U.S. Survival Rates Around 6 Percent for Cardiac Arrests Occurring Outside of a Hospital

June 30, 2015

Cardiac arrest strikes almost 600,000 people each year, killing the vast majority of those individuals, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Wide disparities of survival rates exist across the country, but benchmark communities demonstrate that saving more lives is possible. Although evidence indicates that bystander use of CPR and automated external defibrillators can significantly improve survival and outcomes from cardiac arrest, each year less than 3 percent of the U.S. population receives CPR training. To improve health outcomes, the report calls for enhancing the performance of EMS systems; improving systems of care within hospital settings; expanding research in cardiac arrest resuscitation; and educating and training the public on how to recognize cardiac arrest, contact emergency responders, administer CPR, and use automated external defibrillators.

Health Care Wait Times Differ Greatly Throughout U.S

June 29, 2015

Wait times for health care appointments vary tremendously throughout the U.S., ranging from same day service to several months, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report calls for putting patients and families first and using "systems-based approaches" that are applied successfully in other industries to improve access to services. The study committee found that delays in access to health care have negative effects on health outcomes, patient satisfaction, health care utilization, and organizational reputation. Causes for delays include mismatched supply and demand of services, the current provider-focused approach to scheduling, outmoded workforce and care supply models, priority-based queues, care complexity, reimbursement complexity, and financial and geographic barriers.

New Report Examines Options for Tying Insurance Rates to Flood Risk for Low-Lying Structures

June 19, 2015

Approximately 1 million low-lying structures in U.S. floodplains receive subsidized insurance rates that do not reflect the actual risk of flooding. New legislation requiring subsidies to be phased out and replaced by risk-based rates will result in substantial premium increases for most of these structures. A new report from the National Research Council found that current methods used by the National Flood Insurance Program don't fully capture the flood risk for low-lying structures, which are subject to more frequent flooding, longer durations and greater depths of flooding, and more damage from smaller flood events. The report offers alternative approaches for calculating risk-based rates for these structures, identifies critical data needs, and discusses the feasibility and cost of implementing the approaches. Read More

Analysis Used by Federal Agencies to Set Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards for U.S. Cars Was Generally of High Quality

June 18, 2015

The analysis used by federal agencies to set standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for new U.S. light-duty vehicles -- passenger cars and light trucks -- from 2017 to 2025 was thorough and of high caliber overall, says a new report from the National Research Council. However, the agencies should re-examine certain issues -- such as consumer behavior and the effectiveness of certain technologies -- in an upcoming mid-term review. In addition, the report finds, evidence suggests that the standards will lead the nation's light-duty vehicle fleet to become lighter but not less safe. Read More

Pope Issues Encyclical on Climate Change

June 18, 2015

Pope Francis issued a papal letter to the world's bishops reinforcing that human activity is causing climate change, and many developing nations are at particular risk. It calls for lifestyle and energy consumption changes to prevent the degradation of the Earth's ecosystem. The encyclical was informed by input from the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The full collection of National Research Council reports that address various climate change issues is available at, including: Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth Climate Change: Evidence and Causes Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises America's Climate Choices Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts Over Decades to Millennia

Strategic Investments in U.S. Inland Waterways Should Focus on Maintaining Locks and Facilities; User-Pays Funding Strategy Would Promote Economic Efficiency

June 16, 2015

While the U.S. inland waterways system covers a vast geographic area, its freight traffic is highly concentrated, and the system needs a sustainable and well-executed plan for maintaining system reliability and performance to ensure that its resources are directed where they are most essential, says a new report from the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board. More targeted operations and maintenance (O&M) investments informed by an asset management approach would prioritize locks and facilities that are most in need of maintenance and for which the economic impacts of disruption would be highest. Read More

Advisory Group for Human Gene Editing Initiative Named

June 15, 2015

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine have formed an advisory group to counsel the NAS and NAM presidents on their new initiative on human gene editing. The role of the advisory group will be to identify and gather information and advice from the scientific and medical communities that will enable the academies to guide and inform researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and the public. Read More

New Report Says U.S. Freight Rail Regulations Outdated, Recommends Modernization Efforts

June 10, 2015

While a 1980 reform law enabled the modernization and stabilization of the U.S. freight railroad industry, federal regulation has not kept pace with the industry's transformation and should be replaced with a system better-suited for today's freight rail system, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board. Current policies designed to protect rail shippers who lack transportation options from excessive rates are not working for shippers of most commodities, including grain. More appropriate, reliable, and usable procedures are needed to resolve these rate disputes without threatening the earnings railroads need to pay for their capital-intensive networks. Read More

Review of FAA's Certification Research Plan

June 8, 2015

The FAA's research plan for certifying new technologies into the national airspace system lacks detail and does not demonstrate how integration of aircraft, ground systems, and procedures will occur, says a new National Research Council report.

New Report Finds Some Improvements From D.C. School Reform Efforts, But Gaps in Learning Opportunities, Academic Outcomes, and Oversight Persist

June 3, 2015

While there have been some improvements in the public schools of the District of Columbia since a 2007 reform law, significant disparities remain in learning opportunities and academic progress across student groups and the city’s wards, says a new report from the National Research Council. The governance structure does not clearly address monitoring of learning conditions and outcomes for all public school students, nearly half of whom attend charter schools, and the city should create a comprehensive “data warehouse” to better track this information.

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