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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on February 11th, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review

CASES

Baker v. Texas Medical Board
A surgeon who performed a kyphoplasty procedure—a treatment for vertebral fractures— four days after he was ordered by the Texas Medical Board not to perform spinal surgery appealed the subsequent revocation of his license. Experts on the surgeon’s behalf testified that kyphoplasty is minimally invasive and does not constitute spinal surgery, while the Board’s experts testified to the contrary and noted that the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons considers the procedure spinal surgery. The appellate court upheld the license revocation, holding that substantial evidence was introduced that kyphoplasty qualifies as spinal surgery.

Nacogdoches Heart Clinic v. Pokala
The majority owner of a cath lab sued the minority owner for violation of a covenant not to compete following a dispute that prompted the minority owner to open a competing cardiology practice. The trial court noted a shortage of cardiologists in the community and found the non-compete agreement void for violating public policy. The Tyler appellate court affirmed, highlighting the minority owner’s willingness to treat patients who could not pay and the majority owner’s preference not to provide free treatment. A provision in the employment agreement that the minority owner would forfeit the full value of his shares if he did not resign from the community’s hospitals also constituted an unenforceable covenant not to compete.

NEWS

Texas Children’s Hospital Ranked Among Nation’s Best
Texas Children’s Hospital has been named one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents magazine. The magazine featured Texas Children’s Hospital for having the world’s only pediatric lymphoma research center and noted the hospital’s innovation in epilepsy treatment.

Health Law Reforms to Transform Medical Schools
Medical colleges are responding to changes under the federal health law by promoting programs that teach doctors how to coordinate care with other health care workers to adapt to new models of health care that emphasize centralized and patient-focused care.

Affordable Care Act Rules Proposed
The Department of Health and Human Services has issued proposed rules related to religious exemptions to mandated contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The department clarified that religious organizations will not forfeit their exemptions by engaging in non-religious activities, such as operating a soup kitchen or by employing non-members of the faith. The department also issued proposals related to individual exceptions to the minimum coverage mandate.

Hospitals Reviving House Calls
Hospitals are exploring the use of house calls as a means to reduce hospital visits. A growing number of hospitals are dispatching doctors, nurses, and other health care providers to patients’ homes to administer treatment, confirm proper medication use, and assess environmental hazards such as fall risks.

Hospice Use Up, But Aggressive Care Still Common
Hospice use at time of death increased considerably between 2000 and 2009, but an increase in the number of short hospice stays following hospitalizations suggests that aggressive care is also being increasingly provided. Researchers evaluating Medicare claims data from more than 800,000 seniors 66 and older found that while access to hospice services increased, there were also more ICU visits, hospitalizations, and late transitions in the last three days of life.

1 in 10 Doctors Plan to Transition to Concierge Practice
Almost 10% of practice owners recently surveyed plan to forego treating Medicare patients and develop concierge practices. In a concierge practice doctors contract directly with patients to provide all primary care without involving insurers, generally for a fixed monthly fee as low as $50 per month.

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