February 2011

Illustration by David Cutler

How many are too many for CT scans?

As many as one-third of the 70 million imaging tests ordered during the year may not be needed. Experts attempt to determine whether repeated radiation scanning doses could prove potentially yet unintentionally harmful.

Lack of kidneys for transplant raises debates

A shortage of transplantable organs has led to previously unthought-of issues that entangle ethics, policy, costs and clinical complications. Internists now must consider transplant tourists, long waits and “donation chains” as factors in their patient counseling.

Years after leaving practice, some doctors choose to return

Physicians sometimes take up the stethoscope again, years or even decades after having involved themselves in other personal or professional pursuits. Programs exist to draw these doctors back into clinical practice, where they are needed.

Can the electronic medical record contain an entire genome?

Genetic records create data by the petabyte. That's a number with 15 zeros trailing along. That's 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. That's a lot of data for primary care physicians to manage as genetic tests become more common.

Report on nurses' scope of practice requires clarification

An Institute of Medicine report comes at a transformational time for health care in America. How this report changes scope of practice issues and nurses' interactions with physicians will affect the team-based approach sought from new health care models.

Reining in the use of CT scans

CT scans have become much more common in the U.S. over the past few decades, increasing from 3 million in 1980 to almost 70 million in 2007.

Letters to the Editor

Readers respond about team care.

History will judge outgoing Congress' impact on health reform

One would have to go back more than 45 years to find a Congress that has had as big an impact on health care as the just-departed 111th Congress.

Cut costs without cutting corners to keep the office efficient

Today's health care environment demands that physicians wring every last drop of efficiency from their practices. Here's five easy ways to accomplish that.

E-prescribing incentives change to penalties on June 30

What had been incentives until now to electronically prescribe drugs will become penalties very soon. ACP's practice management staff outline what physicians must do today to avoid a 1.5% penalty on all Medicare allowed charges.

New year brings big, small changes to practice administration

Three federal regulations create new opportunities and hurdles for physicians, including new reimbursements, Medicare annual wellness visits and a potential uptick in office visits to document over-the-counter drugs for health plans.

The e-prescribing paradox

Practices need to have an e-prescribing system up and running by the end of May. Learn how to qualify by using the G8553 code at least 10 times by then.

MKSAP Quiz: Increasing headache and red eye

A 64-year-old man is evaluated for a new right-sided headache that began 1 day ago. He awoke yesterday with a dull ache over his right forehead that has gradually increased in intensity. He also notes some right eye discomfort, sensitivity to light, and that his eye is red. What is the most likely diagnosis?.