Watch Dr. Chaoui’s inauguration remarks

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3rd, 2018 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Watch Dr. Chaoui’s inauguration remarks

“We make the commitment to be at our best – every time a patient enters the exam room. We must treat the 20th patient of the day with the same respect, compassion and mental clarity with which we treated the first – regardless of our exhaustion, the paperwork that lies ahead, or our commitments waiting for us at home. At that moment, each patient is our first, and only, priority.”

Dr. Alain A. Chaoui is the 136th president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. If you were unable to attend the 2018 Annual Meeting, you can view Dr. Chaoui’s inauguration speech here.  See his heartfelt thank yous to those who have helped him throughout his career in medicine, his thoughts on physician burnout and even a reference to one of the most iconic scenes in the history of American television. 

Dr. Alain A. Chaoui

Cost-cutting measures should not be at the expense of patient care – Dr. Dorkin

Posted in Health Policy, Medicare, Medicine on April 2nd, 2018 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Cost-cutting measures should not be at the expense of patient care – Dr. Dorkin

It’s no secret that health care in the United States – including here in the Commonwealth – is expensive, and the rising cost of prescription drugs plays no small role in that.

However, as physicians who are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our patients, we cannot prioritize cost-cutting measures over the ability of our patients to get the treatment they need.

I understand firsthand the importance of treatment options when it comes to the children for whom I provide care. Quite simply, some medicines work better for certain patients. When it comes to asthma or cystic fibrosis – conditions that I treat – the difference between medicines can mean life or death.

I also know that new medications can make life-changing differences in the health of my patients. Once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has completed its thorough review of a new drug – after years and years of research and development – it is imperative that I be able to introduce that medicine to appropriate patients, rather than waiting for an additional state-level review.

I raise these points because of my concern – as a physician and as the president of the MMS – with the proposed MassHealth closed drug formulary.

Our Massachusetts health program, admittedly, takes up a large share of the state budget. At the same time, the benefit to our community is significant, and it is why the Commonwealth is viewed as a trailblazer when it comes to health care delivery innovation.

All of our patients matter. Those who are covered by MassHealth – adults and the disabled who get their care through Medicaid and children who are insured under the Children’s Health Insurance Program – deserve just as much access to care as any other patient.

A closed drug formulary will limit the ability of physicians to give their patients the care they need. While a proposed exception process has been created, this will only lead to additional delays in treatment for patients and administrative burdens for doctors. Again, this is not in the interest of improved patient health, but rather in reduced health care costs; that’s why we urge MassHealth to accept physician input in creating this process.

In light of a renewed dialogue about the MassHealth closed drug formulary proposal, I urge MMS members to revisit our submitted comments, and share your thoughts on the impact of such a formulary, if implemented, in the comments to this post.

Again – the Medical Society recognizes the difficulties in balancing MassHealth’s mission to provide comprehensive care to roughly two million residents with the very real budget limitations that the program faces. We simply want to ensure that the tough decisions this balance requires do not interfere with quality care for the patients of the Commonwealth.

Henry L. Dorkin, M.D, FAAP, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

MGH resident Stephanie Rutledge, M.D. wins Mass. Medical Society Information Technology award

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26th, 2018 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on MGH resident Stephanie Rutledge, M.D. wins Mass. Medical Society Information Technology award

Dr. Stephanie Rutledge

Dr. Stephanie Rutledge, a second-year medicine resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, is the winner of the 2018 Massachusetts Medical Society’s Information Technology Award, thanks to an app designed to improve clinical skills.

The honor recognizes the development of an information technology tool that helps physicians practice medicine, teach medicine, or pursue clinical research. Two awards of $3,000 each are presented annually by the Massachusetts Medical Society, one to a medical student and one to a resident or fellow.

Rutledge created the ‘NeuroCog’ app to promote the focus on excellent clinical skills in medical schools and hospitals.

She has been awarded a grant for the app from the Center for Educational Innovation and Scholarship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and she continues to develop and expand the innovation at Harvard Medical School and at MGH.

Rutledge’s current research projects include evaluating the app’s effect on the acquisition of clinical skills by medical students, the use of inertial sensors to predict hospital readmission rates, novel therapeutics in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the safety of direct-acting antivirals in hepatitis C. She been published in over ten peer-reviewed journals, and has presented her work both nationally and internationally.

A native of Dublin, Ireland, Rutledge graduated first in her medical class from University College Dublin in 2013, having been awarded 18 academic medals. She did post-graduate medical training in Ireland before moving to Boston in 2016. Dr. Rutledge’s career interests include medical education, clinical research in hepatology, and the use of innovative technology to improve patient care. She is especially interested in medical student education and in keeping the art of physical examination alive in medical schools.

