APHA ‘Get Ready Day’ Helps Americans Prep for Emergencies

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is creating awareness through their Get Ready Day campaign, which will be held on September 16, 2014. The campaign helps Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for all disasters and hazards, including the flu, infectious disease, natural disasters and other emergencies.

It’s certainly a good reminder to be aware of potentially dangerous situations and how they are safely handled. Here is a list of how to prepare for pretty much any emergency situation you can think of.

This is also probably the cutest video you’ll ever see about emergency situations…Get Ready Video

REPORT: Office Visits by Patients With Diabetes Rising Rapidly in United States

Office visits in the United States for diabetes rose 20% from 2005 to 2010, with the largest increase in adults in their mid-20s to mid-40s, according to a new data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Nearly 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, putting them at risk for other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, eye disease, and stroke, Jill J. Ashman, PhD, and colleagues from the NCHS note in the brief.

On an annual basis, the cost of diabetes in the United States approaches $245 billion, and patients with diabetes have medical expenditures 2.3 times those of patients without diabetes.

The researchers analyzed recent trends in office visits by patients with diabetes using the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), a nationally representative survey of visits to nonfederal office-based physicians (excluding anesthesiologists, radiologists, and pathologists).

They found that office-based physician visits by patients with diabetes rose from 94.4 million in 2005 to 113.3 million in 2010 (a 20% increase). Visits by patients with diabetes made up about 11% of all office-based physician visits in 2010.

The number of office visits increased during the study period for all age groups except for those younger than 25 years. The largest percentage increase (34%) occurred in people in the 25- to 44-year age range.

However, the volume of visits was higher for older adults; individuals aged 65 and older made 53.7 million visits in 2010 compared with 2.6 million visits made by those younger than 25.

The researchers did not see any marked change in the rate of office visits by patients with diabetes in any age group during the study period. The highest rate in 2010 was among those aged 65 and older (1380 visits per 1000 persons) and lowest in those younger than 25 (20 visits per 1000).

“Diabetes is not the only health concern for the majority of patients who have it, with 87% of visits being made by patients who have additional chronic conditions,” Dr. Ashman and colleagues say.

Regardless of age, they found that patients with diabetes use “extensive health resources,” making frequent trips to the doctor and often receiving multiple prescriptions.

One of the federal Healthy People 2020 goals is to reduce the disease and economic burden of diabetes. “Continuing to examine office-based physician visits by patients with diabetes is especially important given changes in standards of care that may influence such visits,” Dr. Ashman and colleagues say.

Source: Medscape

What is driving a physician shortage and how can it be stopped?

As its name insists, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is supposed to give more American access to reasonably-price healthcare, but this affordability would prove fruitless if the number of primary care physicians in the United States continues to decrease.

Recent findings from the likes of SERMO, the largest online community of physicians, show that amongst all provider specialties family and internal medicine are two of three unhappiest groups of physicians, 62 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Only obstetricians and gynecologists come in lower at 59 percent. For internists and family physicians, dissatisfaction with lifestyle was a common factor leading many to rethink their choice of specialty, 25 and 23 percent, respectively.

“These are the doctors on the front lines in medicine who are seeing the increase pressure and in particular now with the ACA in play and a higher stream of patients coming in,” SERMO CEO Peter Kirk tells EHRIntelligence.com. “It is still a challenging work environment and they are at the lower end of the pay scale. Those are the ones looking to change whereas those on the higher end of the pay scale — orthopedists, physiatrists, oncologists, etc. — are happiest with their professions.”

Although these physicians admit to dissatisfaction with their choice of specialty, it does not mean that they are leaving it for another. So then why is this problematic? The answer to that question is seen in the choices made by the next waves of physicians, residents, who are opting more lucrative and less stressful professional positions.

“Based on some of the conversations on the site, you can build a sense of how much there is a drive toward specialty right off,” Kirk explains. “Having your own private practice as a primary care physician is not the dream anymore. It doesn’t pay the bills. There’s too much complexity, too much involved in running a business. This is driving residents into searching for the best-paid specialties in order to help pay of their debt and have a nice head start moving forward.”

Here lies the basis on predictions that physician shortages are only a matter of time. The ACA and increase of insured Americans should only serve to exacerbate the stresses associated with primary care.

“There will not be enough real doctors at the front lines of primary care to handle the workload, especially with the ACA adding 30 million additional patients to the system,” maintains SERMO’s CEO. “More pressure and more of the primary care are being assigned to non-physicians. The NPs and PAs are likely to do more of the work. That’s going to play out over the next five to ten years.”

A solution to the problem?

The physician shortage problem is real, but what can be done about it? Both the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and American Medical Association (AMA) believe the solution to be found in graduate medical education.
Crediting medical schools for increasing enrollments and students for responding with an increasing number of applications, the AAMC is placing the onus on lawmakers:

Now Congress must do its part by lifting the cap on the number of federally supported residency training positions. Lawmakers have responded with proposals in the House and Senate to increase the number of residency positions. But they must act now in order to ensure that there are enough physicians for our growing and aging population.

