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Lawsuits Plague Ob.Gyns.

Nearly 70% of obstetricians and gynecologists have been sued during their careers, according to a survey by the American Medical Association. Ob.gyns. share the top of the most-sued-specialties list with general surgeons. About half of ob.gyns and general surgeons have been sued at least twice in their careers. Within the past 12 months, 9.5% of ob.gyns. have faced lawsuits. The AMA compiled the report from data in its 2007-2008 Physician Practice Information survey. “The findings in this report validate the need for national and state medical liability reform to rein in our out-of-control system where lawsuits are a matter of when, not if, for physicians,” Dr. J. James Rohack, AMA immediate past president, said in a statement.

Med Students Want More Sex Ed

More than half of medical students completing an Internet survey said they had not received enough training on sexual issues to address their patients' sexual concerns clinically, a study in the journal Academic Medicine found. Despite this, four of five of the students said they felt comfortable dealing with their patients' sexuality issues. Students reporting limited sexual experience, being at risk for sexual problems, and feeling that they had not been trained adequately admitted more unease talking about sexual issues than other medical students did. The survey of U.S. and Canadian medical students included 1,343 women and 910 men.

Breast Information Mandated

Breast cancer patients in New York will soon be getting more information about their reconstruction options, thanks to a new law. Starting Jan. 1, 2011, hospitals throughout the state will be required to inform the women about the availability and insurance coverage of reconstructive surgery before they undergo a mastectomy, lymph node dissection, or lumpectomy. Since 1998, federal law has guaranteed universal coverage for reconstruction, but many women aren't aware of it or don't know where to get the procedure, according to Dr. Evan Garfein, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York who pushed for the state's new law. Women who are poor, less educated, and in minority groups are disproportionately affected, he said in a statement. “Breast reconstruction has been repeatedly shown to improve the quality of life and overall well-being of women,” Dr. Garfein said.

Panel to Shape Cancer Research

Late this month, a federal advisory panel will begin work on a research agenda to clarify environmental and genetic factors in breast cancer. The new Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee will hold its first meeting on Sept. 30 and will begin to review all breast cancer research that is conducted or supported by federal agencies. The committee is to recommend ways to improve and expand research opportunities. The 19-member panel includes representatives of federal agencies, physicians, other health professionals, scientists, and patient advocates. “The broad range of expertise and insight of these individuals will ensure the federal research portfolio continues to advance our understanding of the critical links between our environment, our genes, and our health,” Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, said in a statement.

$42 Million for HIV Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded $42 million to 133 community-based organizations to fight HIV among at-risk populations, which include blacks, Hispanics, gay and bisexual men, and illicit-drug injectors. The organizations will receive an average $323,000 per year for 5 years to implement HIV-prevention programs, increase HIV testing, and promote knowledge of HIV status among individuals. The organizations will use small amounts of each grant to measure their effectiveness. According to the CDC, a local organization has community knowledge and perspective that enable it to reach people who might not otherwise get tested for HIV or access preventive services.

Part D Premiums Edge Up

Medicare beneficiaries can expect their monthly Part D prescription drug premiums to rise next year, but only by about $1, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Officials at the agency estimated that the average monthly premium for standard Part D drug coverage will be $30, about $1 more than in 2010. By shopping around, beneficiaries may be able to find plans with lower premiums than they are paying now, CMS Administrator Donald Berwick said during a press conference to announce the new rates. He and other officials said premium rates will remain relatively steady in 2011 because minor cost increases for the Part D plans have been offset by increased use of generic drugs. Also starting in 2011, Medicare beneficiaries will be eligible for 50% discounts of if they spend enough on brand name prescriptions to reach the Part D coverage gap, or “doughnut hole.”

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