Liked, loved, shared: What got physicians talking this year

Gun violence. The fight for gender equity. Physician burnout. Heartbreak at the border. These are among the issues that got people talking and sharing on social media in 2018. In a timely way, the AMA set forth physicians’ views, tools and resources on these and other hot-button topics. Learn about the big moments that struck a chord with patients and physicians on social media.

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Talking firearms in the exam room: 3 cases where it matters

James, an Army veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder, presents at your practice. Previously, he has revealed to you that he occasionally has suicidal thoughts. Knowing that firearms are among the most lethal suicide-attempt methods, should you bring up the potentially touchy topic of whether has access to a gun?

If you’re like most American physicians, you haven’t had much training on how to effectively address firearm safety with a patient like James. His case is one of three high-risk scenarios in which physicians can help reduce their patients risk of firearm injury death that are highlighted in a CME module available from in the AMA Ed Hub.

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Controversial ACA ruling: 4 things physicians should know

In the days since a federal judge’s ruling striking down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, there has been a flood of punditry on the merits of the decision and its potential impact. While that makes fun reading for some, for others without law degrees it can be a bit overwhelming. So here are four key things that practicing physicians should understand and share with patients who ask.

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What your patients must know about direct-to-consumer lab tests

More than 12 million people have had their DNA analyzed with direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy tests, according to estimates from the industry, with use of tests from companies such as AncestryDNA doubling in 2017. These and other DTC laboratory tests—often conducted without the involvement of a physician, with results reported directly to the patient—may lead patients to potentially harmful misunderstandings.

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How physicians should approach hard calls involving child patients

Some of the most difficult medical decisions involve pediatric patients who may be unable to have a say in their own care. The AMA House of Delegates has adopted new ethical guidance for physicians to help parents and their children.

In its report presented at the 2018 AMA Interim Meeting, the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs lays out some questions for parents and physicians to consider.

Those considerations include: overall goals for care, what the child’s likely developmental course will be with and without immediate intervention, and whether interventions can reasonably be staged developmentally to allow the patient and family time to gain experience in living with a condition that is not immediately life-threatening.

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10 ways the new opioids bill could help address the epidemic

Congress has sent to the president’s desk a massive bipartisan bill that aims to take on the opioid epidemic that kills about 130 Americans daily, according to the latest provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The bill—the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act—was passed with sweeping majorities of 393–8 in the House and 98–1 in the Senate. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

The legislation touches on almost every aspect of the epidemic. It includes numerous provisions, supported by the AMA, that will expand access to substance-use disorder (SUD) prevention and treatment programs. The AMA strongly urges removing all barriers to treatment for SUD.

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5 reasons to read the surgeon general’s opioid epidemic report

Whether you are a medical student, resident, academic or physician in clinical practice, time is precious. That is part of the reason why U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD—an AMA member—has provided a brief, 40-page report that puts a spotlight on the opioid epidemic and what the nation must do to end it.

Here are five things that physicians and other health professionals should know about Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Spotlight on Opioids and why it is a must-read.

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Avoid these missteps to slash your medical coding audit risk

Whether you are dealing with a commercial payer, Medicare, or Medicaid, there are certain types of improper claims that should be avoided if you want to reduce your risk of a medical coding audit. That bit of wisdom comes from an entity that ought to know: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The OIG has released a roadmap to help new physicians avoid medical billing fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. But this advice also broadly applies to how you approach reimbursement from commercial payers, and can also serve as a helpful reminder for physicians with years of experience in practice.

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HHS should withdraw proposed family-planning gag rule

The AMA is urging Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar II to withdraw a proposed rule that that would significantly revise the regulations governing the federal Title X family planning program.

“We are very concerned that the proposed changes, if implemented, would undermine patients’ access to high-quality medical care and information, dangerously interfere with the patient-physician relationship and conflict with physicians’ ethical obligations, exclude qualified providers and jeopardize public health,”  AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD, wrote in a letter to Azar.

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DOJ should block CVS-Aetna merger: Calif. insurance regulator

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has concluded that the proposed merger of CVS and insurance giant Aetna would have major anticompetitive effects and should be blocked. Following a recent public hearing featuring testimony from many experts, including the AMA, Jones is formally asking the U.S. Department of Justice to sue to block the proposed merger.

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