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Massachusetts Medical Society launches Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum series for doctors, healthcare providers

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28th, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Massachusetts Medical Society launches Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum series for doctors, healthcare providers

The Massachusetts Medical Society, together with Dr. Stephen B. Corn and Dr. Meredith Fisher-Corn from medical education website TheAnswerPage.com, has developed a Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum intended to equip doctors and healthcare providers with a robust training on the medical, legal and social issues regarding marijuana use.

“With legalization of both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana growing in states across the U.S., it is imperative that physicians be prepared to answer questions about marijuana use and to counsel their patients about any potential impact of cannabis,” said Dr. Henry L. Dorkin, FAAP, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

 

The online course was reviewed by the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Committee on Sponsored Programs and by Dr. Alan Ehrlich, an assistant clinical professor in Family Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and deputy editor for DynaMed.

“The Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum is neither an endorsement of the usage of cannabinoid medications by the Massachusetts Medical Society nor a recommendation to impede healthcare professionals from considering utilization of medical cannabis,” Dorkin said.  “We are confident that the curriculum, which was subject to multiple layers of expert review, will provide the data needed to facilitate (between patients and their healthcare providers) informed, balanced, transparent and important conversations, based upon the strongest and most comprehensive research available at present.”

The Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum expands significantly on the Society’s existing continuing medical education offerings on the medical uses of cannabis.

The course provides details of the endocannabinoid system and its interactions with medical cannabis, cannabis administration, dosing, contraindications, metabolism and drug interactions.  Studies addressing the physiologic, cognitive and mental health effects of cannabis are reviewed in detail.

Additional modules are focused on the medical use of cannabis for 10 distinct disease states, including ALS, cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s Disease, IBS, multiple sclerosis and spasticity, neuropathic pain and Parkinson’s Disease.

“The course addresses a huge knowledge deficit clinicians have regarding risks and benefits of marijuana and other cannbinoinds,” Dr. Ehrlich said. “The chapters have been written by leading experts and the presentation is very balanced with an emphasis on the best available evidence. This is just what doctors need to be able to have constructive conversations with their patients when the subject of medical marijuana comes up.”

TheAnswerPage has been offering medical educational content worldwide since 1998, providing peer-reviewed content focused on medical cannabis, pain and the opioid epidemic.

 

 

Mass. Medical Society reacts to latest attempt to repeal ACA

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31st, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Mass. Medical Society reacts to latest attempt to repeal ACA

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.

 

 

 

 

 

January Physician Focus: Too much medicine?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 3rd, 2017 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on January Physician Focus: Too much medicine?

 

The conventional wisdom in medicine says that more care leads to better health, as annual physicals and regular screenings may lead to the early detection of diseases.  Research shows, however, that many medical tests and procedures are unnecessary and in some cases, can cause harm.

Dr. Dale Magee (l), Dr. H. Gilbert Welch

Dr. Dale Magee (l), Dr. H. Gilbert Welch

The January edition of Physician Focus examines the subject of ‘too much medicine’ with Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a general internist, Professor of Medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, and author of Less Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care.  Hosting this edition is MMS Past President Dale Magee, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UMass Medical School.

Dr. Welch acknowledges that the screening of at-risk populations makes sense and that it’s a good thing to see a physician when something is wrong, but cautions that, amid a push for more testing in medicine today, “all treatments have some harms” and that the downside of early detection can be “a recipe for turning well people into patients unnecessarily.”  He urges patients to be cautious, to talk to their physicians, and to inform themselves about the pros and cons of testing and screening.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, and on YouTube.

Editor’s Note: In November, Dr. Welch delivered the 41st Annual Garland Lecture, “Less Medicine, More Health,” at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.  Video of his lecture is available at the above link.

December Physician Focus: Superbugs

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on December Physician Focus: Superbugs

The spread of “superbugs” – germs, bacteria, fungi, and parasites that are resistant to the medications intended to kill them – is a rising concern in medicine. Each year in the United States, two million people become infected with drug-resistant bacteria, and some 23,000 die as a result of those infections.

Dr. Bruce Karlin (l); Dr. Alfred DeMaria Jr.

Dr. Bruce Karlin (l); Dr. Alfred DeMaria Jr.

The December edition of Physician Focus discusses “superbugs” with Alfred DeMaria Jr., M.D., Medical Director and State Epidemiologist of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Among the topics of conversation are how these bugs originate, how severe the threat is, what public health officials are doing to address these conditions, what patients can do to protect themselves, and the importance of the proper use of antibiotics in curbing the spread of these infections.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, and on YouTube.

IM-16 Town Hall Forum: All about MACRA

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5th, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on IM-16 Town Hall Forum: All about MACRA

The Town Hall Forum with the Presidential Officers held Friday evening as part of IM-16 occupied a singular subject: MACRA, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which MMS President James S. Gessner, M.D. characterized as “perhaps the most revolutionary change in Medicare reimbursement since the inception of Medicare.”

Alex Calcagno

Alex Calcagno

The 2,400-page rule was the object of MMS advocacy on both the Federal and state levels, and MMS comments on the proposals amounted to more than 22 pages. Many of the comments were incorporated into the final document.

The Forum was a presentation by MMS staff member Alex Calcagno, Director of Advocacy, Government and Community Relations and the primary liaison between MMS and the federal government, and had three goals:  (1) presenting a general overview of the provisions of the rule; (2) outlining the time frame of implementation and the choices physicians have in participating; and (3) citing resources available for physicians to help them through the process.

