Table of Contents -- January 2004

Texas Medicine Logo

Vol. 100 No. 1

COVER STORY

Doctor Cops
If the district attorney in Amarillo has her way, a new state law aimed at protecting unborn children may turn physicians into cops or, worse, jailbirds. The problem is a disagreement over whether the law requires physicians to turn in pregnant women who are using illegal drugs. The legislator who wrote the bill says that's not what he meant at all. Meanwhile, others fear the law may keep pregnant junkies from seeking prenatal care.

By Ken Ortolon

LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS

The Baby Blues
Still horrified by the Andrew Yates case two years ago, the legislature passed a bill requiring new mothers to be given information about resources to help them deal with postpartum depression.While some physicians may see the law as yet another state-mandated requirement, one OB/Gyn says doctors should already be looking for warning signs of postpartum depression and discussing it with their patients.

By Ken Ortolon

LAW

In Their Laps
Two lawsuits against HMOs that originated in Texas may end up causing the U.S. Supreme Court to finally tear down the ERISA wall that health insurers have hidden behind for almost 30 years. The central issue is whether patients can sue HMOs when they make harmful decisions on medical necessity.

By Walt Borges

PUBLIC HEALTH

Worth the Cost?
The risk of errors in blood transfusion is at an all-time low, and the federal government has mandated some new tests that will make it even safer. The question is whether the additional costs are worth it.

By Ken Ortolon

M EDICAL ECONOMICS

Too Many Edits
While they welcome one insurer's attempt to do a better job of letting doctors know why they are being paid what they are, TMA leaders believe there should be a system of standardized edits that will be used by all health plans. The problem is that too many insurers use complicated claims-processing software that ends up cutting physician payments. 

By Walt Borges

MANAGING YOUR PRACTICE

When a Patient Won't Go Away
What happens if you discharge a patient because he won't follow your instructions and then you have to treat him in the emergency room and schedule a follow-up? Is he still fired?

Document, Document, Document
Medical records can be your best or worse defense if you ever face allegations of medical malpractice. Here's what you should do.

Avoiding Improper Payments
If you get a request for payment records from Medicare, be sure and send in those records. It can have an effect on audits.   

EMTALA's Exceptions
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) gives you two excusable reasons for not responding to the hospital emergency department when called.

Don't Take Any Chances
Even if an insurer verifies that it will pay for a medial service, you still have to file a clean claim to be paid under the state's prompt payment rules.

TMA ONLINE: www.texmed.org

ROUNDS

TMA Conference Features TSBME, Demographics
Women Boost Medical School Applications
Your Dues Dollars at Work for You
Web Site Helps Report Child Abuse and Neglect
BCM to Use Internet to Fight Childhood Obesity
UT-San Antonio to Study Desert Fever
Doctors Are the Second Worst Drivers
Surgery May Fix Sweaty Palms
TMA Provides Funds for Medical School Scholarships
High School Smoking Drops, Middle School Stays the Same
George Alexander, MD, Dies
Dispatches from the Front

SPECIAL SECTION

HIPAA Security: You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

JOURNAL

Predicting Risk for Disciplinary Action by a State Medical Board ( abstract )

By Roberto Cardarelli, DO, MPH; John C. Licciardone, DO, MS; and Gilbert Ramírez, DrPH

DEPARTMENTS

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From Your President
Commentary
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Texas Medicine is available to TMA members and presents timely information on public health, medicolegal issues, medical economics, science, medical education, and legislative affairs affecting Texas physicians and their patients.


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