MA newspaper endorses idea of supervised injection facility study

Posted in opioids on August 14th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Be the first to comment

The Lowell Sun, a newspaper based in a geography that has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, has published an editorial in which it encourages the idea of studying the effectiveness of a supervised injection facility locally.

“Certainly, those on both sides of this issue make strong arguments. However, the grave consequences of continually fighting a losing battle in the war on drugs demands that we must seriously explore every reasonable alternative,” the editorial read.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/opinion/ci_31206074/editorial-opioid-injection-facilities-worthy-careful-study#ixzz4pk6Lcs8l

The Massachusetts Medical Society is in favor of such sites and earlier this summer testified in front of the Boston City Council on the subject. You can read that testimony by MMS President Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP  here.

Lowell-area officials weigh in on concept of supervised injection facility to combat opioid epidemic

Posted in opioids on August 8th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Be the first to comment

The Greater-Lowell area, like so many areas across the state and the country, is facing a serious opioid crisis.  Lowell Sun reporter Rick Sobey spoke with  Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society and officials from the area about the concept of a supervised injection facility in or around Lowell.

Click here to read the piece.

Mass. Medical Society reacts to latest attempt to repeal ACA

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31st, 2017 by MMS Communications – Be the first to comment

Massachusetts Medical Society: MMS Statement on the Affordable Care Act

The following is a statement from Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, regarding efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

Dr. Henry Dorkin

Dr. Henry Dorkin

“(Last week’s) vote (a demonstration of due democratic process) against a so-called ‘skinny’ repeal of the Affordable Care Act helps protect the health care of millions of America’s patients. From coast to coast, including here in the Commonwealth, Americans have voiced their concern about, and opposition to, outright repeal of the ACA. We are grateful to the majority of U.S. Senators, including Senator Ed Markey and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who demonstrated their commitment to fighting on behalf of their constituents’ access to health care. We also thank Senators Collins, Murkowski and McCain and applaud their efforts to keep any Americans from losing their health care access.

“It is long-standing policy of the Massachusetts Medical Society that we advocate for universal access to insurance coverage. None of the legislative options presented in recent months – neither straightforward repeal, repeal-and-replace nor this ‘skinny’ repeal – would have advanced the mission of promoting reliable, affordable, effective insurance coverage for our patients. A health care bill should actually improve the health of Americans, not worsen it.

“Once again, we urge Congress to join representatives of the medical community in collaborating on legislation that would improve, strengthen and sustain the Affordable Care Act, which has extended health coverage to record numbers of Americans. Now is the time to abandon efforts at repeal and instead focus on how to make the ACA work even better for more of our neighbors and patients.”

Mass. Medical Society: Marijuana bill ‘a significant step forward’

Posted in Uncategorized on July 19th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Mass. Medical Society: Marijuana bill ‘a significant step forward’

Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, released the following statement regarding the marijuana bill compromise:

 

“The Massachusetts Medical Society commends and thanks the Legislature for its diligence and thoughtful leadership and recommendations toward installing protections for the public’s health. We’re pleased that many facets of the bill are consistent with the advocacy efforts put forth by our membership. From a public health perspective, this compromise bill represents a significant step forward.

 

“Inclusion of public health experts within the Cannabis Control Commission structure and funding earmarked for public and behavioral health, prevention, treatment, intervention and critical research related to marijuana use demonstrate a focus on the health of the people of Massachusetts.

 

“We are encouraged by the labeling and packaging requirements and the incorporation of warnings on marijuana products, as well as marketing and advertising restrictions in place to reduce youth consumption.

 

“We look forward to working in tandem with the Cannabis Control Commission on developing and implementing strategies that will increase protections and safety for all Massachusetts residents.”

Doctor discusses broaching gun safety with patients

Posted in Gun Safety, Public Health, Uncategorized on July 14th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Doctor discusses broaching gun safety with patients

A mistake turned deadly last week when a Chicago-area teenager mishandled a gun in his home, leading to the accidental shooting of his 17-year-old girlfriend.

While child-involved accidental shootings are prominent – a child dies from an accidental shooting every other day in the United States, according to a joint investigation by USA Today Network and the Associated Press – these accidents can be reduced or avoided, and physicians can be a conduit to to a decrease.

According to a recent report, a child is killed accidentally by a gun every other day in the US.

In a recent interview (you can view it here), Dr. Michael Hirsh, a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Committee on Public Health and pediatric surgery chief at UMass Memorial Medical Center, said he believes firearm safety should be part of a larger, honest conversation about health and safety that takes place between a physician and patients.

Dr. Hirsh also suggests physicians make use of the Mass. Medical Society’s resources on gun safety. Developed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, literature for patients and, for physicians, helpful tips on broaching the subject of gun safety with patients, the materials can be viewed and downloaded here, along with training videos.

The Massachusetts Medical Society is strongly opposed to legislative interference in the right of physicians and patients (or their parents or guardians) to discuss gun ownership, storage, and safety in the home.