 

Dr. Paul Satwicz is Charles River Medical Society 2018 Community Clinician of the Year

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19th, 2018 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Dr. Paul Satwicz is Charles River Medical Society 2018 Community Clinician of the Year

Paul Satwicz, MD, an anesthesiologist, and founder and former director of the pain management service at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, has been selected as the Charles River District Medical Society’s 2018 Community Clinician of the Year, an award recognizing his professionalism and contributions as a physician.

Dr. Satwicz, also an assistant clinical professor of anesthesiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, is often lauded by his peers for his calm and focused approach to interacting with patients facing surgical procedures.

Dr. Satwicz

Dr. Satwicz, who graduated from the University of Michigan and attended medical school at the University of California, San Francisco was nominated for the Community Clinician of the Year award by colleague Heidi Fischer, MD, an ophthalmologist on staff at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

Dr. Fischer remarked that Dr. Satwicz “displays a genuine value of caring in his routine actions.”

Active in his community and generous with his time, Dr. Satwicz volunteers to teach ice skating to children through the Special Olympics and the Bay State Speed Skating Club. He also serves as a volunteer medic at sporting events and has traveled abroad to administer medical care to those less fortunate.

Together with his wife, Nancy, a Newton-Wellesley operating room nurse, Dr. Satwicz has instilled in his children – a nurse, an accomplished inventor and an Army Ranger – a deep regard for service and selflessness. Dr. Satwicz also enjoys spending time with his 31/2-month-old granddaughter Katherine.

The Community Clinician of the Year Award was established in 1998 by the Massachusetts Medical Society to recognize a physician from each of the organization’s 20 district societies who has made significant contributions to his or her patients and the community.

Dr. Dorkin offers clarification on new medical aid-in-dying policy

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25th, 2018 by MMS Communications – 2 Comments

At the beginning of December, the MMS House of Delegates – the Medical Society’s policy-making arm – voted to rescind our long-standing policy of opposition to what we previously called “physician-assisted suicide.”

This was not an easy decision, of course. We represent 25,000 physicians and medical trainees, and each of those members has strong opinions based on unique factors such as their professional experiences, personal and family histories, faith identification, and more.

What made this decision possible was that on an overcast New England Saturday – concluding a year-long process of research and analysis –  hundreds of MMS members debated, discussed, and word-smithed until we felt that we had come together on a statement of policy that clearly delineated a position of “neutral engagement” on medical aid-in-dying as well as an explanation of what that means – and what its limitations are.

As the president overseeing this Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates, I was proud to watch a core group of senior physicians, physicians in practice, resident physicians, and medical students gather to debate the intricacies of language and complexities of the role of the physician in various forms of end of life care.

Unfortunately, despite this impressive collaboration, the robust parliamentary procedure that followed, and the vote of the full House of Delegates, there appears to remain some confusion regarding our policy. On this page, I’d like to provide a few thoughts regarding what the House of Delegates laid out in our newly adopted policy and how the Medical Society is moving forward on that policy.

In assuming the term “neutral engagement,” the House of Delegates stipulated that the MMS serve “as a medical and scientific resource to inform legislative efforts that will support patient and physician shared decision making regarding medical aid-in-dying, provided that physicians shall not be required to provide medical aid-in-dying that involves prescribing lethal doses of medication if it violates personally held ethical principles.”

The second point – that physicians shall not be compelled to assist patients with this particular form of medical aid-in-dying – is, of course, important. It allows physicians to maintain their autonomy and choose what level of care to provide to their patients.

But the first part is also important. It makes clear that in withdrawing our opposition, we are not assuming a position of support for legislative efforts regarding this particular form of medical aid-in-dying. Instead, we are promising to play an educational role to ensure that any such legislative efforts do not inadvertently put our patients at unintended risk of any sort. The Medical Society could weigh in on legislation per this policy, if, hypothetically, a bill were filed that did not provide assurances of patient capacity, or if clinical research showed that certain requirements of a mental health evaluation are particularly important to provide adequate safeguards in any pending bill.

In all things advocacy-related, we bring our physicians’ perspective to policy considerations and speak on behalf of patients when it is appropriate for us to provide medical insight.

The updated policy also states that the MMS “will support its members regarding clinical, ethical, and legal considerations of medical aid-in-dying, through education, advocacy, and/or the provision of other resources, whether or not members choose to practice it.”

Again, this is important. We are not at the present time promising to support this particular form of medical aid-in-dying, as that would contradict our position of neutral engagement.

