soon. Your feedback is welcome at www.acepnow.com .

Strategic Plan Taking Shape
In leading the annual Board retreat in December, top-level goals and objectives for the college from now until 2017 were debated, prioritized and built for impact. Goal 1: Care transitions and reform of the health care delivery system continue at full gallup. Goal 2 received particular attention with the formation of the Membership Engagement Task Force, the Membership Bylaws Task Force and the Residency Visit Task Force. Your fellow member leaders of these groups, their Board of Director Liaisons, and assigned top level staff are poised for success in member engagement and satisfaction.  Here’s an overview of the Strategic Plan:

Goal 1 – Reform and Improve the Delivery System for Emergency Care

  • Objective A – Identify, support, and promote delivery models that provide effective and efficient emergency medical and acute care in different environments.
  • Objective B – Promote quality and patient safety, including development and validation of quality measures.
  • Objective C – Pursue strategies for ensuring fair payment and practice sustainability.
  • Objective D – Pursue solutions for workforce issues that ensure access to high quality emergency care.
  • Objective E – Advocate for meaningful liability reform at the state and federal levels.
  • Objective F – Communicate the value of emergency medicine as an important component of the health care system.

 Goal 2 – Enhance Membership Value and Member Engagement

  • Objective A – Increase total membership and transitioning resident retention.
  • Objective B – Provide robust educational offerings, including novel delivery methods.
  • Objective C – Support member well-being.
  • Objective D – Ensure adequate infrastructure to support growth.


Building Bridges and Strengthening Relationships

My other mantra is to connect ACEP with others who share our passion for quality health care. If we build bridges and enhance our synergy with other health care organizations, we benefit and so do our patients. We’re currently working to provide input to ABEM for recognition of Clinical Ultrasound for subspecialty certification. This will improve education, continue to allow Ultrasound use for patient care by all members meeting ACEP guidelines and validate point of care as a reimbursable item. This contributes to our value. Our relationship with CORD continues to grow, as does our joint work with CORD and SAEM in GME matters. EMRA has a new executive director and our relationship with EMRA could not be stronger. We’re proud to announce the recent ACEP/SEMPA Advanced Practice Provider Academy drew rave reviews and more than 300 physician assistant and nurse attendees. I participated as our two organizations penned a new five-year management service contract in New Orleans last month. I directed a new task force be formed to reach out to identify opportunities for collaboration with the Society of Hospitalist Medicine.  When it comes to building bridges, there are many organizations whose activities, benchmarks and plans have relevance to us. That is just one reason our executive director, Dean Wilkerson, has been such an asset to our organization for the past decade. We meet by phone at least weekly, communicate via email most days. Your Board members are out and about on a national scale gathering information, forming relationships and honing the judgment that all of you expect your elected leaders to use. I personally appreciate their diplomacy and expert work.

Two Clinical Policies Reviewed
ACEP reviewed two Clinical Policies recently. In response to the Council- and ACEP Board–adopted Amended Resolution 32(13), the “Clinical Policy: Use of Intravenous tPA for the Management of Acute Ischemic Stroke in the Emergency Department” is being reviewed. The Clinical Policies Committee, as per council, accepted comments until March 24. Findings and any recommendations regarding the policy will be reported to the ACEP Board in June. Also, per the resolution, future clinical policies will include a 60-day comment period before finalization. A Clinical Policies Subcommittee of ACEP completed a draft clinical guideline in late March, “Clinical Policy: Critical Issues in the Evaluation and Management of Adult Patients with Suspected Acute Non-Traumatic Thoracic Aortic Dissection.” It’s open for comments until May 28, 2014. To view the draft policy and comment form, go to http://www.acep.org/content.aspx?ekfrm=96266. For questions, please contact Rhonda Whitson at rwhitson@acep.org.

Quality Measures and Reimbursement
ACEP has accepted donated emergency medicine quality measures from other organizations, and we’re developing our own for member benefit (both for CMS incentive and avoidance of CMS penalty). These steps, in addition to our continuing education on reimbursement and coding, add value to your bottom line and salary. We’ve had several recent articles, webinars and a spring conference devoted to Reimbursement and Coding, helping you prepare for reimbursement issues, the eventuality of ICD-10 and PQRS benefits in concert with ABEM.

