Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Not Ready for the Upcoming ICD-10?

By: Letitia G. Ash, President Medcorp
It has been estimated that coders will need to focus 16 hours of training and another 10 hours on practice implementations in order to be able to code in the coming ICD-10 format.

So if you haven’t started preparing for ICD-10 and you don’t have the time to obtain training for your staff in the next 30 days, it may be a good idea to consider the option to outsource your billing to a company that’s prepared to handle the anticipated 55,000 new codes. 

It’s important to make sure you choose a billing company with the certification and knowledge of practice management billing, along with ICD-10 procifiency.

Why Outsource Your Billing?

If the billing is handled in-house, then the cost of keeping those employees on staff such as salaries, benefits and other expenses is more likely higher than the cost of paying a billing service company. Making the switch could be money well spent.

There are several questions to consider when deciding on whether or not to outsource:

What financial benefits is the practice currently getting that it likely wouldn't get with a third-party biller?

What benefits does the billing partner offer that the in-house staff cannot?

How will your practice pay a billing service, and what hidden expenses could go up over time (such as postage or processing fees)?

Remember to consider all of these questions. In addition, many billing service companies are paid a percentage of collections, so you must keep that in mind as your practice grows so will the cost of the billing company’s services.

Some physicians go into private practice because they want to be in control of everything. Others simply want to provide patient care. The daily financial tasks are a distraction for them. Keeping all aspects of the business in-house gives practice owners the ability to oversee operations on a daily basis. When it comes to the practice's finances, some physicians may not be comfortable with giving up that control, while others would gladly hand it over.

In recent years it has become much harder to handle a practice's billing due to new government regulations, payer practices, and, soon, the upcoming conversion to ICD-10. A practice needs to assess how ready the staff members are to handle all of these changes. If they aren't ready, does the practice management have the time and ability to bring their staff up to speed?

Letitia G. Ash, President of MedCorp/MASH Computer Care & Consulting,LLC can be reached at or 256-547-4425.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Focus on the First Five Years _Four Key Connections to Foster Your Child’s Development

By: Margaret O’Bryant

Business leaders, activists and even President Obama have recently brought increased attention to the importance of early childhood education and child care programs. This groundswell around the development in a child’s first five years of life has left parents wondering what the excitement is about.

Dr. Laura Jana, a pediatrician, author and member of the Primrose Schools Education Advisory Board, is a child development expert who believes in the importance of early childhood education. She employs four key connections to help explain why the first five years are critical for child development, offering tips to parents, care givers and early educators alike.

Connecting the Neurons. Babies are born with more than 100 billion nerve cells in their brains. These neurons must connect and communicate with each other in order to form the circuits needed to think, learn, and succeed – something neurons do at the remarkable rate of 700 connections per second in the first five years of life. In fact, peak development of sensory pathways, such as hearing, vision and language pathways occurs during the first six months of life.

Making Connections with Caring, Responsive Adults. The everyday back-and-forth interactions adults have with babies – from babbling to singing, cooing and other responsive gestures – stand to shape brain development far more than parents and caregivers may have previously realized. Research from The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University reveals that a strong relationship between a caring responsive adult and a child is so powerful, it can literally serve as a protective buffer against the potentially neurotoxic effects of stress and adversity on the developing brain.

Connecting Language and Literacy Skills with Future Life Success. Reading and talking to young children is fundamentally important to their development. Betty Hart and Todd Risley, child psychologists at the University of Kansas and authors of Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, examined language development and the effects of home experiences on young children in their landmark 1995 study. They found that children roughly began talking at the same age, but the level to which parents spoke to them – both frequency and quality of words spoken – had significant implications not only on their vocabularies by age 3, but additionally on their IQ, literacy skills and future academic success.

