AAOS Bulletin - December, 2005

In the news

AAOS files amicus curiae brief in S.C. physical therapy case

The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of South Carolina Association of Medical Professionals and South Carolina Orthopaedic Association vs. South Carolina State Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. The case centers on an advisory opinion issued by the Office of Attorney General of South Carolina that interprets state law to prohibit physical therapists from accepting in-house referrals from physician employers and permits the physical therapy board to punish physical therapists and physical therapist assistants for accepting such referrals. The trial court accepted the advisory opinion’s conclusion that such referrals are not in patients’ best interest.

In the brief, the AAOS argues that the trial court erred because referrals are in patients’ best interest and because the circuit court failed to consider the actual dynamics of referrals. The brief states that referrals enhance patient care by creating greater access to treatment and improve the quality of care because physicians are directly involved in treatment. It also states that referrals decrease the cost of health care and enhance the effectiveness of the entire health care system. The AAOS asks the court to reverse the judgment of the circuit court. The brief was filed conditionally and the court has not yet officially agreed to consider it.

The AAOS considers this an important issue and has created a position statement in support of physician ownership of physical therapy services. A copy of this statement is available online.

Physician/patient teams needed for AAOS 2006 Research Capitol Hill Days

AAOS is seeking physician/patient teams to participate in its annual Research Capitol Hill Days event, Feb. 15-16, 2006, in Washington, D.C. This event gives physicians, researchers, and patients the opportunity to meet with targeted members of Congress to personally advocate for the future of musculoskeletal research. Attendance is limited and only a few slots remain. Contact Christy M.P. Gilmour, manager, medical research, at (847) 384-4323 or gilmour@aaos.org. For more information on the Research Capitol Hill Days program visit the AAOS Web site.

AAOS, FPSC to develop specialty benchmarks

The AAOS has signed an agreement with Oakbrook, Ill.-based Faculty Practice Solutions Center (FPSC) to develop orthopaedic subspecialty benchmarks for orthopaedists in academic practice. FPSC is a joint initiative of the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC); it is operated by UHC. At present, more than 70 academic institutions representing more than 1,400 orthopaedists are members of FPSC.

Benchmarks will be created for several subspecialties: hand, foot/ankle, sports, joint/adult reconstruction, spine, shoulder/elbow, pediatrics, trauma and general orthopaedics. Benchmarks will include work and total relative value units (RVUs) per clinical full-time-equivalent (FTE) physician, billed charges per clinical FTE, and evaluation and management (E&M) coding distributions.

FPSC will provide AAOS with aggregated information regarding the subspecialty benchmarks for publication to Academy members. Participating institutions will receive detailed information about the benchmarks; they will also receive data regarding the RVUs, the billed charges and the E&M code distributions of their own affiliated orthopaedic surgeons. AAOS will not be disclosing any confidential information regarding its members to FPSC or any third party. Similarly, FPSC will not be disclosing any confidential information relating to any of its member organizations to any other organization.

The initiative to develop subspecialty benchmarks is the first of its kind in orthopaedics. AAOS encourages academic orthopaedic department chairs to participate in the initiative by submitting data to FPSC. Institutions interested in becoming FPSC members should contact Jeff L. Good, UHC’s assistant director for group practice, by phone (630) 954-4717 or e-mail at good@uhc.edu  

NIH seeks nominations for Director’s Pioneer Award

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking nominations for the 2006 Director’s Pioneer Award, which supports creative scientists who propose pioneering approaches to major challenges in biomedical research. Up to 10 new awards of up to $500,000 in direct costs per year for five years will be presented in September 2006. Women, members of groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research, and individuals in the early to middle stages of their careers are especially encouraged to apply. The application period opens on Jan. 15, 2006. Applications must be received by Feb. 27, 2006.

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