The MMS has established a dedicated webpage for MACRA at www.massmed.org/MACRA, which provides information and resources on the rule. Additional information is available from the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services.  Members are urged to check the sites frequently, as information is added as it becomes available.

Ms. Calcagno’s presentation may be viewed here.

 

Senator Markey Headlines MMS Opioid Summit

Posted in Health, Health Policy, opioids, Public Health, Uncategorized on November 1st, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Senator Markey Headlines MMS Opioid Summit

On October 31, MMS sponsored a leadership summit on opioid addiction, Medication Assisted Treatment: Improving Access to Evidence-Based Care, an event intended to raise awareness of the need for medication assisted treatment for substance use disorder. The summit was attended by nearly 200 health care professionals at MMS headquarters in Waltham.

U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey, in his keynote address, said, “If we are going to reduce the supply for heroin, fentanyl, and illicit prescription opioids, we have to reduce the demand through treatment.”

“I will not stop fighting for legislative support on this issue,” Sen. Markey added, noting that despite his efforts and those of his colleagues, Congress has repeatedly rejected bills that would financially support addiction recovery programs.

He decried the rising numbers of deaths in Massachusetts due to overdoses  — doubling in number in the Bay State in one year — and warned that due to the potent influx of fentanyl from China and Mexico, “we are poised to lose even more lives.”

Gathered for the Opioid Summit: Dr. Dennis Dimitri, Dr. Monica Bharel, Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Senator Edward Markey, MMS President Dr. James Gessner, MMS President-Elect Dr. Henry Dorkin, MMS Vice President Dr. Alain Chaoui

Gathered for the Opioid Summit: Dr. Dennis Dimitri, Dr. Monica Bharel, Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Senator Edward Markey, MMS President Dr. James Gessner, MMS President-Elect Dr. Henry Dorkin, MMS Vice President Dr. Alain Chaoui

“Fentanyl is like a Class 5 hurricane making landfall,” Sen. Markey said. “It is the Godzilla of opioids. It is trending too quickly. It is so dangerous that first responders insist on wearing HazMat suits when they arrive at a scene of an overdose for fear they will become contaminated if exposed to it. We just don’t know how dangerous it is, and it’s coming to every street in America.”

Combatting the opioid epidemic requires vigilance coupled with “aggressive data collection, surveillance, increased prescriber and patient education, and the passage of aggressive new laws,” he said, that are aimed at controlling the influx and consumption of opioid drugs.

Markey alerted attendees to a report by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on opioids due to be released early in 2017.

“The Surgeon General’s report on opioids will have a great societal impact,” Sen. Markey said, “similar to when the former Surgeon General years ago released the report about the health hazards of cigarette smoking. History will judge us, because now is our opportunity to respond to the greatest public health crisis in the 21st century.”

Several speakers, including Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, M.D., Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian, and others called for a unified effort to destigmatize those who struggle with substance abuse.

“Treatment works, recovery is possible,” Koutoujian said. He described treatment programs sponsored by the Bay State’s criminal justice system that are helping inmates to return to society after incarceration better able to control their drug habits.

Dr. Bharel reminded the capacity audience to commit to viewing substance abuse addiction through the lens of the #StateWithoutStigMA campaign, launched last year by Governor Charlie Baker’s Opioid Working Group. The statewide campaign aims to eradicate the negative stereotype of drug misuse by declaring it to be a treatable illness.

MMS gathered more than a dozen national and local experts on the topic for this summit to speak to such topics as the treatment of addiction as a disease, the importance of psychological treatment and behavioral support, models of care, and supporting physicians and providers in treating opioid use disorders. It was hosted by MMS President James S. Gessner, M.D. and moderated by Dennis M. Dimitri, M.D., immediate past president and Chair of the MMS Task Force on Opioid Therapy and Physician Communication.

Presentations by the participants may be viewed here.  For highlights and photos from the event visit the MMS Twitter page.

November Physician Focus: Choosing Your Care

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31st, 2016 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on November Physician Focus: Choosing Your Care

Health care is undergoing rapid change today, affecting hospitals, physicians, and patients alike in many ways.  These changes are making the health care system increasingly complex, raising questions and confusion for patients. How to simplify the process, get questions answered, limit the confusion, and obtain good, quality care are key elements that patients should consider when choosing their care.  The November edition of Physician Focus examines those areas and others in discussing the important factors patients should consider when choosing their health care.

Dr. Bruce Karlin, Dr. Barbara Spivak

Dr. Bruce Karlin, Dr. Barbara Spivak

The guest for this program is Barbara Spivak, M.D., a primary care physician with Mount Auburn Medical Associates in Cambridge and Chair of the MMS Committee on Quality of Medical Practice. Dr. Spivak is also president and Chair of the Board of the Mount Auburn Cambridge Independent Practice Association and Vice Chair of Massachusetts Health Quality Partners.  Hosting this program is Bruce Karlin, M.D.

Among the topics of conversation are the best ways to select a physician, online sites that rate physicians, the trend to team-based care and how it affects patients, and what patients should do if they decide they don’t like their doctor.

Physician Focus is distributed to public access television stations throughout Massachusetts, reaching residents in more than 275 cities and towns. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus and on YouTube.