Recognizing the Connection Between Early Skills and Workforce Development. All parents strive to raise happy, healthy and productive children, but new research is changing what we consider to be the skills necessary for success in the 21st century. Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed offers an insightful overview of an evolving educational paradigm shift. Instead of the more purely cognitive focus of decades past, parents, caregivers and early educators dedicated to raising children for success are now focusing on character traits, such as grit, perseverance and leadership skills; all of which can be fostered in early childhood, and are proving to be better predictors for success than IQ scores or standardized tests.

Parents, caregivers and early educators all play pivotal roles in the first five years of a child’s life. Understanding the rapid development that takes place during this critical stage of life and fostering these connections and skills will help shape the next generation of leaders.

Primrose Schools is a national family of accredited, early education and care schools serving children, parents and local communities with a purposeful, balanced approach to nurturing Active Minds, Healthy Bodies and Happy Hearts®. To learn about Primrose School at Liberty Park, visit www. or call [205-969-8202]. For more parenting tips, visit our 360 Parenting blog at

Margaret O’Bryant

Franchise Owner, Primrose School at Liberty Park


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Quit Now Alabama: a free, statewide tobacco cessation resource

By: Alabama Department of Public Health

Overview of Services

Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and Alabama. Approximately 8,600 Alabamians die each year as a result of their own tobacco use and nearly 300,000 children are exposed to secondhand smoke. The Alabama Tobacco Quitline (Quit Now Alabama) was established by the Alabama Department of Public Health in 2005 to help combat this serious issue. Quit Now Alabama is a free telephone and online tobacco cessation program available to any tobacco user in the state. To date, more than 150,000 calls have been received and thousands of Alabamians have been helped to quit and stay quit. As providers, it is important to know recent changes to the program. Referrals may be made by fax and web-based referral and Medicaid now covers seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications to all Medicaid recipients. Read below to learn how to refer your patients.

Quit Now Alabama services can be accessed by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visiting ,and are provided by National Jewish Health (NJH), the leading respiratory hospital and the largest nonprofit provider of tobacco cessation services in the United States. Services are available seven days a week between 6 a.m. and midnight and include the following:

• Tobacco cessation coaching programs

• *Eight-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy patches, if enrolled in coaching and medically eligible (*while supplies last)

• E-mail, text messaging, and mobile apps

• Printed support materials

• Web-based and fax referral program for healthcare providers

Tobacco Cessation Coaching Program

Coaching services are offered to all tobacco users accessing the quitline for support throughout the process of quitting. Five proactive, outbound coaching calls are offered to tobacco users and are provided by coaches with extensive training in tobacco cessation. Coaches use protocols developed from evidence-based theoretical foundations including Motivational Interviewing, Social Cognitive Theory, Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change, Cognitive-Behavioral Theory, Goal Setting Theory and Relapse Prevention Theory. Coaching calls are individualized to tobacco users’ situations and motivational levels ensuring a flexible and positive treatment experience.

Special protocols are in place for pregnant/post-partum women and American Indians. The Pregnancy/Post-Partum cessation program offers a dedicated coach, additional coaching calls and tailored text and email messages to enhance engagement in the program. The American Indian (AI) cessation program is staffed by AI coaches and uses protocols to provide more culturally sensitive services.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Research has indicated that the combination of cessation coaching and medications is more effective than either intervention alone. Therefore, Quit Now Alabama began a nicotine replacement therapy program in 2006 to offer additional cessation assistance to tobacco users in Alabama. Quit Now Alabama offers free nicotine transdermal patches to all *eligible callers who are enrolled in coaching and medically eligible. To determine medical eligibility, all tobacco users undergo a medical screening during the initial call and a physician consent form is faxed, emailed, or mailed to tobacco users’ physicians if any of the following conditions are reported:

• Recent heart attack

• Recent stroke

• Uncontrolled high blood pressure

• Pregnant or Breastfeeding

Patches are sent in two-week increments and shipped directly to eligible tobacco users’ homes to lower barriers to their quit attempts. Quit Now Alabama currently provides up to **eight weeks of patches to eligible callers, and continued participation in coaching is required to receive patch shipments.

