News & Announcements

Standardization of Patient Race, Ethnicity and Language Data (posted 9/9)

Posted: September 09, 2009

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released a report suggesting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develop national standards for collecting data on patient race, ethnicity and primary language to better understand and address care quality disparities.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) formed the Subcommittee on Standardized Col­lection of Race/Ethnicity Data for Healthcare Quality Improvement to examine ap­proaches to standardization because a lack of standard­ization of race, ethnicity, and language categories acts as an obstacle to achieving more widespread collection and utilization of these data to eliminate disparities.  In its 2009 report, Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data: Standardization for Health Care Quality Improvement, the subcommittee recommends collection of more granular ethnicity and language need according to national standards in addition to OMB race and Hispanic ethnicity categories.  The report states that the presence of data on race, ethnicity, and lan­guage does not, in and of itself, guarantee subsequent actions in terms of analysis of quality-of-care data to identify health care needs or actions to reduce or eliminate disparities that are found.  The absence of data, however, essentially guarantees that none of those actions will occur.  To download the report from the IOM website click here.

Elderly Immigrants Experience Isolation (posted 9/9)

Posted: September 09, 2009

The New York Times reports that the ethnic elderly are among the most isolated people in America.  In fact the news article states that, "Some studies suggest depression and psychological problems are widespread, the result of language barriers, a lack of social connections and values that sometimes conflict with the dominant American culture, including those of their assimilated children."  The article contains many important statistics realted to the prevalence of eldery immigrants and their unique situation in contrast to the rest of the elderly population.  To read the article click here.

Joint Commission Seeks Comments on SBIRT Proposals (posted 9/9)

Posted: September 09, 2009

The Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is requesting public comment on proposed new hospital performance measures requiring screening, brief intervention, referral or treatment (SBIRT) for patients who show excessive alcohol use, use of illicit drugs, misuse of prescription drugs, or tobacco use.

If adopted, the SBIRT measures will address some of the nation’s greatest unmet healthcare needs in hospitals throughout the U.S. At present one in four U.S. hospital admissions is related to alcohol, tobacco or other drug use, and more than two million deaths in the United States each year, approximately one in four, is attributable to the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. Screening admitted patients for tobacco, alcohol and substance use, and initiating treatment in the hospital for these conditions makes good clinical sense.

Specifically, the proposed Joint Commission measures would require that:

1. All admitted patients are screened for excessive alcohol use, use of illicit drugs, misuse of prescription drugs, or tobacco use.

2. All patients with a positive screen receive a brief intervention.

3. All patients with a positive screen who are found to have alcohol or drug dependence or tobacco dependence will have treatment initiated in the hospital or be referred to treatment at discharge.

4. All patients be contacted within two weeks post hospital discharge and offered additional help as needed.

The Joint Commission accredits nearly 16,000 health care organizations in the U.S., covering approximately 95% of all hospital beds in the country. Because substance use problems cause or complicate over 50 different medical conditions involving every organ system, the importance of enactment of these new measures cannot be overstated.

For more information click here.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Substance Abuse Treatment (posted 9/9)

Posted: September 09, 2009

The Substance Abuse Policy Research Program recently released a policy brief on the 2002 Institute of Medicine publication Unequal Treatment (Smedley et al, 2002) that found that minorities in the United States generally receive inferior health care and have worse health outcomes than Caucasians.  The policy brief entitled Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Substance Abuse Treatment reviews the efforts that have been made since the release of Unequal Treatment to understand and address racial and ethnic disparities and respond to Congress' goal of reducing these inequities by 2010.  The policy brief states that the efforts that have been made to date are unlikely to succeed if improvements in substance abuse prevention and treatment are not achieved. For all Americans, not just racial and ethnic minorities, substance abuse is one of the most damaging, difficult and expensive health problem facing the country today.  Click here for more information.  To read the policy brief click here.

CDC Releases Procedural Guidance on HIV/AIDS Prevention & Care (posted 9/2)

Posted: September 02, 2009

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a guide for community-based-organizations (CBOs) to increase the number of persons living with HIV who know that they are infected and to give them and persons at high risk for HIV infection the best tools available for staying healthy and reducing the chance of giving HIV to others.  These guidelines were developed within the framework of CDC's 2003 initiative, Advancing HIV Prevention: New Strategies for a Changing Epidemic (AHP).  This Procedural Guidance document gives information to help CBOs come up with a plan for delivering interventions.  It will help organizations design prevention programs and recruitment strategies to promote counseling and testing, health education and risk reduction, and other prevention services; counseling, testing, and referral strategies; and interventions to help prevent the spread of HIV to meet the needs of persons living with HIV, their partners, and other persons who are not HIV infected but are at very high risk for HIV.  Click here to download the document from the CDC website.

The Procedural Guidance document does not give all of the information organizations will need to design, deliver, and monitor the interventions suggested in the guidelines.  CDC will help organizations with more training and technical assistance.  Information about the interventions is available at Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions (DEBI) .

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