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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on April 30th, 2014

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review


Rio Grande Valley Vein Clinic v. Guerrero
A customer alleging she was burned while she was receiving laser hair removal treatments filed suit against the laser hair removal clinic. The clinic sought dismissal on the basis that the claim was a health care liability claim and the customer did not serve an expert report. The Texas Supreme Court held that expert health care testimony was necessary to prove or refute the customer’s claim because only a physician can acquire or supervise the use of the laser at issue. The court rejected the customer’s claim that because she was treated only by a nurse, no physician-patient relationship existed. The Court held that a physician-patient relationship can exist even in circumstances where the physician deals indirectly with the patient.


Government Investigating Theft of Physician’s Tax Returns
The U.S. Secret Service and IRS are investigating widespread reports that identity thieves have targeted the tax refunds of physicians. The American Medical Association has reportedly received notice of tax fraud from state medical groups in Connecticut, Maine, Indiana, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

Bill Gates Raises Awareness of Vaccine Cost-Effectiveness Through Twitter
An infographic recently tweeted by Bill Gates is raising awareness of how cheap, and cost-effective, vaccines purchased by UNICEF on behalf of developing nations can be, with many costing less than $1. At 0$0.19 per dose, the DTP vaccine alone can prevent more than 250,000 deaths per year from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.

Veterans on ‘Secret List’ Languish and Die While Waiting for Treatment
At least 40 veterans have died while waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System. According to CNN, Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix developed an elaborate scheme to conceal that more than 1,400 veterans have been forced to wait for months to see a physician. A retired VA physician told the network that officials destroyed documents reflecting how long patients were actually waiting for appointments to create the appearance that they were improving wait times.

Study: $84,000 Hepatitis Treatment Costs Less than $150 to Make
A full course of what is being hailed as a miracle cure for hepatitis C only costs $68 to $136 to make, according to an analysis published in Clinical Infectious Disease in January. Articles on the drug evaluated in the analysis note that the $84,000 price tag for the 12-week treatment is reasonable when compared to the $270,000 price tag of living with chronic liver disease for 10 years, or the $577,100 cost associated with a liver transplant.

Doctors Becoming More Aggressive About Payments as Medical Debts Rise
Between 2008 and 2012, multispecialty practices have seen bad debt increase by up to 14% according to a recent study by the Medical Group Management Association. Some practices have responded to the trend by changing their billing strategies, with some now collecting payments before procedures are performed or reaching out to collection agencies sooner. In the past, many practices would wait for up to six months before contacting a collection agency.

Rural Hospitals Challenged by Transition to Electronic Medical Records
As American hospitals make the transition to electronic medical records, many rural hospitals are facing a tough decision. Often cash strapped and without access to information technology specialists, some smaller hospitals are turning to their larger counterparts for help. These arrangements can result in a loss of independence for rural hospitals, but those that do not make the transition will face financial penalties if they do not meet federal digital records standards by October.

Measles Cases at Highest Level in Almost Two Decades
Reports of measles are at the highest level in almost two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 13 outbreaks have resulted in 129 cases in the first four months of 2014, with California reporting the highest number of cases.

 Study: Medicare Pays Male Doctors More
An analysis of the recently released Medicare payment data suggests that male physicians see more Medicare patients and receive more payment in return than female physicians do. The analysis found that female physicians earn only 53% of what their male counterparts earn from Medicare, but also found that male physicians see 60% more patients. Male physicians reportedly billed for an average of 5.7 services per patient, while female physicians billed for an average 4.7 services per patient.

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