*Tobacco users with Medicaid do not receive NRT from Quit Now Alabama (see below for Medicaid benefits)
**The amount of NRT offered is contingent upon funding availability and changes as needed.

Healthcare Provider Referral Program

Healthcare providers may refer patients directly to Quit Now Alabama by completing a fax or web-based referral form. Quit Now Alabama attempts contact with referred patients within 24 hours of receiving the referral. By referring patients directly, Quit Now Alabama will also provide up to five progress reports regarding patients’ activity with the program.

Quit Now Alabama understands that the capability for eReferral programs through electronic health records (EHR) is the future. NJH is an industry leader in eReferral capabilities for tobacco cessation and is seeking partners in Alabama to implement a fully integrated, bi-directional eReferral program. Once implemented, the Quit Now Alabama eReferral program will reduce the time required to produce referrals and incorporate progress reports into a patient’s EHR, help demonstrate Meaningful Use, and increase the number of tobacco users referred to evidence-based tobacco cessation treatment programs.

Medicaid Smoking Cessation Benefits

The Alabama Medicaid Agency expanded the coverage of seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications to all Medicaid recipients on January 1, 2014. These medications are available to Plan First recipients and pregnant tobacco users without prior authorization. All other Medicaid recipients require prior authorization and referral to Quit Now Alabama.

Prior Authorization Form 470 and the Quit Now Alabama referral form must be completed and faxed (1-800-748-0116) or mailed to Health Information Design. The Quit Now Alabama referral form must also be faxed to NJH at 1-800-261-6259. Prior authorizations are processed as soon as possible, and patients should be able to pick up cessation products from their pharmacy within one business day. Quit Now Alabama will attempt contact with the referred patient within 24 hours of receiving the referral.

Additional benefits are also available for Medicaid-eligible pregnant women. The Alabama Medicaid Agency will reimburse for up to four face-to-face counseling sessions in a 12-month period. The reimbursement period begins in the prenatal period and continues through the post-partum period (60 days after delivery or pregnancy end). Documentation must support each counseling sessions. The Alabama Medicaid policy for this benefit can be accessed here.

As described above, tobacco cessation services and benefits are readily available to all tobacco users in Alabama. Quit Now Alabama encourages all healthcare providers to ask patients about tobacco use, advise tobacco users to quit, refer patients to cessation programs as needed and prescribe cessation medications when appropriate. These steps will ensure that the negative impacts of tobacco use in Alabama will decrease over time.

For more information about Quit Now Alabama or materials for your practice, contact the Alabama Department of Public Health at 334-206-3830.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Digging into the Facts on Sunscreen

By: Gregory Bourgeois, MD
Shelby Dermatology, PC

What is the point of sunscreen? It is to help prevent the public health problem that is skin cancer. Recently, the US Surgeon General had a Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer to put skin cancer on the radar of millions of Americans. There are nearly four million melanomas, basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and other skin cancers – all linked to ultraviolet radiation damage – diagnosed annually. We can do a better job of prevention, yet many Americans are not using sunscreen regularly.

Could it be that we don’t trust sunscreen? We have all had the experience of putting on sunscreen, yet still experiencing a burn or a tan. Maybe we didn’t put on enough. Maybe the sunscreen had expired. Maybe we forgot to reapply. Maybe we really just wanted to tan and didn’t care about whether the sunscreen worked; we just knew we needed to put some on because that’s “what you do.” Since recent consumer studies in Consumer Reports and similar consumer organizations in Europe show that labeled SPF may not be accurate (by their own testing, not by FDA tests), maybe we doubt sunscreen altogether.

I want to shed some light on the development of sunscreen and its inherent strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, this helps build confidence in sun protection using sunscreen yet serves as a warning that sunscreen can only do so much.