 

Mass. Medical Society supports bill that would end discrimination against gay men wishing to donate blood

Posted in discrimination, Health Policy, HIV, Uncategorized on July 13th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Mass. Medical Society supports bill that would end discrimination against gay men wishing to donate blood

 

Earlier this month, Jimmy Kimmel took to Twitter and leveraged his significant social media profile to encourage blood and platelet donation.

Staff and volunteers attached to blood donation centers across the nation have in recent weeks furiously stepped up donor recruiting efforts.

The summer season – and, specifically, the Fourth of July holiday – is a predictable time in which a blood shortage or “summer slump” may occur.  No matter the season, however, blood supply shortage puts patients’ lives at risk, including those who may need blood after an accident or who are facing treatment for cancer and blood diseases.

The media coverage of the nation’s most recent shortage brings to the forefront the fact that an entire segment of the United States is barred from giving blood, and a shift in that policy would increase the pool of potential donors and likely lessen the shortage and save additional lives.

The Massachusetts Medical Society is proud to support Rep. Daniel Cullinane (D – 12th Suffolk) and of HB 3597, An Act relative to eliminating discrimination in blood donations. This bill would require blood donation facilities not to discriminate against prospective donors on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation, while allowing those facilities to require proof of a negative HIV test prior to accepting donated blood.

Currently, FDA regulations recommend that men who have sex with men be deferred from donating blood.

The MMS has a long history of advocating to remove discrimination based on sexual orientation. MMS policy “strongly supports the rights of individuals to health, happiness, and liberty regardless of sexual orientation…and urges all governments to recognize these rights.” Accordingly, MMS policy favors lifting the FDA deferral of blood donation for men who have sex with men: “The MMS supports a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.” Accordingly, we recognize the importance of testing donated blood for HIV/AIDs, and we commend this legislation for stipulating that blood donation facilities may require individuals to provide negative HIV test results prior to donating to ensure the safety of our Commonwealth’s blood supply.

We wish to note that, while our policy refers specifically to enacting policy change on a federal level to address this issue, making this change at the state level is consistent with the MMS’s anti-discriminatory stance. Massachusetts has a chance to be a leader on this important shift in policy, and we as a medical society stand proudly with Rep. Cullinane at the forefront of this change.

Furthermore, this bill would not only combat discrimination based on sexual orientation; it would also save lives by increasing the supply of donor blood. The Commonwealth currently faces a shortage of donated blood: the American Red Cross issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations this year. This bill would add to the pool of potential donors in Massachusetts.

The MMS urges the Committee on Public Health to report H.3597 out of Committee favorably.

 

 

 

 

 

Video games with a concussion? Drs. Macnow and Karlin discuss concussions, brain injury

Posted in Concussions on July 5th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Video games with a concussion? Drs. Macnow and Karlin discuss concussions, brain injury

Theodore Macnow, M.D., pediatric emergency physician, talks with Bruce Karlin, M.D., and answers these frequently asked questions: What exactly is a concussion? How do I know if I have a concussion?
Should I take time off school, work, or sports? If I have symptoms, why is it risky to push through them? Why is my doctor telling me it’s best to sleep? Is it OK to play video games?

Watch the video here.

MMS weighs in on Better Care Reconciliation Act

Posted in Affordable Care Act on July 5th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on MMS weighs in on Better Care Reconciliation Act

Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, released the following statement regarding the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

“We do have serious initial concerns about the effect that this legislation would have on patients, especially those who are covered by Medicaid.

“Medicaid is an essential entitlement for the tens of millions of Americans who depend on it for their health, and even for their lives. This bill, just like the House bill, will permanently end Medicaid as an entitlement program, resulting in serious reductions in funding and access to care for to children, seniors and people with disabilities. Any cuts to Medicaid – even if they are delayed – will leave too many low-income, disabled, or elderly patients without the coverage on which they depend. Our health care system will be forced to return to one in which patients must choose between needed care and other essential expenses. The Massachusetts Medical Society stands by the principle that all Americans should have access to the health benefits that cover their needs.

“We cannot forget that patients who are covered by Medicaid are a part of the overall healthcare system. Dismantling the system that keeps them covered and able to access care will not only hurt them, it will represent a step back for the health care system as a whole.

“Moreover, now is not the time to impose dramatic cuts to funding for opioid treatment and recovery programs. As the opioid epidemic grows across the country – including here in the Commonwealth, where roughly 2,000 people died of opioid-related overdoses last year – we must invest in programs to stem the tide, not slash programs that can help save lives.

“We urge members of the Senate to reject this legislation and to work with their colleagues in the House to collaborate on legislation that would strengthen and sustain the Affordable Care Act, which has extended health coverage to record numbers of Americans. We thank the members of our Massachusetts Congressional Delegation for their unwavering support for comprehensive coverage for our patients.”

Public Health Forum: The Social Determinants of Health

Posted in Health, Health Policy, Public Health, Public Health Leadership Forum on March 9th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Public Health Forum: The Social Determinants of Health

MMS President Dr. James S. Gessner

Good health includes much more than access to care. Research has demonstrated that a range of factors – such as environmental conditions, education, employment, and social and economic status – play key roles in a person’s health.

