As combat casualties mount in Iraq and Afghanistan, hospitalists are beginning to see the mental health consequences of the wars here on the home front. A recent RAND study of returning U.S. troops found that 20% of soldiers had depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Because these illnesses often take time to appear, veterans are turning up at both VA and community hospitals with symptoms that can be easy to misdiagnose or miss entirely, reports Jessica Berthold in this month's cover story. Even when treating veterans for seemingly unrelated problems, hospitalists should be on the lookout for common signs of PTSD, like headache and fatigue, and prepared with screening questions about combat trauma.
Continuing our overseas focus, a feature story explains how U.S. hospitalists can assist colleagues in developing countries while also saving money and helping the environment. Instead of throwing away unwrapped, unused medical supplies (like gloves, syringes and catheters), some hospitals are using the REMEDY network—founded by a Connecticut anesthesiologist in 1991—to connect with needy clinics and hospitals in Africa, South America and other spots around the globe. The steps to start a program are few and the list of needed supplies is lengthy—check it out and see if your hospital can lend a hand (or a hemo clip).
This issue also features the debut of a new regular feature, Measure of the Month. Hospitalist Lisa Kirkland, FACP, will break down the codes you need to know to collect a bonus under CMS’ 2008 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative. Hospitalists have 11 measures available to them (Dr. Kirkland's first installment covers heart failure) and can choose up to three to report on in order to receive as much as an extra 1.5% of allowed Medicare charges.
You may notice some new names on this page. ACP Hospitalist editor Jennifer Kearney-Strouse is taking maternity leave (congratulations, Jen!), so the rest of our staff will be sharing editing duties in her absence. As always, we appreciate your feedback and you can continue to reach us at acphospitalist[EACHAT]acponline.org.