Published 9/1/2010

Second Look—Advocacy

If you missed these Headline News Now items the first time around, AAOS Now gives you a second chance to review them. Headline News Now—the AAOS thrice-weekly, online update of news of interest to orthopaedic surgeons—brings you the latest on clinical, socioeconomic, and political issues, as well as important announcements from AAOS.

Harvard limits faculty/industry interactions
The Boston Globe
reported that, beginning Jan. 1, 2011, Harvard Medical School will prohibit its faculty from giving promotional talks for drug and medical device makers and from accepting personal gifts, travel, or meals. The rules will also strengthen limits on the income faculty can earn from companies for consulting, joining boards, and other work; require public reporting of payments of at least $5,000; and improve internal reporting and monitoring of these relationships. Faculty still will be allowed to conduct industry-funded research and work as paid members of company scientific advisory boards.

AMA: 95 liability claims for every 100 physicians
According to a report based on the American Medical Association’s (AMA) 2007–2008 Physician Practice Information survey, an average of 95 medical liability claims were filed for every 100 physicians in the United States during the survey period. Only 5 percent of claims went to trial; 65 percent were dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn; 25.7 percent were settled; and 4.5 percent were decided by alternative dispute mechanism. Of all trial cases, the defendant physician prevailed in 90 percent. The median indemnity payments among paid claims were $200,000 for settled claims and $375,000 for tried claims. The average defense cost per claim was $40,649. The report’s conclusions are based on a final sample size of 5,825 nonfederal patient care physicians who had completed graduate medical education and worked at least 20 hours in their most recent week of practice.

DOJ charges 94 with fraud
Modern Healthcare
reported that federal authorities have charged 94 defendants as part of a sweeping healthcare fraud investigation. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), federal agents have arrested at least 36 alleged participants in schemes involving more than $250 million in fraudulent claims. The range of allegations include kickbacks to beneficiaries for use of Medicare numbers and false claims for home health care, physical therapy, and durable medical equipment.

Advanced e-Rx features often unused or unavailable
According to an issue brief released by the Center for Studying Health System Change, less than 60 percent of physicians who had e-prescribing (e-Rx) capability had access to three advanced features included as part of Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs. Of those physicians with e-Rx capabilities, 64.5 percent routinely used the software to identify potential drug interactions, 53.7 percent routinely transmitted prescriptions to pharmacies, and 34.3 percent routinely obtained formulary information.

New superbug gene
The Laucet
online reports on a new gene that can increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Bacteria containing the gene, New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase 1 (NDM-1), have been identified in 37 people who returned to the United Kingdom after undergoing surgery in India or Pakistan. The gene was most commonly found among Escherichia coli (n=36) and Klebsiella pneumoniae (n=111), which were highly resistant to all antibiotics except to tigecycline and colistin.