Meanwhile, the AMA has developed a new policy to encourage state and federal legislators and private payers help fund residents in training with an emphasis on promoting the teaching of team-based and patient-centered care models by accrediting associations.

Through its Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative, the AMA has convened nearly a dozen medical schools to decrease disparities in medical education. “As more patients continue to receive health care coverage, it is essential that the next generation of physicians is sufficiently trained,” said AMA Board Member Stephen Permut, MD.

Health information technology (IT) has a role to play in easing the burdens on providers if developed, implemented, and used properly. But it is still only a support and no substitute for the skill and expertise of physicians using it.

Source:
Kyle Murphy, PhD
EHR Intelligence

APMA Advocates for Permanent Medicare Payment Reform

WASHINGTON—The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) today voiced its concern over the short-term solution known as the “doc fix” legislation passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives. APMA calls on Congress to discontinue use of these temporary fixes, and instead focus efforts on continuing bipartisan negotiations, working toward a permanent SGR replacement package that includes provisions of the APMA-sponsored HELLPP Act.

The one-year “doc fix” keeps Medicare payment levels at their current level and averts the 24-percent payment cut scheduled to take effect April 1. Instead, providers would see a 0.5-percent increase in payments through December 31, 2014. Payments would then revert to their current levels through April 15, 2015. The bill would also delay the ICD-10 transition until October 2015. While the delay does allow for additional time for preparation, it poses a significant financial and resource impact on entities that were heavily invested in the transition.

“APMA continues to work with members of Congress to replace the flawed sustainable growth rate formula as well as any burdensome requirements that adversely affect our members, including our collaborative goal of an orderly ICD-10 transition,” said APMA President Frank Spinosa, DPM. “APMA urges its members and all physician organizations to push for permanent Medicare payment reform.”

Contact APMA’s Legislative Advocacy department at advocacy@apma.org.

New Children’s Foot Health Campaign Kicks Off

April’s foot health awareness month provides APMA the opportunity to educate the general public about the importance of maintaining children’s foot health at all stages of development, and the role today’s podiatrist plays in promoting positive foot health.

This year’s campaign, titled “First Steps: Keeping Kids’ Feet Happy and Healthy”, will provide members with a host of new educational materials, including an online resource page, poster, customizable newsletter, kid-friendly worksheet, and shareable multimedia.

A dedicated media relations strategy targeting “mommy bloggers” will also take place throughout the month, positioning APMA members as experts in the realm of children’s foot health.

The “First Steps” campaign kicks off April 1, and resources will remain on APMA.org for a full year after the campaign’s completion for members’ use. For any questions, or to learn more about how you can get involved, contact the APMA Communications department.

Fashionable Footwear – Good for Style, Bad for Foot Health

More than half of Americans suffer from foot problems, and often those problems are directly related to shoes.

But no matter how cute a shoe looks, Orly Avitzur, medical adviser at Consumer Reports, said that having fashionable footwear isn’t worth the health risks.

“Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to lifelong deformities that require surgery to fix,” she said.

According to a new study from the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, uncomfortable and ill-fitting shoes are a serious problem. Shoes that force feet into narrow or pointy toes can cause bunions or hammertoes, where the toes curl unnaturally downward.

But that doesn’t stop women like Trisha Calvo and Jennifer Frost from wearing name brand heels.

“I feel fabulous in them,” Frost said. “You feel fabulous in your shoes…not physically
fabulous in them.”

Studies show that high heels can shorten your Achilles tendon and can trigger planter fasciitis, an inflammation in the soles of the feet. Avitzur recommends foregoing high heels for something more comfortable.

“Opt for a lower heel to take some of the pressure off the ball of your foot,” she said. “Make sure that there is enough room in the toe, and avoid thin-soled shoes that have little or no support.”

But even flat shoes can hurt feet if they lack proper support and cushioning, especially if they’re the wrong size.

One recent study revealed that up to a third of people wear the wrong shoe size, sometimes by up to one-and-a-half sizes. To combat that problem, Consumer Reports recommends measuring your feet each time you buy, especially for people over 40. After that, feet can grow up to half a shoe size every 10 years.

Source:
WRAL

7 Tips to Take Care of Your Feet This Winter!

Winter’s chill makes it easy to forget about taking care of your feet – but it’s still vitally important! Here are 7 great tips from our friends at Houston’s Diagnostic Foot Specialists that can help stay healthy through the coldest months of the year:

Keep Them Clean

To avoid getting an ingrown toenail, fungus or other unpleasant things on your feet, make sure that you take the time to wash them thoroughly every day. Regular soap and water should work fine, or your foot doctor can give you a few tips about what to use. After washing your feet, take the time to dry them thoroughly before putting on your socks or shoes.

