Several months have passed since the publication of the latest US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) breast cancer screening guidelines. The initial, sharp outcry, mainly over the task force’s recommendation against routine screening mammography for women aged 40 to 49 years, has somewhat subsided, but the overall significance of the group’s decision remains undetermined.
Forty-five percent of adults in the United States have hypertension, high serum total cholesterol levels, or diabetes, according to a recent report from the CDC.1 Of these persons, approximately 13% have 2 conditions and nearly 3% have all 3 (Figure 1). In nearly 15% of those with 1 of these conditions, it remains undiagnosed.
American medicine is undergoing the greatest financial scrutiny in its history. The hue and cry for reform stems primarily from the soaring costs of health care. However, placing the blame for these costs solely on increased utilization of technology, cutting-edge pharmaceuticals, cost-shifting hospitals, and physicians misses a bigger mark.
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Pay for performance (P4P) is causing physicians to examine how they provide care individually and collectively within local health systems. It is the most recent attempt by Medicare and commercial payers to reduce the cost and improve the outcomes of health care. Understanding P4P and deciding how to manage the multiple programs being implemented by payers will challenge physicians' ethics and practice resources. Improving health care for musculoskeletal diseases will require cooperation among the specialties that share responsibility for this care and improved methods for coordinating and documenting it.
Phillip arrived at the appointment for his first psychiatric outpatient session, filled out the paperwork, told me he was depressed, shed a tear, and became completely silent. No amount of coaxing from me could get him to talk. He looked down or into space, avoiding my eyes, and just sat there for the entire 50-minute session.