ACEP’s Official Mobile App Improved
The official ACEP mobile app, an essential resource for members and other emergency care providers, received an upgrade early in 2013 to make navigation easier and to improve the design. The next phase of upgrades is currently being implemented. This includes the addition of several links to education resources from ACEP’s bookstore, audio recordings from the monthly Education on Demand newsletter and a section where emergency medicine news published in ACEP Now can be found. You can also find a secure Member Directory, a personalized Member Guide that reflects your chapter and sections, an events calendar and ACEP’s clinical policies. If you don’t have ACEP’s app on your phone, download it today for iPhone or Android devices.

EMF Continues Endowment Push

Since October, EMF has launched a new logo and continues the momentum of the ACEP $1 million match to bring the endowment to maturity with a corpus of $2.5 million. To help achieve this goal, for every dollar contributed to EMF before June 30, EMF will match it with a contribution of 50 cents toward the endowment. EMF has a new board and a new Strategic Plan. It’s Goals and Objectives are to:

  • Goal 1 – Position EMF as the principal sponsor of scientifically rigorous research and education to to improve the care of the acutely ill and injured and policy research that aligns with emergency care priorities
  • Goal 2:  Increase EMF’s capacity to engage more people in emergency medicine research and award more grants
  • Goal 3 – Position EMF as the premier 501(c)(3) emergency medicine foundation
  • Goal 4 – Increase EMF revenue to fund more research grants and education projects

Please go to www.emfoundation.org, and make EMF your charity of choice.

Annals Added to eCME Options
In collaboration with ACEP’s online education program, articles from the Annals of Emergency Medicine are being offered as a CME component. As of April 2014, there were 13 Annals-based articles available to members. ACEP looks forward to seeing this educational offering become a robust element of ACEP’s overall online education program. Learn more at www.acep.org/ecme.

Concurrent with the inauguration of the eCME program, Annals announced that it would continue its relationship with long-time publisher, Elsevier. The five-year contract runs through December 2018, and provides a solid and stable financial basis for journal revenues. The contract provides a generous editorial office stipend along with a guaranteed minimum royalty, enabling Annals to contribute substantially toward the overall financial success of the College.

ACEP Continues to Add Value, Enhance Image
The continued strength of our specialty requires us to do some heavy lifting in areas such as keeping prudent layperson as a recognized part of the ACA, working toward an SGR fix and changing perception about the cost of emergency care. Working together, we will make progress. As a result, our place in the House of Medicine will be enhanced. And we’re building strong connections with others while providing service to our chapters as they protect the interests of our members. Chapter efforts in Washington state and most recently in Virginia underscore the need for our teamwork. We believe that Steve Stack will become the AMA’s first ever Emergency Physician President.  We have a real chance for the AMA to continue its re-invigoration with a clear view of EM’s contribution to the house of medicine because of his upcoming service.  If you have any membership dollars available in your professional budget, I hope you consider making this year one in which you might become an AMA member to bolster our ACEP delegation at the AMA.  There are certain things that are more do-able when we have a strong delegation within the AMA, whether advancing our cause within the house of medicine or in our negotiations at the RUC.

Spring Conferences in Full Swing, LAC Coming Up
ACEP’s busy spring conference lineup began in February with the Reimbursement and Coding Conferences in New Orleans. With the upcoming changes in coding and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, payment topics have become even more popular and necessary. More than 200 emergency physicians participated in the February 2014 conference. Your next chance to brush up on your knowledge in this area is March 2015 when the R/C Conferences move to Las Vegas.

The 2014 Advanced Pediatric Emergency Medicine Assembly was held in New York City in March and drew more than 550 four-day registrants. This is the highest number in four years.

ACEP’s newest offering, the Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Academy, recently wrapped up. More than 300 attendees received a crash course in emergency department essentials. Held in conjunction with SEMPA, this conference is vital for emergency department providers who might be new to the ED or need help in certain areas. The demand for this conference was high and feedback positive, so ACEP and SEMPA have decided to hold a second installment of Phase I in August. The conference has also been renamed Emergency Medicine Academy.

ACEP’s Leadership and Advocacy Conference will be May 18-21 in Washington, D.C. If you’ve never been to this conference, you’re missing one of the best three days of education and networking available. Thought-provoking, inspiring and challenging sessions by nationally recognized speakers and key decision makers will provide you the inside information and skills you need to maximize your impact as an emergency medicine leader and advocate. Invited Speakers for the Conference include: U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR); U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY); Amy Walter, Political Analyst for the Cook Political Report; Patrick Conway, MD, Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality & CMS Chief Medical Officer. Please plan to come to Washington, D.C., next month to network with ACEP leaders and advocate for your specialty.

