Physician Focus

February Physician Focus: The Physician’s Perspective on Prescription Drug Abuse

Posted in Drug Abuse, Health, opioids, Physician Focus, Public Health on January 30th, 2015 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on February Physician Focus: The Physician’s Perspective on Prescription Drug Abuse

Health and governmental officials at all levels are struggling with solutions to what has become one of the nation’s most pressing public health problems: prescription drug and opiate abuse.

Addiction experts, public officials, and even some physicians, have pointed to the medical profession as one cause of the problem. Physicians write too many prescriptions, they say.  But the fact that more than three out of four people who misuse prescription pain medicines use drugs that are prescribed to someone else is one indication that the problem arises from more than a single cause.

The February edition of Physician Focus, with a discussion among three physicians knowledgeable about the treatment of pain, pain medications, and opioid abuse, offers the perspectives of physicians on prescription drug and opioid abuse.

Participating in this conversation are Richard Pieters, M.D., (center, photo) President of the Massachusetts Medical Society and Professor of Radiation Oncology and Pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester; Daniel Alford, M.D., (right) Director of the Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education program at Boston University School of Medicine and the Director of the Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit at Boston Medical Center; and Barbara Herbert, M.D., (left) Medical Director of Addiction Service at Commonwealth Care Alliance and President-Elect of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, who serves as host for this program.

All three physicians bring their personal experiences in treating patients with pain to the discussion. Among the topics they address are the physicians’ viewpoints on the causes of opiate abuse; the prevalence of pain as a medical condition; the elements of effective and safe pain management; the distinctions among different kinds of pain; what steps physicians and patients can take, both individually and collectively, to reduce the abuse of pain medicines; and how physicians view the use of the prescription drug Narcan to prevent deaths from overdoses.

Physician Focus, now in its 11th consecutive year of production, is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, and on  YouTube.

January Physician Focus: Chronic Kidney Disease

Posted in Health, Medicine, Physician Focus, Public Health on December 31st, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on January Physician Focus: Chronic Kidney Disease

The kidneys are vital organs in the human body, performing such critical functions as cleaning blood, removing waste, and controlling blood pressure. Yet more than 20 million Americans have chronic kidney disease, a serious condition that raises the risks of heart attack, stroke, and end-stage kidney disease.

To create awareness among patients about the condition, Physician Focus begins 2015 with a guest appearance by Martin Gelman, M.D., (photo, right) a board-certified internist and nephrologist who practices at Milford Regional Medical Center and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. He joins program host Bruce Karlin, M.D., (photo, left) a primary care physician in Worcester, in conversation about various aspects of the disease.

Among the topics discussed are the functions of the kidney in the human body, the major causes and effects of chronic kidney disease, who is most at risk for the condition, kidney dialysis and transplants, and a look at what the future might hold in renal replacement therapy with a bio-implantable artificial kidney that has just been approved for clinical trials.

Physician Focus, now in its 11th consecutive year of production, is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at  www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org, and on YouTube.

December Physician Focus: Food and Your Health

Posted in Health, Physician Focus, Public Health on December 1st, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on December Physician Focus: Food and Your Health

What we eat and drink has an enormous effect on our health, yet for many, it’s one of the least understood and perhaps most neglected areas in health care.

The December edition of Physician Focus – in a two-part program – offers some of the latest information on how food affects our health from nutrition and dietary experts.

Guests are Edward Saltzman, M.D., (center, photo) Academic Dean for Education and Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at Tufts Medical Center, and Amy Taetzsch, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., (right) a registered dietician and weight loss counselor in the Energy Metabolism Lab at the Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Hosting this program is primary care physician Bruce Karlin, M.D. (left).

Among the topics of discussion are the elements of a healthy diet, the link between food and chronic disease, how consumers can make more informed choices about the foods they buy and eat, and expert opinions on more than a dozen individual topics, including gluten, vitamins, probiotics, “super foods,” genetically modified organisms, and organic food.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org, and on YouTube (part one) and YouTube (part two)

November Physician Focus: Managing Your Chronic Disease

Posted in Health, Physician Focus, Primary Care on October 31st, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on November Physician Focus: Managing Your Chronic Disease

Chronic diseases such as asthma, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes affect about half of all American adults, and their incidence is likely to increase as members of the baby boom generation reach the ages when chronic diseases become more prevalent.