We recognize, however, that just as the MMS is an advocacy organization, it is also a member-focused educational organization. If at a future time it is appropriate for our members to learn about the complex considerations associated with this form of medical aid-in-dying, we will work with relevant experts to create resources for our members to make informed decisions about their own practices – again, taking into account their own personal and professional histories and priorities.

The MMS members who brought their voices to the creation of this policy did so in the interests of positioning the Medical Society to support our members and their patients without asserting a particular legislative position in the future. I cannot emphasize enough the commitment that they showed.

That’s why it is imperative that this very carefully crafted policy be referenced accurately, and not be misinterpreted to suggest that at the present time, the MMS is taking a particular pro or con position in order to  influence the legislative process.

I’ll close with one final comment: the updated policy also makes clear that palliative, hospice, and compassionate care are essential parts of end-of-life care. We will continue to educate our members and their patients about the steps that patients can take to get the care that is right for them at the end of their lives

  • Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

Statement on HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24th, 2018 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Statement on HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

As physicians, we have an obligation to ensure patients are treated with dignity while accessing and receiving the best possible care to meet their clinical needs.  We will not and cannot, in good conscience, compromise our responsibility to heal the sick based upon a patient’s racial identification, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, disability, immigration status, or economic status. In view of this, the Massachusetts Medical Society is disappointed in and concerned by the Department of Health and Human Services’ formation of a ”Conscience and Religious Freedom” Division.

-Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

Ten Tips for Making It Through a Massachusetts Winter

Posted in Uncategorized on December 27th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Ten Tips for Making It Through a Massachusetts Winter

By Susan Moynihan, MD, and Shreekant Vasudhev, MD

With falling temperatures signifying the inevitable change of the season, many New Englanders have begun preparing for another unpredictable winter. In our retirement years, winter can be a difficult and dangerous few months. If you’re retired,  or if you have senior family, friends, and neighbors —that means all of us — we can work together to help keep everyone healthier and safer. Many of the following tips are useful for everyone, regardless of our age and health:

1          Check in on each other. Taking care of one another starts with checking regularly on elderly neighbors during the winter months, especially before, during, and after storms in which a power outage has occurred.

2          Get vaccinated. Winter can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions. Those conditions, including heart failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, influenza, and even the common cold, can lead to serious health consequences. One of the most important things you can do to protect your health in the winter is to get a flu vaccination. You may also want to talk with your physician about a pneumonia vaccination.

3          Always carry your cell phone. The outdoor elements can be a significant source of danger. Take precautions with every outdoor activity, from shoveling snow to simply walking to the mailbox. Call for help if needed. You can get additional protection from a commercial medical-alert system, which you can wear and activate to signal for help in an emergency.

4          Shovel slowly, or ask for help with shoveling. A sudden increase in physical activity — especially in the cold — can aggravate conditions like heart failure, asthma, and COPD. If you’re sick or have physical limitations, don’t hesitate to ask a friend or neighbor for help with shoveling snow.

5          If you fall, call for help immediately. Walking on snow or ice comes with the risk of a slip-and-fall accident. Falls can be potentially life-threatening, especially if you have osteoporosis. Getting help quickly greatly increases the chances of you making a satisfactory recovery from any injuries.

6          Wear boot grips or cleats. A couple of precautions can reduce your risk of slipping and falling. Over-the-sole slip-on cleats can improve traction on slippery surfaces. Fit them onto your snow boots at the start of the season and keep your boots by a chair near the door.

7          Stay physically active. A regular fitness routine can help, too. Regular, moderate physical activity can help maintain your muscle strength, which will subsequently improve balance and your ability to catch yourself if your start to slip.

8          Check out home heating resources. Be thoughtful too about your safety at home. If your home isn’t adequately heated, there’s a risk of hypothermia. Winter heating can be costly; if you’re concerned, it is critically important that you know about helpful resources.  Check with your local Council on Aging or senior center for information on free or reduced heating fuel for seniors.

9          Eat well. Proper nutrition through the winter is also important. It may be harder to get to the store, especially if you live alone, and living on canned foods isn’t a great fix (for example, they’re high in sodium). Most communities or regions have programs that can help seniors tap into nutrition-based services like meal delivery and transportation to local grocery stores. Again, check with your local Council on Aging or senior center.

10        Watch our show. For more on winter safety for the elderly, go online to watch Physician Focus, the public access TV show produced by the Massachusetts Medical Society and HCAM-TV. Visit massmedical.org and go to “News and Publications” to watch Winter is Coming, the current episode, featuring more winter survival strategies.

