The Healthy Benefits of Texas Medical Liability Reform

NOTE: This article is written in response to D Healthcare Daily’s article: Studies: Texas Tort Reform Has Had No Effect on Physician Supply, Lowering Costs It’s clockwork. Nine years ago this week, Texas voters approved our desperately needed medical liability reforms. Just like every other year at this time, the trial lawyers’ propaganda machine is once again trying to convince Texans to ignore the improvements they’re seeing all around them. I’m pleased to report on some new research that soundly contradicts the naysayers’ rhetoric. In 2003, the Texas Legislature passed sweeping liability reforms to combat healthcare lawsuit abuse, reverse physicians’… Full Story

Morning Rounds (09.10.12)

Just half of all physicians meet federal standards for Electronic Health Record systems. Click to see which doctors are most and least likely to be in compliance.

An increase in cholesterol screenings has led to more diagnosed cases of high cholesterol, from 33.2 percent to 35 percent nationwide. Texas saw a 21.2 percent increase—the second highest increase in diagnoses behind Arizona (22.2 percent).

Fewer than 25 percent of people with hypertension treat it correctly. Out of 66.9 million, 35.8 million do not have their hypertension controlled, 14.1 million are unaware they have hypertension, and 5.7 million were aware of their diagnosis but not receiving treatment, while only 16 million were aware and receiving treatment.

The 2011 National Immunization Survey finds that nationwide vaccination coverage among children aged 19 to 35 months increased or remained stable in the last year and met or exceeded national objectives. Trends in Texas are consistent with national data, with the state experiencing a significant increase in coverage for the HepB birth vaccine since 2010.

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Morning Rounds (09.07.12)

Dallas officials will mark the ground-breaking of a six-story, $108 million Charles A. Sammons Trauma and Critical Care Tower at Methodist Dallas Medical Center on Sept. 11. Slated to open in 2014, the 248,000-square-foot facility will be completely dedicated to emergency and trauma care.

Patient spending among those seeking treatment for neck and back problems in the U.S. has nearly doubled since the late 1990s, with the bulk majority of spending in medical specialist care.

The American Heart Association reports that patients are more likely to survive cardiac arrest when longer resuscitation attempts are implemented. Revival rates were 12 percent higher at hospitals with median resuscitation times of 25 minutes, as opposed to hospitals treating for a median of 16 minutes.
The Institute of Medicine has released a report calling for a better healthcare system, in light of recent science and technological advances. An 18-member expert committee released its 382-page report, “Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America.” Here’s a synopsis.

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Morning Rounds (09.06.12)

Parker University will add three degree programs in January as part of a plan to develop 12 new programs through 2017. The programs were chosen in response to high demand among students, an increase in industry salaries, and changes in occupational healthcare trends, the university says.

About 7,000 women in DFW must now find an alternative to Planned Parenthood after the state officially cut its funding because the clinics offer abortions. An appeal of the ruling is under way.

A UT Southwestern medical student was featured on three episodes of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” The contestent didn’t win the big prize, but he certainly didn’t go home empty-handed.

Nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure. The CDC reports that more than half of those people—36 million—don’t have it under control and recommends team-based approaches to help the problem. Full Story

Morning Rounds (09.04.12)

As part of a deal with the Department of State Health Services, Parkland Health & Hospital System will pay a $1 million fine for patient safety and quality-of-care deficiencies. The agreement resolves and discharges all potential enforcement actions for compliance issues before May 31, 2012

The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) is calling on physicians and other health care professionals to participate in the upcoming large free clinic for uninsured persons at the Dallas Convention Center, Hall A, 650 South Griffin St., on Sept. 29.

Twenty new North Texas schools are joining Troy Aikman and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas in the fight against childhood obesity. Find out which area schools are now part of the Healthy Zone School Recognition.

Plaza Medical Center of Fort Worth will begin performing kidney transplants next month. The initiative will operate under the name Fort Worth Transplant Institute, with Dr. George Rofaiel as the surgical director and Dr. Bala Sankar as the medical director. Full Story

Morning Rounds (08.28.12)

A growing healthcare client base is sparking a hiring spree at Irving-based Aegis. The global outsourcing services company is adding 1,080 jobs at its Irving centers.

4G Biometrics and Methodist Richardson Medical Center are among the winners of the Metroplex Technology Business Council’s 2012 Tech Titans awards. UTA’s Dr. Mario Romero-Ortega and UTD’s Robert L. Robb also were among those honored. Here’s a complete rundown.

With the recent landmark Supreme Court decision, it’s no surprise that John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States, ranked No. 1 on Modern Healthcare’s 2012 “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” list. Three local CEOs also made the list. Find out who.

Southlake and Flower Mound have voted to approve aerial spraying to combat West Nile Virus. Denton, Carrollton, and Coppell are among the Denton County cities opting out. Here’s where things currently stand. Full Story

Studies: Texas Tort Reform Has Had No Effect on Physician Supply, Lowering Costs

Conventional wisdom for many is that the 2003 Texas constitutional amendment limiting medical malpractice lawsuits has created in an influx of physicians from out-of-state and tempered healthcare costs. Others argued that medical malpractice caps would bring down healthcare costs. The assumption is that physicians would be less inclined to practice defensive medicine. Also, fewer malpractice cases would be filed, with savings from lower litigation costs and less expensive malpractice premiums resulting in lower healthcare costs. However, three studies have sharply challenged all of these assumptions. Four researchers—including a University of Texas law professor—concluded that there was no evidence that Texas… Full Story

Fewer than 15 Percent of Nation’s Hospitals are Planning ACOs for 2013

A nationwide survey of nearly 1,700 hospitals shows that just 13 percent are participating in—or plan to participate in—accountable care organizations in the next year. Locally, Texas Health Resources and North Texas Specialty Physicians were the first to participate in Medicare’s Pioneer ACO model. Last month, Methodist Health System announced it also was forming an ACO, with about 270 independent physicians. According to a report from The Commonwealth Fund, nearly all (93 percent) of existing hospital ACOs are physician-driven—either created as joint ventures between hospitals and physicians (57 percent) or physician-led (26 percent). An ACO is a network of healthcare… Full Story

HHS Extends Deadline for ICD-10 Compliance

The federal government has extended the compliance deadline for a nationwide conversion to ICD-10 code sets. The new deadline—Oct. 1, 2014—gives healthcare organizations an additional year to prepare for the changeover. The rule is one of a series of changes required by the Affordable Care Act to cut red tape in the healthcare system. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it will save up to $6 billion over 10 years. “These new standards are a part of our efforts to help providers and health plans spend less time filling out paperwork and more time seeing their patients,”… Full Story

New CMS Audit Program Gets Under Way

A CMS antifraud program that kicks off today is targeting hospitals and physicians in Texas and 10 other states. The project allows recovery audit contractors to review the medical necessity of claims before the providers are paid. The Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor project aims to stop improper fee-for-service payments before they happen. Initial reviews will target hospitals and focus on short inpatient hospital stays. The efforts will focus on seven states with providers prone to errors and fraud (California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, and Texas), and four with large volumes of short inpatient hospital stays (Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio,… Full Story