Vermont Medical Society - Rounds Newsletter
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Everything Vermont's physicians need to know this week

Bill expanding Vermont Practitioner Health Program passes Senate
S. 14, the bill that expands the Vermont Practitioner Health Program, passed the Senate last week on voice vote.  The bill will allow the VMS-administered VPHP program to expand from serving Board of Medical Practice licensees with substance use disorder to serving licensees with any condition that impairs the ability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety.  The bill will now be sent to the House. 

Duty to Warn bill voted out of Senate Judiciary 
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 this morning on S.3, a bill that clarifies when mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, have a duty to disclose information concerning a client or patient.  The version of the bill approved by the Committee states that a mental health professional has a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect an identifiable victim or property if the mental health professional knows or should know that the patient poses an imminent risk of serious danger to an identifiable victim or property damage that could cause a lethal threat to a person in the vicinity.  This language largely places in state statute the same standard that has been in effect since a 1986 Vermont Supreme Court decision called Peck v Counseling Service of Addison County. S.3 was introduced and had been supported by VMS in response to a Vermont Supreme Court decision called Kuligoski v. Brattleboro Retreat that expended the duty to warn far beyond the Peck standard.  S.3 also includes a section on discharge plans and states that if a patient is released from an inpatient setting, the discharge plan must include necessary information, consistent with state and federal privacy law, to enable person or persons named in the discharge plan to carry out his or her discharge functions.  The latest language can be found here.  The bill heads to the Senate Floor later this week.

In The News is a concise digest of health care news in Vermont and the nation.  VMS is not responsible for the content of the articles.


VTDIGGER: Burlington, partners taking new steps to tackle opiate crisis

Officials unveiled several new partnerships and initiatives Thursday meant to help address the region’s opiate addiction crisis, which claimed a record number of lives last year.  Figures released recently by the Vermont Health Department show the number of fatal opiate overdoses in Vermont jumped from 76 in 2015 to 105 in 2016.  More » 

VTDIGGER: Human services chief promises review of mental health system
The secretary of the Agency of Human Services said his staff and other stakeholders will do a “deep dive” into systemic issues in how Vermont delivers mental health treatment.  Al Gobeille told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Feb. 9 that he and his staff would begin working with others this week to look at how to improve treatment.  More » 

VTDIGGER: Brattleboro Retreat adopts new approach to treatment
The Brattleboro Retreat’s Tyler 3 unit offers Vermont’s only inpatient mental health beds for adolescents.  In many ways, it’s considered “our most challenging unit,” said Retreat President and CEO Louis Josephson. And efforts to find funding for physical upgrades have thus far been unsuccessful.  Nevertheless, Retreat administrators say they’re making some big improvements on Tyler 3 - and elsewhere on the sprawling campus - by implementing two new programs that change how patients are treated for mental health and substance abuse problems.  More »   


NY TIMES: House G.O.P. leaders outline plan to replace Obama health care act
House Republican leaders on Thursday presented their rank-and-file members with the outlines of their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, leaning heavily on tax credits to finance individual insurance purchases and sharply reducing federal payments to the 31 states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility.  But the talking points they provided did not say how the legislation would be paid for, essentially laying out the benefits without the more controversial costs.  It also included no estimates of the number of people who would gain or lose insurance under the plan, nor did it include comparisons with the Affordable Care Act, which has extended coverage to some 20 million people.  More » 

WASHINGTON POST: Why America’s health-care spending is projected to soar over the next decade
U.S. health-care spending grew 4.8 percent last year, as the country has emerged from a period of historically low health spending growth, according to new federal estimates. However, that growth is projected to accelerate over the next decade as Americans age and medical prices rise.  The country spent $3.4 trillion on health care in 2016, a number that is projected to grow to $5.5 trillion by 2025.  More » 

FORBES: As Tom Price takes over HHS, studies back Accountable Care Organizations
Accountable care organizations are getting favorable reviews as a way to reduce costs and improve health quality for Medicaid and Medicare patients in two new studies out this week in JAMA Internal Medicine.  Researchers from Harvard Medical School showed ACOs in Medicare’s Shared Savings Program “were associated with a 9% reduction in post-acute spending by 2014,” for those that entered MSSP in 2012, the JAMA Internal Medicine report said.  More » 

NY TIMES: Lower back ache? Be active and wait it out, new guidelines say
Dr. James Weinstein, a back pain specialist and chief executive of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, has some advice for most people with lower back pain: Take two aspirin and don’t call me in the morning.  On Monday, the American College of Physicians published updated guidelines that say much the same. In making the new recommendations for the treatment of most people with lower back pain, the group is bucking what many doctors do and changing its previous guidelines, which called for medication as first-line therapy.  More » 

NY TIMES: When retirement comes with a daily dose of cannabis
From retirement communities to nursing homes, older Americans are increasingly turning to marijuana for relief from aches and pains. Many have embraced it as an alternative to powerful drugs like morphine, saying that marijuana is less addictive, with fewer side effects.  For some people, it is a last resort when nothing else helps.  More » 

2017 Council Meetings
- Saturday, April 8, 9-11 a.m., Best Western, Waterbury
- Wednesday, Sept. 13, 7-8:30 p.m., GoToMeeting or conference call
- Sunday, Nov. 5, 9-11:30 a.m., Woodstock Inn, Woodstock, VT

Pastore Financial Group webinar: Residents, Fellows, and New Physicians
March 8th, 12 noon to 1 p.m. or 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Info/registration here

Challenges to Professionalism in a Time of Change
Presented by the Maine Medical Association
June 17th, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Sheraton Hotel, Portsmouth, NH
Info here

2017 Annual Meeting
November 3-4, 2017
Woodstock Inn
Woodstock, Vt. 

Vermont Practitioner Health Program is available to help
Are you or one of your colleague’s struggling with substance abuse issues? The VMS-administered Vermont Practitioner Health Program (VPHP) can help.  Click here for more information, or if you’d like to have VPHP present at a local staff meeting.

CME: Breaking Through Physician Stress & Burnout to be offered April 20-22 in Maine 
Maine Medical Educational Trust and DocExecutive are offering a 3-day residential CME (47 Category 1 credits) in New Gloucester, Maine, called “Breaking Through Physician Stress & Burnout.”  The workshop is designed to provide a relaxing, stress-free environment through which the latest research for improving mental health and replacing emotionally imbalanced behaviors with healthy alternatives will be translated into personal action planning. More info at  

© Vermont Medical Society 2016
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Copyright © 2017 Vermont Medical Society, All rights reserved.

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