A sunscreen should really be considered a “UV-screen” because this is the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that it blocks. UVA and UVB rays are the most common damaging electromagnetic radiation in terms of causing skin cancer. UVA rays tend to cause a persistent pigment darkening of the skin that one notices within 24 hours of exposure; this is why tanning beds use UVA lamps so that tanning is seen soon after a session. UVB rays tend to cause sunburn which usually occurs about six hours or more after exposure. There is some overlap between the two sets of radiation, and they both lead to what is the desired look of many beachgoers – the delayed tan, which is persistent skin darkening for weeks.

A tan is the result of your body’s imperfect attempt to protect itself from the UV damage it already received by increasing the amount of pigment (specifically melanin) to act as a UV cover at the cellular level. Sunscreen does not protect against the reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are formed by UV radiation. It can prevent their formation by blocking the UV radiation to some extent, but once ROS are formed, sunscreen is helpless and an antioxidant is needed to stop their havoc.

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent sunburn, so it is mainly a measure of how well it blocks UVB radiation. When testing sunscreen, a paid volunteer has two mg/cm2 of sunscreen evenly applied to test sites and then is exposed to various doses from a high intensity solar simulator (which has all the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation emitted by sunlight). A minimal erythema dose (MED) is the smallest UV dose needed to produce perceptible redness in the skin 16to 24 hours after exposure. The SPF is the ratio of the MED’s of sunscreen-treated skin to untreated skin. UVA protection does not have a quantifiable number similar to SPF in the US. Here, it is measured with in-vitro critical wavelength testing (mandated by the FDA to be considered broad-spectrum) that measures the amount of UV radiation transmitted through transparent plastic smeared with the test sunscreen. A critical wavelength is the wavelength of radiation measured in nanometers (nm) where a sunscreen absorbs 90 percent of the UV radiation transmitted through it. Since the UVB-UVA spectrum is 290 to 400 nm on the electromagnetic spectrum, a critical wavelength that is at least 370 nm is considered a broad spectrum sunscreen.

Sunscreen is made of organic and inorganic ultraviolet filters. The organic filters are aromatic chemical compounds that work by absorbing UV photons. The inorganic filters are minerals zinc and titanium that also work by absorbing UV photons as well as scattering them. Each have their own absorption spectra within the UV range with some protecting very well against UVA while most protect very well against UVB. Some absorb UV photons better than other filters while some filters are more photostable (the ablilty to withstand the onslaught of UV radiation).

Because of these various properties, sunscreen is often of mix of organic and inorganic filters in order to gain the most UV protection while remaining stable out in the sunlight and maintaining safe concentrations of each filter. An ideal sunscreen forms a film on the skin that uniformly distributes the ingredients, so certain emollients and other photostabilizing boosters are included to help with UV protection as well as enhance the proper application of the product. In the US we are limited by the amount of broad spectrum ingredients, particularly those that block UVA radiation. This is due to the FDA regulation of sunscreen as OTC drugs, and the application process is arduous for new products to be introduced to market. Since 1999 there has only been one new approved UVA blocking ingredient. I will avoid discussing the politics of the situation, but hopefully, this area of regulation will improve as the FDA standstill on sunscreen has been exposed recently and ostensible Congressional action has been taken.

Remember that sunscreen is only part of a complete photoprotection package that also includes clothing, wide-brimmed hats, shade, avoiding peak hours of sunlight, and sunglasses. Most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen (it has been shown we get about 1/3 of the labeled SPF based on our typical application) and don’t reapply every two hours as we should, or after being submerged in water for a while. If you towel off after getting out of the water, you are wiping your sunscreen off, so reapply. When it comes to recommending sunscreen for your patients, tell them to choose an SPF 30 or greater and one labeled broad-spectrum. Most of all, use common sense and enjoy the sun responsibly.

Does Your Practice Have Company Email?

