Massachusetts Medical Society: Women's Leadership Forum; Medical Aid-in-Dying Survey

Women's Leadership Forum; Medical Aid-in-Dying Survey



Please take the MMS survey on medical aid-in-dying

Next month, MMS members will receive an important survey on their opinions regarding medical aid-in-dying, also referred to as physician-assisted suicide. Watch your email, or contact if you prefer a paper copy. Should you choose to complete this 15–20 minute survey, you will receive free access to one MMS end-of-life-focused online continuing medical education program, which can be applied toward the two CME credits in end-of-life care required of Massachusetts physicians in each licensing cycle. These credits may also be used toward meeting risk management survey requirements. Thank you in advance for your participation.

Save the date: 2017 Women's Leadership Forum

The Women’s Leadership Forum on Friday, September 15, 2017, will focus on building communication skills for professional and personal advancement. The event—Confident Communication Toward Socially Intelligent Leadership —features interactive sessions, experiential work, discussion of workplace applications, panels, and networking opportunities. Participants will learn skills for effective, compassionate, assertive leadership. The forum is hosted by MMS and its Committee on Women in Medicine (CWIM). “On behalf of the CWIM, I strongly encourage you to honor us with your presence,” said Helen Cajigas, MD, FCAP, Chair of the Committee on Women in Medicine. This program welcomes individuals from all genders and backgrounds, and includes an awards luncheon with a keynote address. It will take place at MMS Headquarters in Waltham. For more information, contact Erin Tally at or (781) 434-7413.

Zika Virus Clinical Guidance 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has updated its guidance around testing of pregnant women potentially exposed to Zika in response to new information published by CDC. The MDPH recommendations are in-line with CDC guidance and continue to recommend appropriately timed testing for symptomatic pregnant patients. Testing of asymptomatic pregnant patients should be considered and can be requested through commercial laboratories where Zika virus testing is now widely available. There is a continued strong recommendation around complete evaluation of infants born to mothers with potential Zika virus exposure during pregnancy, regardless of the mother’s laboratory testing status. Zika virus laboratory test interpretation remains complex as are questions around timing of conception following potential exposure and recommended duration of condom use to prevent sexual transmission. MDPH epidemiology staff are available 24/7 at 617-983-6800 to assist with interpretation and decision-making as needed. For more, visit the DPH Zika-specific page.

Interested in global health? Join the Global Medicine Network

The Global Medicine Network was created by the Committee on Global Health to establish personal and professional contacts among individuals and organizations working in international health and global medicine. Login in with your email address and update your contact info, skills, interests, education, research, etc.  Not a member? Create a profile today! Be sure to check out the new mapping platform added to the site, which maps our membership’s global health activity in real time. Sign up and add a quick comment on the progress of your global health activities.

Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum series available

The Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum, available now in 16 modules, is intended to equip doctors and other health care providers with a robust training on the medical, legal and social issues around marijuana use. Together with Dr Stephen B. Corn and Dr Meredith Fisher-Corn of the medical education website “We were talking (to our 10-year-old son) about medical cannabis and despite the fact that we’re both Harvard-trained physicians, we knew nothing about medical cannabis or the endocannabinoid system,” Dr. Fisher-Corn said in an interview with Boston Metro. “The information that one would find on the internet either said that marijuana was the best thing or marijuana was the worst thing.There was no unbiased credible information out there.” The program neither endorses nor seeks to impede the use of cannabinoid medications as a treatment option. The Curriculum has been subject to multiple layers of expert review, and provides the data needed to facilitate informed, balanced, transparent conversations between providers and patients, based upon the research currently available. For reviews by practicing physicians, see the October issue of Vital Signs.

Benefits Buzz: Legal advisory plan for medical groups

Professional liability policies may not cover complaints that arise before the Board of Registration in Medicine (BORIM). Even if those are covered by your policy, the relevant benefits may be limited. Avoid financial caps during an investigation by utilizing the Legal Advisory Plan (LAP), which fills the insurance gap. The LAP is a members-only, affordable legal service plan, designed to offer expert advice from plan attorneys on BORIM matters. Don’t miss out. Enroll or renew for $70 a year* — a fraction of standard legal fees. *Additional discount for groups of five or more. Click here to learn more. Questions? Email, or call (781) 434-7311.

ATSDR offers case studies in environmental medicine

ATSDR Case Studies in Environmental Medicine (CSEM) are self-instructional, continuing-education primers designed to increase primary care providers’ knowledge of hazardous substances and aid in the evaluation of patients potentially exposed to hazardous substances. Each CSEM comes with additional companion products such as Grand Rounds in Environmental Medicine and Patient Education/Care Instruction Sheets. Topics for accreditation include asbestos, environmental triggers of asthma, nitrate/nitrite, lead, PCBs toxicity and taking an exposure history. For more, click here.