It is also a good idea to soak your feet every now and then, particularly if you are suffering from heel pain or general discomfort. Epsom salt and warm water works well for soaking your feet and can even help ward off infections. Make sure that you do not use extremely hot water, however; this is especially important if your feet are very cold. To help avoid injury, use slightly warm water instead.

When washing your feet, you can take the time to carefully inspect them for ingrown toenails, foot fungus and other issues. If you find any of these problems, consider seeking the assistance of a podiatrist instead of trying to tackle them on your own. At-home remedies often do not work and can even be painful, but a physician can help.

Wear the Right Socks

Before putting on your winter shoes, take a minute to slip on the right pair of socks. Thick, warm socks can help prevent your feet from getting too cold and can keep them dry on snowy and icy days.

Moisturize Regularly

Skin can get very dry during the harsh winter months. Although you might think about using lotion on your arms and hands, however, you might forget about your feet. To help prevent cracking and discomfort, use a rich lotion or foot cream on your clean, dry feet on a daily basis.

Wear the Right Shoes

Wearing the right shoes is very important to prevent injury and to stay as comfortable as possible during the day. Look for shoes that are designed for what you will be using them for; if you will be running, for example, you should look for running shoes. Also, make sure that your shoes offer plenty of arch support; otherwise, you could injure yourself.

Give Them a Rest

Standing all day can be painful and even detrimental to the health of your feet. When possible, sit down and prop up your feet or soak them in a foot bath; giving yourself this rest will help prevent injuries. If you wear high-heeled shoes or other uncomfortable footwear, consider wearing comfortable flats at least a couple of days out of the week; your feet will thank you.

Exercise Your Feet

Before venturing out into the cold, give your feet a bit of exercise; doing so can help you avoid joint pain and other issues. Doing calf exercises, moving your feet in a circular motion and doing leg lifts can help. You do not have to dedicate hours to your exercise routine, but try to get your blood flowing before heading out into the winter weather.

Understand the Importance of Proper Foot Care

Taking care of your feet is important; this is especially true if you are diabetic or suffer from other health-related issues that could affect your feet or legs. Along with following these tips during the winter, make sure that you take good care of your feet all year long. Also, make sure to see a podiatrist if you notice anything wrong with your feet or are in pain.

8 Great Suggestions for Diabetic Foot Care

1.) Maintain a blood sugar level of 70 to 130 mg/dL before your meals and less than 180 mg/dL two hours after you’ve started your meal, with a haemoglobin A1C level that is less than 7 percent. This can be achieved through regular exercise, monitoring how often and what you are eating, keeping up with medications prescribed by your doctor, and monitoring your blood sugar as often as is necessary for optimal control.

2.) Never walk barefooted. Seashells, glass, or other ocean debris can cut your skin and cause serious infections without you realizing it. Walking barefoot on a hot pavement or hot sand can also lead to severe burns or infections. Avoid wearing sandals, as sand and other foreign bodies can still get into the sandal. Podiatrist, Cyaandi Dove, advises all her diabetic patients to choose closed shoes over flip-flops and sandals to give their feet maximum protect. She says: “Insects can still have access to your feet and cause problems with bites and other infections. Rather than saying that you should never wear sandals, I would say that you should be very vigilant when you do wear them.”

3.) Be shoe wise. Wearing shoes that are too big or too small can cause blisters or calluses. Measure your feet each time you buy new shoes. It’s is normal for adult feet to change sizes four or five times during your lifetime. Weight fluctuations, changes in the weather, and poor circulation can all alter the shape and size of your foot.

4.) Be sock wise. Choose socks that have no seams. Seams will rub against your skin and cause blisters.

5.) Wash and inspect your feet and shoes daily. Give your feet a daily wash. Inspect your feet before putting on your shoes and once more when you take them off. If you are not flexible enough to see the base of your foot, use a magnifying hand mirror. Shake out your shoes before you put them on and make sure there is no debris that will rub against your feet. Although a tiny grain of sand might not be felt, it could lead to serious infection if it is not treated properly.

6.) Trim toenails. Don’t let your nails get long and overgrown. Trim them straight across, and, if necessary, file down the edges.

7.) Use skin lotion for your feet. As a preventative, Flexitol Heel Balm can reduce the risk of infections and foot ulceration in diabetic patients keeping the skin optimally hydrated. Rub a thin coat of Flexitol Heel Balm on the top and bottom of your feet, but not between the toes. Excess moisture can also lead to fungal infections, so let the balm soak into your skin for a few minutes before putting on socks on covering up your feet.

8.) Visit a podiatrist before and after your vacation. Fungal infections tend to happen a lot more when the weather is heated and increased in moisture. Your feet might also increase in calluses because you have switched to summer footwear. Do not try to remove corns, calluses, or warts on your own. Even over-the-counter products for removing corns and warts may cause burns or damage to your skin that cannot be repaired. Your podiatrist will help you manage minor infections and ensure that they do not lead to serious complications.

Sources: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1282575#ixzz2sMMwFuEF, http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Documents/Reports/State-of-the-Nation-2012.pdf

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