American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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From the July/August 1997 ACP Observer, copyright 1997 by the American College of Physicians.

College's PR campaign offers members patient brochures, customized badges

ACP is offering internists patient brochures and personalized badges to help reinforce the message of its public education campaign, which uses national magazine ads and is test marketing cable television ads to raise public awareness about internal medicine.

The brochures are the next stage in the three-year, $5 million advertising and public relations campaign, which was launched this spring. They describe internists as experts in adult medicine and tell patients not to confuse internists with interns, family physicians or general practitioners. Single copies of the brochure are available free of charge; packets of 100 cost $19.95.

In addition to the brochures, members can also purchase badges to wear in the office that bear the new "Internal Medicine: Doctors for Adults" logo. Doctors can opt to indicate their name and/or subspecialty on this badge. Information: ACP's customer service, 800-523-1546, ext. 2600.

Ads that explain the benefits of internists ran in the June issues of six national magazines: People, Time, Newsweek, Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal and McCall's. The ads will be running again in these and other magazines in September. Television commercials aired in June and will run again in the fall on cable stations in three test markets: Denver, Memphis and Pittsburgh.

The College also sent short video news releases last month to television news stations. They tell viewers that aches and pains that mean nothing to people in their 20s may mean health problems if experienced by people in their 40s and 50s. The video, which features ACP Regent Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, FACP, explains that internists can help these individuals "age healthfully." Several consumer magazines have interviewed Dr. Fryhofer, who also has appeared on various radio, TV news and talk programs.

ACP panel to explore issues surrounding end-of-life care

ACP this month is convening a new consensus panel of physician experts who will issue recommendations and guidance on a range of issues related to end-of-life care. The panel will be chaired by renowned medical ethicist and internist Bernard Lo, FACP, of the University of California, San Francisco.

Over the next year, the panel will develop clinical and policy recommendations to disseminate the best knowledge on the care of dying patients, guide quality improvement projects, explain treatment options and enhance communications with patients and their families. The ACP panel is part of a larger collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics on a project on death and dying called "Finding Common Ground."

The ACP panel comes on the heels of a set of recommendations issued last month by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Medicine (IOM). Saying that consistently good care for patients at the end of life is an urgent and attainable goal, the IOM's recommendations dealt with education, research, better ways of paying for care and fixing flawed prescription drug laws—all of which could improve care for the dying.

Chaired by ACP Immediate Past President Christine K. Cassel, MACP, chair of the department of geriatrics and adult development at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, the 12-member IOM committee urged changes in undergraduate, graduate and continuing physician education to address problems in recognizing and treating pain and other symptoms of dying patients.

Among its recommendations, the IOM report discusses ways of fixing "scientifically flawed drug prescription laws, burdensome regulations and state medical board policies and practices," all of which impede effective use of opioids to control patients' pain.

The report also endorsed some changes in how the medical profession pays for end-of-life care such as adjusting capitated payments so health plans are not penalized for enrolling sicker patients.

For more information about ACP's panel on end-of-life care or the "Finding Common Ground" project, or to suggest issues that should be considered by either project, call Lois Snyder, JD, ACP's Counsel for Ethics and Legal Affairs, at 800-523-1546, ext. 2835. The full IOM report, "Approaching Death: Improving Care at the End of Life," costs $45 and is available from the National Academy Press. Information: 800-624-6242.

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