By: Curtis Woods C.O.O. & Jeremy Beck Director of Sales and Business Development at Integrated Solutions LLC

Does your practice have company email or does it depend on employees using their personal email accounts for business purposes? While we believe everyone needs a personal email account, we also believe that businesses need company email for their employees and that the two should mix as infrequently as possible. Here are a few reasons why we believe company email is a better solution than allowing employees to use personal email accounts for business purposes:

1.Company email can help avoid HIPAA issues

“Free” public email (Yahoo, Gmail, Live, etc.) is not securely encrypted. These emails can easily be captured in transit and read. “Company” or paid email systems allow email to be encrypted as long as the receiver has a “Transport Layer Security” or TLS compliant email system. When this is in place, the emails you send and receive from them and to them are encrypted and cannot be read while in transit. Paid email systems can also have secure email gateways implanted which will allow all outbound email from your company to be encrypted.

2. Company email looks more professional

Simply stated, getting an email from or typically doesn’t portray the image that most companies are looking for. In most situations, this gives your clients the idea that your office didn’t want to spend the money to have their own email system, or simply that your office doesn’t know the benefits and security advantages of company email. Either way, if you were a patient would you really want to send a personal medical question or a question about a financial statement to a person whose email account is obviously their own personal account and could possibly be accessed and read by their children, spouse, and/or friends. It is also possible that this person will not even be at the same job six months from now, but they will still have your medical information!

3. Company email allows you more control

Quick question #1…..Are your employees stealing proprietary information or sending inappropriate emails under the guise of business emails? If they use private email then you will never know. As an employer you have the right to monitor employee emails on your company’s email system. While employees do have some rights as well under the National Labor Relations Act these rights do not include stealing company information or sending inappropriate emails.

Quick question #2……The last employee that left your office, did they have company emails continuing to come through after they were terminated? Did they take with them any patient sensitive information that had been emailed to them previously? The answer is that if they were on their private emails then you will never know. Company email systems allow you to forward email accounts to administrators so that they can monitor emails after an employee leaves or is terminated. This allows important business not to “fall through the cracks” and ensures that their previous dealings with clients can continue in a professional and timely manner.

4. Company email allows for greater usability and service

Most company emails have a better user experience overall. The email options are more user friendly with better interfaces, search capabilities, calendar synchronization, and larger size limits; not to mention better in-office product integration with your email system. The overall service is also typically better with company email because when there is a problem there is no question about who to call for service. Most free and public email systems have almost no support that can be reached by phone which can cause a headache when it comes to service and support.

If you are allowing each employee to use their own public email account for business purposes you might want to reconsider. There are many good company email systems such as Microsoft Exchange, Google Business Apps and many others. In most situations, these systems can be put into place for a very reasonable cost and offer great advantages over the alternatives. If you are struggling with this decision, talk with your local IT company about your options in this area, you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

CMS Issues Proposed Stark Law Modifications Including Clarifications, Among Others, Regarding Timeshare Arrangements and Physician Extender Recruitment

By: Kristen A. Larremore
Partner at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP

On July 8, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) published the draft update to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2016 in a proposed rule that included, among other things, Stark law (“Stark”) regulatory updates to account for advancements in patient care and payment methodologies as well as health care reform changes generally (the “Proposed Rule”). Stark generally prohibits physicians from making referrals for services covered by government programs to entities in which they have financial interests unless they meet certain exceptions. The Proposed Rule appears to be generally designed to ease the burden of technical compliance with Stark and thereby an attempt to reduce the number of self-disclosures that are required to be reported to CMS.

New Stark Exceptions

In addition to a number of other technical documentation changes discussed below, the Proposed Rule features two new exceptions to Stark, including allowing payments to physicians to assist with the recruitment and employment of non-physician practitioners. The proposed exception, designed to address shortages of primary-care physicians, applies to hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). The second new exception will explicitly permit, and provide a separate exception from the Rental of Office Space Exception, for timeshare arrangements established for the use of office space, equipment, personnel, supplies and other services. Such timeshare arrangements generally are common in the health care sphere, and particularly in rural areas. It appears that CMS is attempting to clarify and refine the requirements for such arrangements through the Proposed Rule’s new exception specifically addressing such arrangements.