No more handwritten Medicare claims: What to do instead

From October 9, 2017, NGS will not accept paper claims from Massachusetts providers that are submitted with handwriting outside a signature field. All handwritten claims will be returned to the provider. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Internet-Only Manual (IOM) Publication 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 26, Section 30, "Printing Standards and Print File Specifications Form CMS-1500" (700 KB) contains the printing specifications for the CMS-1500 claim form. Please use this CMS IOM reference to ensure you are completing paper claims correctly. NGS offers two alternatives to handwritten paper claims that will be of little cost to your practice:

  • NGSConnex, our web-based self-service portal, is free of charge. In addition to claims submission, NGSConnex has other useful functions, such as verifying Medicare entitlement, submitting appeals, and viewing and downloading your remittance advice.
  • The Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) page on the NGS website explains how to enroll and what capabilities your office needs to submit electronic claims. NGS can provide you with no-cost claim submission software, PC-ACE.

Reminders! New Medicare Card, AMA Nominations, and more

New Medicare Card: What you and your patients need to know

CMS is removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards to help fight identity theft and safeguard taxpayer dollars. The new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier number will be randomly generated. CMS is referring to this as the New Medicare Card (previously, it was known as the Social Security Number Removal Initiative, or SSNRI). To help you find information quickly, CMS has a new home page linking you to the latest details, including how to talk to your Medicare patients about the New Medicare Card. Please review and bookmark the New Medicare Card home page and Provider web page, so you have the information you need by April 1, 2018, when the new numbering system goes into effect.

Join our AMA delegation: The MMS Committee on Nominations is seeking candidates (Deadline is Thursday!)

The MMS Committee on Nominations is currently considering candidates for nomination as AMA Delegate and Alternate Delegate to the Massachusetts AMA Delegation. The deadline for submission of nomination applications is Thursday, August 17, 4:00 p.m. Visit to learn more about the qualifications and submit your application. Interviews with the Committee on Nominations will be held at MMS Headquarters, Waltham, on Thursday, September 14, 2017, 4:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Applicants should plan to be available on this date. Questions? Please contact Linda Healy (800) 322-2303, ext. 7008 or, or Karen Harrison at ext. 7463 or

MMS grants for International Health Study; apply this summer

Medical students and resident physician members of the MMS are eligible to apply for grants of up to $2,000 to defray the costs of studying abroad. The primary goal of these International Health Studies (IHS) grants, provided by the Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation, is to encourage international education, particularly focusing on under-served populations. Preference will be given to projects providing health care-related work and/or training of staff, and to applicants planning careers serving underprivileged populations. Research projects that do not involve direct clinical care or teaching will not be considered. Programs must last at least three weeks to receive consideration. Applications are due by September 15, 2017; more information about the grants and application expectations.

Educational programs and events

Unless otherwise noted, all events are held at MMS headquarters, 860 Winter St., Waltham, MA.  Visit to view our full calendar of upcoming live CME activities.

Norfolk County Safe Prescribing and Dispensing Conferences
Thursday, September 14, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Randolph, MA
Open to all Norfolk County Registered Prescribers and Pharmacists

The above activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit

Featured Online CME Courses – Risk Management Credit

The above activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit

For additional risk management online CME activities, visit

The above activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit

See our full listing of risk management online CME activities.

This week in health care

Sign up for daily roundups of health news affecting Massachusetts.
Supervised injection sites stir debate
The Massachusetts Medical Society and its president are proponents of supervised injection facilities (SIFs). The group has been urging Massachusetts legislators to pilot a state-run safe injection site program. SIFs would help reduce overdose deaths in a major way, as seen in other countries including Canada and Australia, argues Henry Dorkin, president of the medical society.

Mass. hospitals fall in ranking of nation's best
Massachusetts General Hospital, which took the top spot in 2015 and dropped to third place last year, fell to fourth place on the list. Brigham and Women's, the other hospital that usually makes the list, didn't make the list at all this year. The Brigham earned sixth place in 2015 and 13th in 2016.

$500K awarded to state prisons for opioid treatment
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Monday it is awarding $500,000 in opioid abuse treatment funding for five Bay State prisons. The new money will support a wide range of pre- and post-recovery services for inmates who have abused opioids. Inmates must be within two months of release to be eligible for the programs. The treatment and recovery services will be available to inmates up to one year after their release.

New charges against former Springfield gynecologist
Dr. Rita Luthra and her attorney have argued the government pursued a flimsy case against her that toppled her life's work of providing health care for hundreds of homeless and low-income women.

Pot lobby leveraged cash to tweak law
The total lobbying tab — culled from a Herald review of lobbying records filed with the secretary of state's office — underscores the attention the debate has commanded in the State House, where lawmakers last month passed a new law dictating how the potential billion-dollar industry will operate in Massachusetts.

Alnylam still can't explain trial deaths
More than 10 months after disclosing that patients who received one of its experimental drugs in a late-stage trial had died at a far higher rate than those on placebo, Cambridge-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals still cannot conclusively explain what went wrong.

Fatal opioid overdoses have decreased in parts of Eastern Mass. 
The reported drop-off this year comes after alarming increases in recent years, including a 16 percent jump in Massachusetts, fueled by the widespread availability of fentanyl. But so far this year, deaths in two counties have dropped, an unexpected reversal as opioid deaths continue to rapidly rise nationally. 

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