Please remember the elevator speech when you run into your hospital leaders and legislators:
We are 4% of the physician workforce seeing 28% of all acute care visits. We are the doctors of first contact, unscheduled, federally mandated care regardless of financial status. We are over 32,000 ACEP members seeing 130 million patient visits, 24/7/365 for about 4% of the national healthcare dollar. Our customers include primary care docs who send their patients to us for complex medical diagnostic work-ups. We are the portal of entry for 75% of all hospital admissions. We are the hub of the enterprise, and are working toward being masters of transitions of care. We are not only expected to be the admittors, but also the admitting avoidance service through our work in care coordination.  And we do this in a room, in a hallway, in ‘copters and ambulances during disasters large and small every shift of every single day.

Thanks for the Past Six Months
I started my EM practice in the 1980s, and there are many reasons I value membership and the friends I’ve made over the years. I can pick up a phone and dial a colleague anywhere for advice. Like all families and all democratic groups filled with the riches of a knowledge-based constituency, we will have disagreements and some conflict. It’s all for a better result and a strong organization, as long as we stick together. The knowledge I’ve gained in reimbursement and coding and practice management has paid me back every dollar I ever contributed to ACEP, EMF and NEMPAC. The education I’ve received at conferences has made my practice better and improved the care of my patients. I was proud to join ACEP then, and I’m proud to be its President today. ACEP is growing. ACEP is dynamic. ACEP gives you a good return on your dues investment dollars. Your partners, your colleagues are the members of the committees, task forces, sections, Board, Council, and technical expert panels that create our future. Let’s connect. See you at LAC and ACEP14.

Sincerely,
Alex

Alexander M. Rosenau, DO, CPE, FACEP
President, American College of Emergency Physicians


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Track It Down in Seattle

Fellow ACEP Members,

For those who made the trip to Denver this past October, hopefully you were able to “add more science to your Scientific Assembly experience” by visiting the ACEP Research Forum.  The forum included both oral and poster presentations highlighting cutting-edge research in our field.  The Forum featured an expert panel discussing abstracts that have significant implications for emergency medicine practice or research.  Last year marked the first for the ACEP Research Forum Scavenger Hunt.  In order to bring additional interest, and add a little fun to the Research Forum, a scavenger hunt was created with collaboration from the researchers themselves.

The scavenger hunt consisted of a set of questions for each day of the forum for non-researchers reviewing the posters to complete.  The answers could be found in the poster presentations and each question was followed by a clue to guide you along the way.  Questions for the hunt were contributed by over forty of the presenting researchers.  The contributors were enthusiastic about the scavenger hunt, stating “It’s a great idea!! Very excited about it.” Another researcher appreciated that “It helped me not wait until the last minute to do my poster.”  Summing up the goal of the scavenger hunt well, another contributor commented, “Thanks for increasing the awareness of the research projects.

Those who completed the scavenger hunt were submitted into a drawing for prizes: Virtual ACEP membership and ACEP bookstore gift certificates.  One participant who completed the Scavenger Hunt commented, “It forced you to get a look at the whole range of research EM physicians are involved in, instead of gravitating only to your area of interest.”

Cutting edge research is presented every year at the research forum by hard working practitioners in our field.  Efforts to increase awareness and participation by non-researchers in the forum should be continued.  The Scavenger Hunt is again being planned for the upcoming conference, ACEP13 in Seattle. Be on the lookout for a new and improved Scavenger Hunt with improved convenience and ease of access.  Of course, don’t forget about the exciting ACEP prizes for those cunning enough to navigate the hunt!

Alicia Glynn, MD
Resident, EM-3
Case Western Reserve University/Metro Health Medical Center/Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, Ohio

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Remember to Use the Fair Health Discount Code

ACEP has arranged for its members to receive a 20% discount on the FH Fee Estimator, a new source of independent charge data from private insurance claims. Participants can access emergency medicine charge data for 491 geographic areas nationwide. This tool gives physicians and management a better understanding of the marketplace and allows instant compare charge data to Medicare fees.

The FH Fee Estimator website, www.feeestimator.org, is easy to use for small data requests. But if you need a more sophisticated data set, contact FAIR Health for custom analytics. To get the ACEP 20% discount, enter the promotion code 20ACEP13 at the checkout screen.

