Table of Contents: May 2007

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Vol. 103 No. 5  


Taking HIT Out of the Box
Proponents tout health information technology (HIT) as the solution for improving efficiency, patient safety, and quality, while reining in costs. And policymakers across the country are trying to fast-track HIT development and implementation. Now, Texas lawmakers appear to be jumping on the bandwagon. Although a committee appointed by the governor didn't come up with any formal proposals, several legislators are moving forward with bills to put HIT initiatives into effect.

By Ken Ortolon 


Robot, MD
A growing number of surgeons are using robots to perform procedures on their patients. The devices are expensive, but patients normally require less pain medication postoperatively, have shorter hospital stays, and return to work or normal life much more quickly.

By Ken Ortolon 


Cookbook Comp?
Texas Department of Insurance workers' compensation officials have issued new treatment and return-to-work guidelines that they say will improve the treatment that injured workers receive from physicians and other health care professionals. But skeptical physicians aren't convinced. They contend the guidelines will lead to cookbook medicine.

By Ken Ortolon 


The Medicare Disadvantage
Medicare Advantage plans are creating considerable confusion among seniors and big headaches for physicians. Many of the patients are confused over what they are buying, some are stuck with higher out-of-pocket costs, and doctors are having trouble getting paid.

By Ken Ortolon 


Chagas Disease
Chagas disease is rare, and transmitting it by blood transfusion is rarer still. But TMA's Committee on Blood and Tissue Usage offers some information about the disease and blood donor screening so physicians will know where to seek additional information if necessary.

By Steffini Stalos, DO, MS, and Kevin Land, MD 

TMA 2006 Annual Report


TMA, Blue Cross Agree on BlueCompare Modifications
Ask the TMA Knowledge Center
TexasMedicine Offers Poster for Your Office
Doctors Company Approves Dividend for Policyholders
Former Texas Medicine  Associate Editor Wins Jordan Award 
Important PCCM Program Updates
Diversity Is Subject of Dallas Conference
Online Death Registration Is Available
Is This a New Patient or Established Patient?
A Hard Hat for a Little Head 


ACIP Changes 2007 Vaccine Recommendations
The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends three new vaccinations for children: flu vaccine annually for all children aged 6 months to 5 years; a second dose of chickenpox vaccine for 4- to 6-year-olds; and the new rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, in three doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months.

Billing for Hospice Services
How can you continue to be paid by Medicare for the services you provide patients who are enrolled in hospice? The rules are complicated, but make sure you use these modifiers: the GV, the GW, and the Q5.

Payment Help From HIPP
Some of your Medicaid patients may be eligible for the Health Insurance Premium Payment program, which pays for the cost of medical premiums when it is less expensive to pay the insurance premiums than the projected Medicaid cost. 


Reducing Contraband in a Psychiatric Hospital Through the Use of a Metal Detector (abstract)

By Terry A. Rustin, MD



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