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Expanded Web site will help primary care physicians diagnose smallpox, anthrax, and other bioterrorism-related infections

A Web site sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is being expanded to help 265,000 primary care physicians across the country learn how to diagnose and treat rare infections and exposures to bioterrorism agents such as smallpox and anthrax. When it was launched in January, the Web site was the first of its kind to offer free continuing education credits in bioterrorism preparedness to 50,000 hospital-based clinicians.

An additional $400,000 in funding is being made available to expand the Web site's educational modules and make them accessible to an additional 265,000 office-based internists, family physicians, pediatricians, and dermatologists. This brings to 315,000 the total number of clinicians who can use the site.

Designed by researchers in the Center for Disaster Preparedness at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) under a contract from AHRQ, the site currently offers five online courses for hospital emergency department physicians, nurses, radiologists, pathologists, and infection control practitioners. Courses cover identification of potential bioterrorism agents and commonly associated syndromes, including smallpox and anthrax.

During the Web site's first 4 months of operation, there were more than 580,000 visits to the site, and more than 700 providers earned continuing education credits. There currently is no cost to take the courses, and each offers 1 hour of continuing education credit.

Courses were developed by a diverse group of researchers and clinicians representing various fields, including emergency medicine, health administration, public health, nursing, and education. Lead investigators for the project are Thomas Terndrup, M.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UAB and Director of UAB's Center for Disaster Preparedness, and Norman Weissman, Ph.D., Professor of Health Services Administration and Medicine and Director of UAB's Center for Outcomes Research and Education.

Select for more information on continuing education credit courses.

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