AAOS Bulletin - June, 2006

In the news

AAOS files amicus curiae brief in Minnesota case

The AAOS has joined with the Minnesota Hospital Association, Minnesota Medical Association, American Medical Association, Minnesota Orthopaedic Society, American College of Emergency Physicians, and American Academy of Pediatrics in filing an amicus curiae brief with the Minnesota Supreme Court in Becker v. Mayo Foundation. The issue in the case is whether Minnesota will create a new cause of action imposing civil liability on physicians for failing to report suspected child abuse. The brief argues that the Minnesota Legislature made a policy decision when it enacted the child protection statute by imposing only criminal liability on physicians and that the courts are not the proper venue for changing this decision. It also argues that policy decisions should only be made through the legislative process where all parties are given an opportunity to be heard and the issue can be fairly considered. 

McClellan testifies on “never events,” specialty hospitals

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, CMS administrator Mark B. McClellan, MD, PhD, said the agency is considering not paying for “never events,” which are serious, preventable medical errors such as wrong-site surgery, mismatched blood transfusions and medication errors.

Dr. McClellan also said the CMS is beginning to develop a strategic plan regarding physician investment in specialty hospitals. Although the agency does not plan to extend a suspension on Medicare payments to new physician-owned specialty hospitals past Aug. 8, specialty hospitals that open for business after that date likely will do so under tighter financial disclosure and transparency rules.

The CMS interim report on specialty hospitals issued earlier this year described the agency’s efforts to align the payment differentials between hospital outpatient departments, specialty hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs); make more appropriate Medicare payments; and remove financial incentives for performing procedures in particular settings. Because many orthopaedic and surgical specialty hospitals are more similar to ASCs than to acute care hospitals, the CMS wants to encourage organizations to seek ASC status where appropriate. Therefore, it is proposing to expand the procedures eligible for payment in ASCs to “all surgical procedures performed in hospital outpatient departments except for those that pose a significant safety risk or overnight stay.”

The report also refers to the changes in the fiscal year 2007 Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule regarding the obligations of specialty hospitals under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). The CMS proposal, which would become effective in fiscal year 2007, would require “all hospitals (including specialty hospitals) with specialized capabilities to accept appropriate transfers of unstable patients covered by EMTALA, without regard to whether the hospital has an emergency department.” For more information, visit CMS online.

ABMS issues alert about “boardcertified.com” invoices

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has issued an alert about an unauthorized marketing campaign being used by a Web site called boardcertified.com, and targeting diplomates of ABMS member boards. The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) is a member board of the ABMS.

Diplomates have received fax messages (“Renewal Notices”) from the site, bearing the ABMS and American Medical Association (AMA) acronyms. The message states that if the form is not completed and returned with a fee to the site by a certain date, the recipient’s “membership” will expire and his or her “online listing” will be deactivated.

ABMS warns diplomates that boardcertified.com is not a licensee of the ABMS or AMA and is not authorized to use the ABMS or AMA names or acronyms. ABMS also states that a failure to return the form or pay the fee will not have any effect on the diplomate’s certification or listing in the ABMS database. Questions or information about this unauthorized effort should be directed to the ABMS at (847) 491-9091, ext. 3005, or e-mailed to rnelson@abms.org

CMS issues coverage decision on artificial lumbar spinal disc approval

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a national noncoverage determination for lumbar artificial disc replacement in the Medicare population over 60 years of age, but also has agreed to allow local medical directors to approve paying for the device in beneficiaries under the age of 60. CMS noted that there is currently only one artificial spinal disc implant approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that when another lumbar spinal disc implant receives FDA approval, CMS will, by external request or internal direction, reconsider this decision with a thorough review of the evidence for each new disc implant. To read more about the determination, go to the CMS Web site.

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