Traditional care for these conditions has centered on the physician’s role, but a new model of care is emerging: that of patient self-management, where patients, in partnership with their physicians, become their own principal caregiver.

The November edition of Physician Focus examines this new model of care with representatives from the Healthy Living Center of Excellence. Robert Schreiber, M.D., (photo, right), Medical Director, and Jennifer Raymond, J.D., M.B.A., (center) Director of Evidence-Based Programs, join host B. Dale Magee, M.D., (left) a past president of MMS, in discussing the purpose, goals, and benefits of these self-management programs and how physicians and patients can participate.

The Healthy Living Center of Excellence is a collaborative effort of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley in Lawrence, Mass. and Hebrew Senior Life in Boston. Through regional-based efforts with community organizations, health care providers, health plans, government, and foundations, the Center offers free programs in community-based settings from seven regional centers throughout Massachusetts that help patients 18 years of age and older with chronic conditions manage their own care.

Results of these programs have shown that patients have better health outcomes, better care experiences, better communication with their providers, and are much more able to manage their conditions.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org, and on YouTube.

October Physician Focus: HPV

Posted in Physician Focus, Public Health on October 1st, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on October Physician Focus: HPV

Human Papillomavirus is the most common, sexually-transmitted infection, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that some 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, with about 14 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that most sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of the virus at some point in their lives.

While a vaccine for adolescents is available for this human carcinogen, to prevent the cervical and anal cancers, head-and-neck cancers, and genital warts that the infection can cause, too many adolescents are putting their health at risk by not getting vaccinated. In July, CDC reported that only 38 percent of girls and 14 percent of boys had completed the full regimen of three shots.

To raise awareness of human papillomavirus and encourage vaccination, the October edition of Physician Focus features Rebecca Perkins, M.D. (photo, right), a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist at Boston Medical Center who has completed research on HPV vaccination projects sponsored by the American College of Obstetrician-Gynecologists, the CDC, and the American Cancer Society. Hosting the program is Mavis Jaworski, M.D. (photo, left), a family medicine physician.

Among the topics of discussion by the physicians are the prevalence of HPV, the risks associated with the virus, the importance of vaccination, and the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org, and on YouTube .

September Physician Focus: Is Marijuana Medicine?

Posted in Medical Marijuana, Medicine, Physician Focus on August 28th, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on September Physician Focus: Is Marijuana Medicine?

Despite a ban by the Federal government, little clinical research into its effectiveness as a medicine, and lack of approval by the Food and Drug Administration, the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been approved by 23 states and the District of Columbia as of August.

In Massachusetts, voters in 2012 overwhelmingly approved a ballot question allowing the use of marijuana by patients with “debilitating medical conditions.” The vote represented a declaration of medicine by plebiscite, a major departure from the nation’s structured way of creating, testing, and approving medications through well-controlled, sanctioned clinical trials and review and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

As the regulatory process of overseeing the marijuana program proceeds and marijuana dispensaries prepare to open in the Commonwealth, the September episode of Physician Focus examines a basic question: Is marijuana medicine?

Guests for the show are two physicians who presented at the MMS’s recent CME course on medical marijuana in June: Alan Ehrlich, M.D. (photo, center), Senior Deputy Editor of DynaMed, a clinical reference tool created by physicians that examines medical articles for clinical relevance and scientific validity, and Kevin Hill, M.D., M.H.S., (right), Director of the Substance Abuse Consultation Service in the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse at McLean Hospital in Belmont. Hosting the program is John Fromson, M.D., (left) Chief of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston.

The three physicians examine the current evidence surrounding marijuana, the risks of using the drug, what conditions marijuana may help, and what patients should know about the drug if they are considering using it for medicinal purposes.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org,  and on YouTube.

August Physician Focus: Advance Care Planning

Posted in End of Life Care, Palliative Care, Physician Focus, Uncategorized on July 31st, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on August Physician Focus: Advance Care Planning

Physicians are increasingly recognizing the importance of advance care planning – preparation for the end-of-life –  and as the subject gains more public attention, more patients are being motivated to talk about the issues.

The August edition of Physician Focus shares the physician’s perspective on this topic with two members of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Committee on Geriatric Medicine.

Eric Reines, M.D., (photo, center) a geriatrician with Element Care in Lynn and chair of the committee, and Beth Warner, D.O., (right) a consultant geriatrician with Cooley Dickinson Health Care in Northampton and committee member, join host and primary care physician Bruce Karlin, M.D. (left) to discuss the basics of advance care planning.

