Monday RX PPE

COVID 19 Testing Update | A letter from federal health officials instructing states to be ready to begin distributing a vaccine by Nov. 1 is being met with suspicion by some, optimism by others.

The skepticism comes amid growing questions about the scientific credibility of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and their vulnerability to political pressure.

Three COVID-19 vaccines are undergoing final-stage, or Phase 3, clinical trials. The FDA will not be able to even consider a vaccine until several other key steps occur.

First, independent experts on what are known as data safety monitoring boards, or DSMBs, will have to rule that they have collected enough information to draw firm conclusions about a vaccine's performance. Then the experts will make the data available to the manufacturer, which will decide whether to submit it for FDA approval.

Whether and when to stop a study early is up to a DSMB, whose scientists see a study's results as they are accumulating. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, said on CNN that it is unlikely but "not impossible" that a vaccine could win approval in October, instead of November or December, as many experts believe.

COVID-19 testing is not only critical for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 but is also a key component to getting the pandemic under control and reopening our state. COVID-19 testing is the responsibility of our entire health care system, and physicians are a critical component of ensuring the right individuals are tested, at the right place and at the right time.

To better understand the physician experience with COVID-19 testing, CMA and California COVID-19 Testing Taskforce partnered to conduct a survey of California physicians.

The survey results highlight the immediate need for improvements in the testing supply chain, timelier test processing, and better data and reporting of COVID-19 test results. Key survey results show:

  • Widespread challenges obtaining necessary supplies to collect COVID-19 specimens, with 73% of physicians having trouble obtaining test collection kits or personal protective equipment.
  • Pervasive problems getting test results in a timely manner when tests are sent out to a third-party lab for processing. Only 24% of tests are ready in 48 hours when processed by a third party, compared to 91% of tests processed on-site.
  • A breakdown in the feedback loop to physicians, with 4 out of 10 physicians not consistently receiving their patient’s COVID-19 molecular test results.

More than 800 physician practices responded to the survey, representing all modes of practice in a broad range of specialties across 45 counties.

Where do you stand on testing?  What can LACMA do to support your access to testing supplies, resources, and support?

A Shortage of Syringes?

Case counts, hospitalizations, and stay-at-home orders have rightfully been dominating COVID-19 news coverage, but there is a serious challenge looming on the horizon that few are aware of and even fewer are talking about: a syringe shortage.

A worldwide shortage of hypodermic needles and syringes could threaten nations’ abilities to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to their citizens during a mass global inoculation once a vaccine is approved. In a letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, one Trump administration official estimated that the United States alone would require 850 million needles and syringes to deliver COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

According to Physician Practice, as of early May, the Strategic National Stockpile held just 15 million syringes, two percent of the required amount, according to a complaint filed by Rick Bright who served as the director of HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Since then, the federal government has signed contracts with four companies to produce more syringes, but those contracts call for 420 million needles through the end of 2021, USA Today reported.

Physicians Face new Liabilities with COVID 19

Physicians in solo and small practices face unprecedented hurdles in a current and post COVID environment.  From patients claiming they contracted the virus from a physician practice setting, to delays in care in the absence of a telemedicine platform and more, physicians are under intense scrutiny.  Stephanie Sheps, JD, Vice President of Claims at Covery’s Medical Liability out of Boston, MA, provides common COVID 19 related claims and options for providers.

Tribute to Dr. Vincent Gualtieri |Dr. Gualtieri, or “Dr. G” as he was affectionately known, passed away July 26th at the age of 86. Dr. G was a urologist serving the Sherman Oaks community for more than 40 years.  He was beloved by generations of patients and respected by his peers.  He served as LACMA president and chief of staff at Sherman Oaks Hospital.  A native of Italy, he and his wife Gina were active with the Patrons of Italian Culture, supported the Music Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  

Comments from LACMA Members:

“I have known Dr. Gualtieri for many, many years.  We served together both on the Board of LACMA, LACMA Delegation to the CMA and the CMA Delegation to the AMA.  He was always a gentle, soft-spoken caring individual.  He wanted to learn all sides of health policy issues and was deeply concerned about the doctor patient relationship.  He was truly an outstanding advocate for both patients and physicians.  He mentored me early in my advocacy career and provided guidance in how to influence fellow physicians.  He will be greatly missed.” 

- Dr. David Aizuss

“I was a member of his board and found him to be an effective leader who worked hard and was always available to mentor younger physicians.  He was always diplomatic, and never had a harsh word for anyone. We had several patients together as well and I always appreciated and respected his impact on their medical care.”

- Dr. Sam Fink

If you would like to share your memories email:

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