These factors – the “social determinants of health care” – will be the focus of the Medical Society’s 13th annual Public Health Leadership Forum taking place on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 from 1 – 5 p.m.

“Access to care and our health care system are certainly essential to good health,” says James S. Gessner, M.D., President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, “but a host of other factors come into play that contribute to healthy behaviors and prevent premature death. It’s important for the medical community to recognize all those elements and how they affect a patient’s health, and to be prepared to counsel their patients in a way that reflects social factors.”

The forum, entitled Social Determinants of Health: Improving Population Health Through Prevention- Based Care, will examine what policy makers and the medical community can do to acknowledge the impact of these factors on health.

Hosted by Dr. Gessner and Steven Ringer, M.D., chair of the MMS Committee on Public Health, the forum will be moderated by Harold Cox, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Featured Speakers are Thea James, M.D., Vice President of Mission and Associated Chief Medical Officer at Boston Medical Center, who will deliver the keynote address, and Monica Bharel, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, who will speak during the second half of the program.  The program also includes panel discussions with local experts on the topic.

For the complete agenda and to register for the event, click here.

 

 

The President’s Podium: Physicians and Gun Violence II

Posted in Public Health, violence on February 13th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on The President’s Podium: Physicians and Gun Violence II

by James S. Gessner, M.D., President, Massachusetts Medical Society

Last June, I devoted a President’s Podium to the subject of physicians and gun violence, noting our long-standing policy on firearm violence and the more recent efforts MMS has made to address this growing public health crisis.

Our latest activities include the creation of continuing medical education courses, based on content from our 2016 Public Health Leadership Forum, and a dedicated website at www.massmed.org/firearms, offering a variety of resources on firearm violence and gun safety.

Today I had the privilege of standing with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Massachusetts law enforcement officials to announce new initiatives in enhancing provider-patient relationships regarding firearms. I take this space to share my remarks from the press conference with you.

Madam Attorney General, on behalf of the physicians of Massachusetts, I thank you for the invitation to co-sponsor and participate in today’s event.  It is an honor to stand here with you, other health care leaders, and law enforcement officials to remind everyone what has been evident for some time:  that gun violence is a major public health threat.

That physicians are collaborating in this event and are taking a stand against gun violence alongside law enforcement should not be considered unusual. For more than 20 years, our state medical society has been engaged in efforts to reduce violence in many forms. 

The physicians of our Committee on Violence Intervention and Prevention since 1995 have provided resources for both physicians, health care providers, and patients in such areas as intimate partner violence, bullying, child abuse, and human trafficking.  Gun violence has been prominent among those topics.


Physician efforts at gun violence have been directed at reducing deaths and injuries, making gun ownership safer, promoting education among health providers, and encouraging research to understand the risk factors related to gun violence.

The numbers alone make it abundantly clear that firearm violence is indeed a public health issue: more than 130 mass shootings have occurred in 39 states since 2009; more than 36,000 persons die from firearm injuries in the United States every year with 64 percent being suicides and 33 percent homicides; on an average day, more than 90 Americans are killed with guns, including seven children and teenagers; and for every person killed by a gun, two more are injured.  The number of deaths from firearms are rivaling those from motor vehicle accidents and in many states have surpassed vehicle fatalities.

Massachusetts, however, stands out, with the lowest gun death rate in the country for 2015, the last year for which statistics are available.  We may pride ourselves on having the lowest death rate, but let us remember that 213 people in Massachusetts still lost their lives to firearms in that year.    

Strong firearm laws have contributed to the state’s low death rate.  But awareness and education must also play important roles, and the Massachusetts Medical Society is pleased to continue its educational efforts in collaboration with Attorney General Healey’s office and law enforcement leaders across the state in educating individuals about safe storage and disposal of firearms, and in encouraging health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety.  These efforts complement our Society’s continuing medical education courses on firearm violence.

Increasingly, physicians are making their voices heard about gun violence.

Two years ago, more than one dozen physician organizations, along with the American Public Health Association and the American Bar Association, issued a call to action, declaring that deaths and injuries from firearms are a major public health problem in the United States.  Last year, the American Medical Association adopted a policy calling gun violence in the United States a “public health crisis.”

Also last year, our medical society sponsored a public health forum on firearm violence, featuring community leaders and public health and law enforcement officials, and Attorney General Healey was kind enough to accept our invitation to be the keynote speaker for that event.

In her remarks, she highlighted the importance of physician participation in curbing gun violence, and said it will require a “partnership” with physicians.  Physicians agree, Ms. Healey, and I will conclude my remarks by saying “You can count on that.”  

The President’s Podium appears periodically on the MMS blog, offering Dr. Gessner’s commentary on a range of issues in health and medicine.

Pictured: Covers of brochures for patients and physicians/health care providers provided by the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General and the Massachusetts Medical Society and endorsed by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police. Available free via download from www.massmed.org/firearms