FH Fee Estimator is brought to you by the not-for-profit corporation FAIR Health, whose mission is to bring transparency to healthcare costs through comprehensive data products and consumer resources. Created in 2009 to provide an objective source of data, FAIR Health owns and maintains a database of billions of billed medical and dental services. This database serves as the foundation for benchmark products that reflect the prices charged for healthcare services in specific geographic markets across the country.

This database is a great resource for emergency physicians groups to inform development of fee schedules and other practice decision making, says David McKenzie, CAE, ACEP’s director of physician reimbursement. The data is available based on an aggregation of zip codes and can be tailored for the geographic area you serve. Because it is drawn from actual claims data, it is a wonderful source of information on fees charged in your area, he adds.

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ACEP Calls for Increased Investment in Mental Health Resources and a Ban on the Sale of Assault Weapons

ACEP President Dr. Andy SamaThe American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) today expressed deepest sympathy to all those affected by the senseless tragedy in Connecticut and called on government at every level to increase investments in mental health resources and to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Emergency physicians see the tragic consequences of gun violence every day. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and to everyone affected by this terrible event in Newtown.  We deplore the improper use of firearms and support legislative action to decrease the threat to public safety resulting from the widespread availability of assault weapons.  We also are urging policymakers to restore dedicated funding for firearms injury prevention research.

ACEP’s policy on firearm injury prevention endorses limiting the availability of firearms to those “whose ability to responsibly handle a weapon is assured.”  It also calls for aggressive action to enforce current laws against illegal possession, purchase, sale or use of firearms.

The nation’s emergency physicians call for increased funding for the development, evaluation and implementation of evidence-based programs and policies to reduce firearm related injury and death. We will fully support legislation that supports the principles of ACEP’s policy on firearms injury prevention.

The lack of mental health resources in the United States has contributed to a significant increase in visits to the emergency department.  Psychiatric emergencies grew by 131 percent between 2000 and 2007, according to a recent study in Annals of Emergency Medicine.  This is symptomatic of the lack of resources for these patients.

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Update on ACEP and the Choosing Wisely Campaign

ACEP President Dr. David SeabergAlthough ACEP has previously reviewed the Choosing Wisely Campaign and agreed not to participate, due to continued questions and comments from our members, I convened a workgroup to re-review the campaign and ACEP’s participation.  The workgroup consisted of a wide and diverse representation of ACEP members and Committees.

The group was overwhelming in support of not joining the Choosing Wisely Campaign.  Although the issue of cost control is crucial for emergency medicine’s future, the Choosing Wisely Campaign is not the vehicle for ACEP’s participation.

Several important points were made during the workgroup meeting:

  • The College needs to be viewed by CMS, payers, and the public as proactively addressing cost containment and overuse.
     
  • ACEP needs to be seen as proactively providing solutions rather than appearing to be against any cost cutting or savings suggestions.
     
  • The College developing and communicating a plan with proactive proposals/solutions will mitigate some cost cutting measures from those that do not understand the unique position of emergency care. It was noted part of the success of the Washington State initiative was the ability to come to the table with a plan, rather than push back against the plan of action presented by the State.
     
  • Whatever is developed should showcase the specialty in a favorable light and not contradict or conflict with current advocacy efforts.
     
  • There was support for identifying over-use and developing a positive message on cost savings and efficiencies in the emergency department.
     
  • To come to consensus on a certain number of tests or services that have limited use would require so many caveats that it would be almost impossible to develop lists as found in the Choosing Wisely Campaign.
     
  • Ideally any recommendations should include some liability reform/recommendations in using guidelines that may suggest certain tests or procedures are not effective or necessary.
     

It was recommended that ACEP develop a task force from committees, sections, and members with expertise in these areas to develop a proactive campaign that recognizes the role the emergency department and emergency physicians can play in controlling costs while improving efficiencies and quality patient care. 

The process has already begun with the task force being constituted with the goal of developing messages and strategies for cost control in the emergency department.  The task force will make their recommendations at the October ACEP Board of Directors meeting. 
We also will be educating our members about cost savings programs from other specialties, such as the Image Wisely and Image Gently programs from the American College of Radiology.