Among the topics of conversation are the importance and advantages of planning, when it should begin, how to start the process, and the physician’s role in the process. Healthcare proxies, medical orders for life-sustaining treatment, and hospice and palliative care are also included in the discussion.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org,  and on YouTube.

Physician Focus for July: Boards of Health

Posted in Health, Physician Focus, Public Health on July 1st, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on Physician Focus for July: Boards of Health

In 1799, Paul Revere was appointed chairman of the Commonwealth’s first Board of Health in Boston and was given broad authority to control deadly epidemics and environmental contamination. More than 200 years later, today’s health boards, while charged with many more responsibilities, have much the same purpose: to provide for the public’s health and safety.  They have been given the obligation and authority by the state legislature to protect the public health and welfare, similar to powers given to local police and fire departments.

The July episode of Physician Focus examines how public health efforts are conducted at the community level with senior executives of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB).  The program discusses the responsibilities of the boards, their enforcement powers, how they’re managed and operated, the challenges they face in performing their duties, how they balance individual rights and behaviors while maintaining standards of health and safety for the entire community, and how they relate to other local and state agencies.

Guests are Christopher Quinn, M.D. (photo, center) and Ms. Cheryl Sbarra (right).  Dr. Quinn is Director of Occupational Health Services at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass., a physician with the Attleboro Health Department, and President of MAHB. Ms. Sbarra is the staff attorney for MAHB and provides legal consultation, policy guidance and technical assistance to boards of health and municipal governments throughout the Commonwealth.  Hosting this edition is B. Dale Magee, M.D. (left), MMS past president.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org and on YouTube. 

June Physician Focus: Infectious Diseases

Posted in Health, Physician Focus, Public Health, Uncategorized on May 30th, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on June Physician Focus: Infectious Diseases

Measles has hit a 20-year high in the U.S., and mumps and whooping cough are likewise reappearing with disturbing frequency.  Warm weather approaches, raising the threat of mosquito- and tick borne illnesses, and new, emerging diseases such MERS and dengue are now reaching the U.S.

A stubborn resistance to immunization, global travel, and the seasonal return of mosquitoes and ticks are contributing to an increased threat of infectious disease this year.

The June episode of Physician Focus highlights several common and emerging infectious diseases, discussing their origins, symptoms, effects on health, and the steps patients can take to safeguard themselves from infection.  The conversation also covers the critical role vaccines play in preventing infectious diseases and what people should do prior to international travel to minimize the risk of disease.

The guest for this program is infectious disease specialist George Abraham, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P. (seated, photo), who joins program host B. Dale Magee, M.D., past president of the MMS for the discussion.  Dr. Abraham is Associate Chief of Medicine at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Massachusetts Governor for the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Abraham earned a master’s degree in public health in infectious disease epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and has served as a World Health Organization fellow in HIV disease in Uganda and as an infectious disease fellow at the Communicable Disease Center in Singapore.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org, and on YouTube.

May Physician Focus: Oral Health

Posted in Health, Physician Focus, Public Health, Uncategorized on April 30th, 2014 by MMS Communications – Comments Off on May Physician Focus: Oral Health

Research has shown that oral health and physical health are linked,  and that problems with oral health are associated with such conditions as heart disease, diabetes, and pneumonia.

This connection between the health of the mouth and the rest of the body has led to a growing relationship between physicians and dentists to improve the overall health of their patients. The establishment of the Committee on Oral Health by the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Dental Society’s Connect the Dots program are two examples of collaborative efforts between the professions.

The May episode of Physician Focus, Oral Health, takes a closer look at this cooperative effort between physicians and dentists and how it can improve patient care.

Guests Hugh Silk, M.D. (photo, center), family physician and Chair of the MMS Committee on Oral Health, and Michael Wasserman, D.D.S. (right), President of the Massachusetts Dental Society, join host and primary care physician Bruce Karlin (left) to discuss the many aspects of oral health.

Among the topics of conversation are how oral health affects overall physical health, obstacles that prevent good oral health, populations most vulnerable to poor oral health, the importance of dental insurance, oral cancer, the benefits of fluoridation., and how the professions are working together to promote oral health.

Physician Focus is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, www.physicianfocus.org, and on YouTube.