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Governor's Newsletter, Spring 2002

Rolf R. Paulson, MD, FACP
Governor, North Dakota Chapter

Governor's Message

Dear Colleagues,
I have tried to write these Governors' letters twice a year after our Annual Chapter meeting and after the Annual National meeting. ACP Governor's sessions occur at these times as well. I find several bad news/good news scenarios to share regarding our IM practices. One is the recent Institute of Medicine report-"To Err Is Human" which charges that 40,000 to 90,000 people die from hospital errors each year. The good news is the College has taken on a "Patient Safety"project, which helps us, address this problem. Jon Allen, MD from Grand Forks and UND will attend an ACP sponsored session on this topic this summer and will present at our Chapter meeting in Minot on September 20. I guarantee this will be worth our while. A computer based learning project regarding patient safety is being developed parallel to this.

The College is also working on issues of Patient-Physician communication. The Bayer (formerly Miles) program has been held up as one model to improve this. We are a little ahead of the curve on this. I've arranged a session this winter (date to be announced) for a workshop on Patient-Physician Communication. The ACP Chapter has arranged this but this will also fit in with our roles as clinical faculty at the UND School of Medicine. We'll also have a dinner and access to the Bayer suite at the Ralph Engelstad Arena for a Sioux Hockey game. This should be worthwhile and fun as well. The limit will be about thirty people.

Regarding recertification, the bad news is that it is a fact of life. If you certified in either Internal Medicine or a specialty after 1990 and have not recertified you are no longer "Board Certified.." I'm not sure of all the implications this will have but in states as nearby as Minnesota, reimbursement is being tied to this. I'm sure, more and more, credentialling of hospitals and programs will be linked to physician certification as well. The good news is that ACP has been working very hard with ABIM to change their increasingly complex process and in fact change is on the way.

Another item that is all good news is our Chapter Meeting this fall in Minot planned by Dr. Steve Mattson. You will get a chance to meet the new UND Chief of Internal Medicine Dr. Ray Smego. His job description explicitly includes the entire state and most of us are clinical faculty. You need to meet him and he needs to meet you! His predecessor Dr. Jim Hanley will be awarded the Laureate Award by our Chapter. (Jim shows how outstanding he is by the fact that this will make him one of few "Double Laureate Awardees" as he got one earlier from the Army Chapter as well.)

We'll also hear from Clarence Pearson, MD from Minot. He is an outstanding speaker in Cardiology. Residents and students will present cases as they have done in the past. As a special treat Steve is bringing Dr. Ron Logie here to talk about medical aspects of the Lewis and Clark expedition. This is especially timely with the bicentennial of the expedition coming up and the prominent role North Dakota played in that adventure. I've heard Ron speak and he is super. (Dr. Logie is also part of the ABIM so you might want to informally question him about developments there.) Our ACP College Representative is Dr Joel Levine, a Regent of the College and the recent Governor from Colorado. He is a dynamic person. He will give both a scientific talk on Gastroenterology and the College Report.

We had three individuals promoted to FACP this year, Jim Hargreaves of Grand Forks, Jaweed Akhter of Bismark, and Nestor Locsin of Linton. Dr. Locsin participated in the Convocation and our Governor Elect Dr. Abel Tello joined us. Once again, more of you need to consider moving on to FACP. This title is a statement about your commitment and ability as an Internist.

Our Chapter helped sponsor two UND IM residents, Azhwer Malik and Sandeep Laroia, and one Medical Student, Stephanie Hansel, to the National meeting in Philadelphia for Poster Competition. We continue to see great enthusiasm regarding the IM interest club at UND. The students have assumed "ownership" of this and I hope this is sustainable. We average about fifty students per time out of the first two years, which is about 50% of all students.

We plan to continue the summer externship. We pay a student $1000 and they get an opportunity to spend a month with an IM practitioner. We limit this to five students due to our limited budget and will probably have to evaluate what we are accomplishing along the years. Both students and preceptors seem to have enjoyed it and felt it to be worthwhile.

There are areas where we can grow as a Chapter. One is more involvement with/of the IM residents. We're working on this. Another is political involvement. As Governor (and with approval of our council) I have signed us on to statements of larger groups of organizations re the Tobacco settlement etc. At various times I have written our congressional delegation on the Chapters behalf. There is a lot more we could do in this area. Community involvement is something else we might explore.