Technical Documentation Requirements

The Proposed Rule also addresses certain technical documentation requirements currently existing under Stark, and relaxes a number of those requirements in various ways. For example,

• CMS proposes clarification that there is no requirement that a lease or personal services arrangement be documented in a single, formal contract and that a collection of documents may satisfy the “writing requirement” arising under several currently existing Stark exceptions.

• The Proposed Rule indicates that the “one-year term requirement” for certain arrangements under certain existing Stark exceptions will not require an explicit “term” provision to satisfy the requirement as long as the arrangement, as a matter of fact, lasts for at least one year.

• CMS also provides clarification that expired leasing and personal service agreements may continue after the termination date, as long as they do so on the same terms.

• CMS proposes an amendment to the existing rule regarding temporary noncompliance with “signature requirements” to permit up to 90 days to obtain all required signatures, regardless of whether the late signature is advertent or inadvertent.

• A number of Stark exceptions currently permit a “holdover” arrangement for up to six months. CMS proposes an amendment to these holdover provisions to permit either indefinite holdovers or holdover extensions for longer, defined time periods, provided that certain safeguards are met.

Other Proposals

Additionally, the Proposed Rule includes a proposed modification related to physician-owned hospitals. While the Affordable Care Act has already included a limitation on the maximum percentage ownership that physicians may hold in a physician-owned hospital, the proposed regulatory changes clarify that the maximum percentage must be calculated by including all physician owners, regardless of whether they refer to the hospital or not. This change could require certain physician-owned hospitals to reduce some of its physician ownership in order to comply.

Clarification is also provided in the Proposed Rule to address and clarify that compensation paid to a physician organization must take into account referrals of any physician in the organization, not just those who “stand in the shoes” of the organization (a concept relevant to determining compliance with certain existing Stark exceptions). Typically only physician owners and physicians who volunteer to stand in the shoes are deemed to be parties to an arrangement, but the Proposed Rule would deem all physicians to be parties to the arrangement, including employee, non-owner physicians and independent contractors.

Several other proposals address changes related to retention of payments in underserved areas, the geographic area served by FQHCs and RHCs, and expansion of the definition of remuneration, among other clarifications.

A copy of the full text of the Proposed Rule as published in the Federal Register is available at:

The clarifications and modifications to Stark under the Proposed Rule are currently only CMS recommendations, and comments on the Proposed Rule will be accepted by CMS until September 8, 2015, with the final rule to be issued by November 1st.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Social Security Snapshot

By: Jeris Gason is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor®. with Bridgeworth, LLC

Social security benefits are an important piece of the financial planning picture and are frequently a hot topic around many an office water cooler, but it’s important to understand the ins and outs of this retirement income benefit and how it fits into your overall financial plan. More important than when you take social security is how you take it, so let’s discuss a few non-traditional social security benefit options available.

  • The “Phase-In” Strategy: This strategy works between spouses and is used most often when there is an income gap between the two. The lower earning spouse may begin taking their reduced benefit at age 62, while the higher earning spouse restricts their application and collects a spousal benefit only at their full retirement age. This allows the higher earning spouse to delay their benefit until age 70 in order to receive the 8% delayed retirement credit up to four years.

• The “File & Suspend” Strategy: This strategy allows for benefits at full retirement age with the opportunity for those benefits to grow over time. This works when the higher earning spouse files for benefits and suspends receipt of said benefits until age 70. By doing this, the lower-earning spouse is eligible to receive a spousal benefit. At age 70, the higher earning spouse collects their own benefit which has benefited from the 8% delayed retirement credit for up to four years.