DAVID SEABERG, MD, FACEP
President, American College of Emergency Physicians

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ACEP and the Choosing Wisely Campaign

ACEP President Dr. David SeabergA campaign called Choosing Wisely has gotten some attention of late because of its stated goal of reducing health care costs by eliminating tests and procedures that are not “necessary.” Since Choosing Wisely launched, nine medical specialty organizations have offered up their top five items for the chopping block.  These range from CT scans for fainting from the American College of Physicians to antibiotics for chronic sinusitis from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

ACEP was asked to join the campaign in 2011, and after extensive review and discussion at the Committee level, ACEP declined.  There are several reasons for our initial response:

  • Emergency physicians have no right of refusal with our patients and often pick up the slack for other members of our esteemed profession. A recent member poll showed that 97% of us report seeing patients on a daily basis who are sent to the emergency department by their primary care physician. Many of these patients have been sent in with expressed instructions from the family physician to have this or that test ordered either because their office practice is swamped, the office is closed, or they lack the facilities to perform these tests. 
     
  • ABIM, the organization sponsoring the campaign, refused to allow any discussion of liability reform as a component of the Choosing Wisely campaign. To quote from the letter ACEP Past President Dr. Sandy Schneider sent to Daniel Wolfson, ABIM’s Executive VP and COO: “This is a significant issue in emergency medicine and a critical factor as to why emergency physicians order the number of tests and procedures they do.  Unlike primary care physicians, emergency physicians are not chosen by their patients, who have a greater tendency to sue for any perceived untoward event. In addition, we often lack prior care information. It is simply not possible for emergency physicians to talk about reducing ‘unnecessary’ testing without including messages about the need for medical liability reform.”
     
  • Emergency physicians approach our patients with the goal of eliminating anything life threatening. We cannot afford to miss anything, even something that seems like a long-shot. The consequences may be life or death for our patients. A test that is unnecessary for 99 patients may save the life of patient number 100.
     
  • Emergency medical care constitutes just 2 percent of all health care spending in the United States, no doubt in part because so much of the care we deliver is uncompensated. We are masters of efficiency and improvisation but there is only so far a dollar can be stretched. Emergency departments have been closing at an alarming rate across the country because so much care isn’t paid for. This is not the place to cut costs any further.
     
  • Lastly, should ACEP participate in this campaign, it very well may assure that emergency physicians will not receive reimbursement for the five identified procedures or tests.

ACEP is dedicated to advancing emergency care and promoting evidence-based quality improvement measures for its patients. To that end, we are reevaluating our response to the Choosing Wisely campaign by developing a workgroup, comprised of members from the Reimbursement, Medical-Legal, EM Practice, Clinical Policies, Quality and Performance, and Public Relations Committees to examine the issue and prepare a proposal for ACEP Board consideration.

DAVID SEABERG, MD, FACEP
President, American College of Emergency Physicians

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Your Opinion is Important to Us

Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP, ACEP Past President

I would like to personally invite you to become a member of the Emergency Medicine Practice Research Network – EM-PRN. Becoming a member is simple; just click on this link and answer a brief survey. It will take less than five minutes. We want to know if you are seeing patients with chronic pain, we want to know if you are experiencing medication shortages and how you are coping. We want to know how you practice. YOUR ANSWERS will provide ACEP with essential information for our advocacy in Washington and improving emergency care. To stay a member, all you need TO DO is to agree that you will complete 3-4 surveys, five minutes or less, each year.

Membership at this time is only open to ACEP members, residents, attendings and life members. Sorry, we cannot as yet accommodate non-members or medical students. Many other specialities have built practice research networks. Pediatrics has had one for more than a decade. They started small, like us. They have found that getting data from physicians on the front lines is often very different than getting it from inner city, teaching hospitals. Once you join EM-PRN, you will be able to do much more than just give opinions to survey questions. We want to submit ideas for research projects and survey questions that YOU would be interested in. Our group will pick the more interesting and the most popular IDEAS for the next survey. So you not only will be providing answers, you’ll be designing the questions.

Right now and for the next few years, EM-PRN will be largely surveys. Eventually, we will likely want to grow to collect some data. For example, IN THE FUTURE we might want to monitor the number of patients seen with chronic pain in emergency departments. You would simply count the actual number of patients you see during a single shift (no names, no identifiers) and submit it to ACEP.

We could then monitor this number over time to see if it is increasing, decreasing or staying the same. The members of EM-PRN will help direct what research projects we consider and will be acknowledged on any publication. Members will also receive the results of any project ahead of publication. So in the time it has taken you to read this Blog, YOU could contribute to advancing our knowledge of the real practice of emergency medicine. Join now.

www.acep.org/em-prn

 

 

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