New E-Newsletter for Members

A new monthly electronic newsletter for College members will debut on May 1, 2002. The newsletter will cover new College programs, products and services, and will also keep members updated on ACP's advocacy efforts on behalf of internists. The nearly 50,000 members who have provided the College with their e-mail addresses will receive the newsletter the first Wednesday of each month; recipients will have the opportunity to opt-out of receiving the publication at any time.

The newsletter will provide brief articles (two to three paragraphs) about College activities and services that directly affect members. Readers who wish to learn more about a particular topic will be referred to more information on the Web (when available). Members who do not have e-mail may also access the newsletter on ACP Online. For more information please contact Allison Ewing at (800-523-1546, ext. 2649).

ACP Email Campaign

ACP wants your email address. In an effort to ensure that you receive urgent health communications from the College, go to ACP Online and submit your current email address. ACP will not sell or share your e-mail address and will ensure the judicious use of your e-mail address.

Bioterrorism Resource Web Site Updated

The College's bioterrorism Web site has been revised for easier navigation, and features new clinical information, images, and support tools. The site has received praise from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other viewers for its comprehensiveness and content.

Recent additions include new support tools on cutaneous and inhalation anthrax, self-assessment questions on biological and chemical agents, and new information about biotoxins, nerve agents, and toxic gasses. Physicians are urged to visit the site to increase their knowledge of bioterrorism agents and to learn how to deal with a suspected bioterroristic attack.

College Mounts Public Affairs Effort on Excessive Medicare Cuts

The College's Public Affairs office has mounted a campaign to educate the public about the recent cuts in Medicare and what they will mean to the future quality of care in the United States. In mid-March ACP released a video news release featuring College President William Hall, MD, FACP, which dramatized the impact of excessive Medicare cuts on patient care. The release, titled "Medicare Cuts May Mean Trouble Ahead for Patients and the Physicians Who Treat Them," noted that Medicare patients may soon be faced with a serious reduction in available physicians and services if Congress doesn't act soon. A nearly 30 percent decrease in physician reimbursement over four years is forcing physicians to cut practice expenses and reconsider their participation in the Medicare program. In Dr. Hall's geriatric practice in New York state a five percent cut in funding has already led to the reduction of two staff positions. The College is working with Congress to avoid additional cuts that will force further reductions in services for Medicare patients between now and 2005.

In addition to the video news release, Public Affairs is working with members around the country to write and place op-ed letters in local newspapers. Op-ed pieces are an excellent tool to reach a broad audience with a targeted message. Physicians who are interested in lending their name and support to an op-ed piece may contact Jack Pope in the Public Affairs office at (800-338-2746).

PIER is Here…the Physicians' Information and Education Resource

PIER, The Physicians' Information and Education Resource, is now available for exclusive preview by ACP members

What Pier Is - Integrated with the College's other medical information and education resources, PIER is ACP's new, electronic, Web-based, decision support tool designed for rapid point-of-care delivery of up-to-date, evidence-based guidance for physicians. PIER contains modules focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and will eventually include sections on prevention and screening, procedures, ethical and legal issues, complementary and alternative medicine, and patient education. ACP members can visit the PIER web site at (http://pier.acponline.org) .

Why PIER is the Best Choice - All information in PIER has gone through a rigorous review process, so you can be sure that the information found in PIER is credible, up to date, and accurate.

How PIER Can Help You-

  • Get answers to clinical questions fast.
  • Rapidly review diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
  • Find focused drug information.
  • Provide clear information to patients in print or electronic format.
  • Be up to date on the newest data.
  • Have ready access to the evidence and related literature.

What to Expect From PIER in the Future-

  • Ongoing coverage of the newest data
  • Integrated links to electronic medical records
  • Customizable patient information
  • Clinical question archiving

Visit (http://pier.acponline.org)today and see how PIER can work for you!

Contact Information

Julie A Blehm, MD FACP
ACP Governor
North Dakota Chapter

Pam Heisler
North Dakota Chapter Staff
Phone: 701-780-6129
Email: pheisler@altru.org