 

Dr. Susan Moynihan practices with North Shore Physicians Group. Dr. Shreekant Vasudhev is a physician at Baystate Medical Center.

 

 

ICYMI: Dr. Dorkin pens pro-SIF piece for Stat

Posted in Uncategorized on December 18th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on ICYMI: Dr. Dorkin pens pro-SIF piece for Stat

Massachusetts Medical Society president Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP last week authored a piece for the health care-focused media outlet, Stat News, during which he outlined the organization’s stance on the need to pilot a supervised injection facility in the Commonwealth.

“As we continue to look for ways to increase access to recovery programs for those with opioid use disorder, we must remember that in order to get people into recovery, they must first stay alive,” Dr. Dorkin wrote at the conclusion of his opinion piece.

You can read the entire column, here.

MMS: 37,000 free opioid and pain management classes taken by prescribers

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21st, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on MMS: 37,000 free opioid and pain management classes taken by prescribers

The Massachusetts Medical Society  announced that more than 13,000 individuals have taken one or more of its 19 opioid and pain management-focused continuing medical education courses, which have been available free to all prescribers since May of 2015.

To date, 37,000 courses have been completed.

Of the more than 13,000 users who have taken advantage of the resource since its launch, 84 percent were physicians and 62 percent of the unique users practice in Massachusetts.

Topics covered within the online courses include safe prescribing for chronic pain, screening for opioid abuse disorder, managing pain without overusing opioids, and therapies that can serve as an alternative to the prescribing of opioids.

“Reversing the trend of the opioid epidemic is of utmost importance to the Massachusetts Medical Society,” Society President Henry L. Dorkin, M.D., FAAP, said. “Certainly, we are encouraged by the response and usage rate of the continuing medical education courses. Continuous, data-based education of prescribers is unquestionably a critical component of what needs to be a multi-pronged attack on the epidemic, and I’m proud that we are able to and will continue to offer this resource to our peers not only in Massachusetts, but across the nation.”

The Society last week supported Governor Charlie Baker’s opioid-combatting “CARE Act” and has deployed its membership base of 25,000 toward reducing harm caused by opioid abuse disorder by backing the state’s prescription drug-monitoring program and through its opioid-prescribing guidelines, which were developed by the organization’s Task Force on Opioid Therapy and Physician Communication.

 

 

MMS thoughts on Gov. Baker’s “Opioids 2.0 Bill”

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on MMS thoughts on Gov. Baker’s “Opioids 2.0 Bill”

Statement from Massachusetts Medical Society President Henry L. Dorkin, MD, FAAP, on “An Act Relative to Combatting Addiction, Accessing Treatment, Reducing Prescriptions and Enhancing Prevention”:

“The Massachusetts Medical Society applauds Governor Baker for his leadership and drive toward curbing the opioid crisis that continues to plague the Commonwealth, and commends the Legislature for its recognition that this public health crisis must be met with urgency and multi-faceted, data-backed tactics and measures. We appreciate the Commonwealth’s commitment to and investment in prevention and we stand in support of the intent of the proposed bill.

“We are gratified by the Governor’s continued support of a partial-fill law which will allow patients and physicians to reconnect upon completion of an initial course of treatment and determine whether further use of such pain medication is warranted and safe, or whether the remainder of the prescription need not be filled.

“The partial-fill approach to opioid prescribing remains a vital component in reducing opportunities for unused pain medication to be transferred from a patient to those who suffer from opioid abuse disorder or may be at risk of developing an opioid use disorder.

“Evidence-based prevention approaches to protect school-aged children from opioid abuse are essential tools, and we applaud the Governor for the provision establishing the Trust Fund for Prevention.

“The Medical Society commends the important discourse relative to the electronic prescribing of controlled substances. We appreciate the intent and the spirit of the provision promoting greater adoption of e-prescribing of controlled substances, and look forward to engaging with the administration on details of the proposal. A well-functioning, easy-to-use form of electronic controlled substance prescribing that improves and facilitates the physician’s ordering of such medication would be a boon to all concerned.

“We are optimistic and heartened by the decline in Schedule II opioid prescriptions, but recognize more work remains in the effort to reduce overdoses. Our goal, like the Governor’s, is an overdose mortality rate of zero.

“The Massachusetts Medical Society appreciates the opportunity to express our views and reiterates its appreciation to Governor Baker, his Department of Health and Human Services, and the Legislature for taking vital action on behalf of the Commonwealth, and we look forward to continuing to partner with the Governor and lawmakers on solutions designed to reduce the harm caused by the opioid epidemic.”