• If you are widowed, there are different rules for social security. You can collect survivor benefits at age 60 (age 50 if disabled). These benefits are based on your age and your deceased spouses’ social security benefit. If you remarry after you reach age 60, your new married will not affect your ability for survivors’ benefits. If your own benefits are higher, you can switch to those as early as age 62.

• Divorce & Remarriage: If your marriage lasted for ten or more years, you are eligible for spousal or survivorship benefits. If you begin receiving benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record, it does not reduce their personal benefits or the benefits of his/her new spouse if he/she remarried. If you remarry, you forfeit the Social Security benefits on your prior spouse. There are a few exceptions here, but the main idea is that you cannot claim benefits on two spouses at the same time.

For more about financial planning, the strategies above, or to learn about more options when it comes to claiming your Social Security Benefits, contact Jeris Gaston, at .

Jeris Gason is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor®. She has been advising clients since 2007 in the areas of wealth accumulation, retirement planning, education planning, investment management, and comprehensive financial planning.

Bridgeworth, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor.

This commentary is provided for information purposes only and does not pertain to any security product or service and is not an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any product or service. Investors should consult their Financial and/or Tax Advisor before making any investment decision.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


By: Alisha Thompson Congress, DO - Family Medicine -  (Medical West UAB)

School is out and it’s officially SUMMERTIME! Bring on the fun in the sun but let’s make sure to remain SAFE while doing so. Summertime means more time outside whether it is relaxing at the beach or lake or simply riding bikes and exploring the great outdoors. In Alabama, we are blessed with beautiful scenery and plenty of SUNSHINE but we must take precaution as too much of anything can be a bad thing. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we have fun but stay safe this summer:

Sun Protection

•Minimize sun exposure during peak sun hours (10 AM – 6 PM).

•Wear protective clothing and a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses (with 99-100% UV protection).

•Sunscreen is a must (on sunny and cloudy days)! Look for products with UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15 (according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Association of Dermatology).

•Sunscreen should be applied about 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapplied every two hours or sooner if swimming, sweating.

Water Safety

•Tragically though, over 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools each year. Adult supervision is of utmost importance, be mindful of distractions!

•Practice “touch supervision” (a term used by the American Academy of Pediatrics). This means that at all times, the supervising adult is within an arm’s length of the child being watched, when near or in the water.

•Remember, no child or adult is “drown proof.”

•Keep in mind that children can drown in many different water sources including: bathtubs, toilets, buckets, baby pools, backyard swimming pools, community pools, streams, creeks, lakes, rivers, oceans and other places.

•Establish and enforce rules and safe behaviors, such as “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” “swim with a buddy” and “walk please.”

•Ensure all family member knows how to respond to water emergencies

•Secure your pool- surround completely with a minimum 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool.

Dehydration and Heat-Related Illnesses

•Keeping well hydrated is very important.

•Children (and adults) must remember to drink.

•Do not wait until a child says he is thirsty before offering fluids. At this point, he is already dehydrated, so be sure to provide plenty of fluids before going outside, while out in the heat and afterwards.

•Playing in the hot summer sun means lots of fluid losses, so avoid strenuous activity during peak sun hours (10 am- 6 pm). Look for shade and take lots of breaks.

•Seek medical attention immediately for any signs of heat-related illness.

Summer First Aid Kit

•Every family should have at least one first aid kit at home which is well stocked and readily accessible.

•It’s also helpful to keep a first aid kit in the car and one take on trips.

•Kids get lots of cuts and scrapes during the warm summer months, so it’s nice to be prepared.

•Don’t forget to restock the kit once an item has been used.

•Be sure to keep a list of emergency numbers where they are easy to find. This list should include: emergency medical services (911), the doctor’s number, the dentist’s number, poison control, a number where mom and/or dad can be reached and any other important phone numbers.

Now let’s enjoy some fun in the sun ☺ ~Dr. Congress