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Policy & practice.

PAP SMEAR SUIT DISMISSED A class-action lawsuit that alleged that tens of thousands of women had been harmed by the improper processing of Pap smear results at a Pittsburgh hospital was dismissed last month. A judge in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas ruled that the women did not suffer physical harm and therefore did not have standing to bring the case. The suit, which was filed against Magee-Women's Hospital, charged that the hospital knowingly misrepresented the results of Pap smear tests by including physician names on the reports when the results had not been reviewed by a physician. However, the results were reviewed by cytotechnologists who referred abnormal results to a pathologist. The judge found this practice to be in compliance with current federal regulations.

DEFENDING SCIENCE The Bush administration last month defended its science policy against critics. John Marburger, Ph.D., director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, issued a statement in response to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) that attacked the administration for its "misuse of science." He disputed claims from UCS that the administration has distorted scientific knowledge in reproductive health issues such as abstinence-only education, condom use, and the disputed link between abortion and breast cancer. "I can attest from my personal experience and direct knowledge that this administration is implementing the president's policy of strongly supporting science and applying the highest standards in decision-making," Dr. Marburger said.

WOMEN HAVE HEART There is a critical need to increase awareness and education about heart disease and its risk factors in women, according to a resolution unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 522). The "Women Have Heart" resolution, which was introduced by Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), also commended First Lady Laura Bush and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for their awareness campaign on heart disease. "As a family physician, I saw too many female patients with heart disease that could have been prevented," said Rep. Snyder.

INCONTINENCE SURVEY More than half of women in a recent survey said they have experienced symptoms of stress urinary incontinence (SUI), but only 3% have been diagnosed by a healthcare professional. The survey, commissioned by the American Foundation for Urologic Disease (AFUD) and conducted by Harris Interactive, questioned more than 2,000 women aged 18 years and over. SUI affects about 30 million over the age of 18 in the United States, according to the group. "It's not surprising that so many women are displaying symptoms of SUI, yet are never diagnosed," said AFUD President Richard D. Williams. "By generating greater awareness and encouraging dialogue between patients and doctors, we can dispel these myths and break down the stigma associated with SUI."

BOARD RANKINGS IN 2003 State medical boards don't appear to be stepping up their disciplinary actions against physicians, although some continue to rank in the worst-performing category. Public Citizen concluded in its 2003 ranking of the boards. In calculating each state board's disciplinary rate, Public Citizen found that the national rate was 3.55 actions per 1,000 physicians in 2003, relatively unchanged from the 3,56 actions taken per 1,000 physicians in 2002. Nationally, state boards took 2,992 serious actions against physicians, such as license revocations, surrenders, suspensions, and probation/restrictions. Physicians are typically disciplined for negligence, incompetency, sexual misconduct, or breaking criminal laws. Analyses show that 5 of these state boards have consistently ranked among the bottom 15 for many years. They include Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee, Delaware, and Hawaii. In 2003, Rhode Island ranked as the worst-performing board and Kentucky scored the highest rate as the best-performing board.
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Title Annotation:Practice Trends
Author:Schneider, Mary Ellen
Publication:OB GYN News
Date:May 15, 2004
Words:609
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