New AMA guide on treating foodborne illness

In partnership with a national nursing organization and several federal agencies, the AMA released an educational guide on April 7 about how health care professionals should identify and treat foodborne illnesses. "Diagnosis and Management of Foodborne Illnesses: A Primer for Physicians and Other Health Care Professionals" contains charts, scenarios and a continuing medical education section. It is free to health care professionals.

Initially introduced in 2001, the primer contains five new sections on new and re-emerging foodborne illnesses and emphasizes living in the post 9-11 environment. Recent concerns about hepatitis A and norovirus outbreaks have necessitated vigilance among health care providers in detecting foodborne pathogens – including the deliberate contamination of food.

"Approximately 76 million Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year, and 5,000 deaths each year are attributed to foodborne illness," said AMA Trustee Cecil B. Wilson, MD. "Health care professionals are the front line of prevention. Arming physicians with the latest information on foodborne illnesses helps them better diagnose and treat their patients."

The guide gives doctors, nurses and other health care providers a way to help their patients protect themselves and their loved ones from foodborne illnesses. It also emphasizes the need for speedy and accurate reporting of such cases to public health agencies to prevent the spread of illnesses and associated infections in children and immune-compromised people.

The primer was created though a partnership of the AMA and the American Nurses Association-American Nurses Foundation in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Food Safety Office, the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

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