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Simple online methods increase physician disease reporting
Date:1/14/2008

With emerging diseases like the West Nile Virus, and re-emerging diseases such as the pandemic flu and drug-resistant tuberculosis, its increasingly important to promptly detect a potential infectious outbreak within a community. But public health officials cant act quickly unless physicians report the diseases.

Quick reporting by several physicians, all acting independently, allows the public health authorities to promptly recognize a pattern and take the necessary action to contain the disease by isolating and treating cases, quarantining affected groups and taking other measures to hopefully prevent a wider outbreak, said Temple University physician Dr. Lawrence Ward, MD, MPH, FACP.

Ward led a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice that found simple and cost efficient methods such as e-mail reminders, an informational web site, and a program for handheld devices significantly increased spontaneous reporting by physicians.

Currently, few physicians report diseases to public health authorities. They either dont know the methods for reporting, or the specific conditions that are required by law to be reported. Public health officials also do not adequately communicate the vitally important role played by practicing physicians, as frontline agents of public health, in the identification of new disease patterns and the importance of prompt reporting, Ward said.

The study involved clinicians associated with all hospitals in Philadelphia County, Pa. The study comprised a 24-week baseline period (Jan. 18, 2004July 3, 2004) and a 24-week intervention period (Jan. 16, 2005July 2, 2005). Researchers selected five hospitals for the intervention group, while the control group consisted of the 23 other hospitals located within Philadelphia County.

The intervention group received e-mails directing readers to a web site* that listed all reportable conditions with inst
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Contact: Eryn Jelesiewicz
dobeck@temple.edu
215-707-0730
Temple University
Source:Eurekalert  

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