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Sidney Welch

Healthcare attorney, Sidney Welch


We sat down with legal expert on healthcare matters, attorney, Sidney Welch, of the Polsinelli law firm on our monthly episode with Medical Association of Georgia.  What is it?  How is it utilized?  And, what are the licensing, regulatory, and legal concerns around it?

Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB) has stressed that it is essential for telemedicine patients in the state to receive the same high standard of care they would in a traditional office setting.  GCMB adopted a number of telemedicine rules in 2014 that “allow the Composite Board to take disciplinary action against licensed physicians and allied health professionals who practice telemedicine if they do not provide the minimum standard of care.”

Georgia’s rules require physicians and other allied health care professionals who deliver care by way of telemedicine to…

  • Be the ones who provide all of the treatment and/or consultations via telehealth.
  • Have access to the patient’s medical history if they are providing the services.
  • Have personally seen and examined the patient if they are referring the patient to a telehealth provider.
  • Maintain records on the patient’s evaluation and treatment if they are providing a service via telehealth and to provide a copy of those records to the referring physician.
  • Provide telehealth services only within their specialty.
  • Give their name, credentials and emergency contact information to the patient when they provide a telehealth treatment or consultation.
  • Provide the patient with “clear, appropriate, accurate instructions” on follow-up care.

Controlled substances for pain or chronic pain treatment cannot be prescribed through telehealth – but a physician or a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant can order appropriate labs or other diagnostic tests.

The physician who provides the care via telemedicine must make a “diligent” effort to ensure that the patient is seen and examined in person at least once a year by a Georgia-licensed physician or other appropriate health care professional.

Special Guest:

Sidney Welch, JD, of Polsinelli  linkedin_small1  twitter_logo_small-e1403698475314  facebook_logo_small3  

Sidney Welch

Apex Animal Hospital

Apex Animal Hospital

Apex Animal Hospital

On this episode I sat down with Dr. Kimberly Cary and her office manager, Jamie Cary.  We talked about their rapidly-growing Austell animal hospital that has seen rapid expansion of their patient base due to referrals from happy clients.

Kimberly explained there are numerous health issues that can be transmitted between humans and their pets or that both humans and our pets can suffer from that we can benefit from being aware about.  Examples are ringworm, Lyme disease, giardiasis, rabies, and others.

The Carys talked about measures we can take to reduce the risk of our pets contracting these illnesses as well as how we can limit the risk of being affected ourselves.  In many cases, simple preventive measures are very effective at protecting both pet and owner.  These include annual exams and keeping vaccinations up to date.

Problems related to tick- and flea-borne diseases can easily be prevented by a regular dose of topical or edible medications.  And in areas of high likelihood of ticks, there is a vaccination available for dogs to prevent Lyme disease.

The practice offers a full array of pet services and has been specially designed to accommodate both dogs and cats to minimize the stress they experience when they have to be seen or stay in the animal hospital.  The office is located on East-West Connector in Austell, GA near Floyd Road.

Special Guests:

Dr. Kimberly Carey, DVM of Apex Animal Hospital   google-plus-logo-red-265px  twitter_logo_small  facebook_logo_small3  

Apex Animal Hospital

  • Doctorate Veterinary Medicine (with honors), Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Values educating pet owners who are her clients to help them best care for their pets
  • President, Cobb County Veterinary Medical Association
  • Owner of 2 cats and a dog of her own

Dr. Priyah Rudolph

Dr. Priyah Rudolph

On this episode of Top Docs Radio I hosted Dr. Priyah Rudolph, medical oncologist with Georgia Cancer Specialists.  Dr. Rudolph practices in the Athens, GA office for the group and has expertise with several forms of cancer.  She shared her poignant story about how she came to choose oncology as her specialty of practice.

Dr. Rudolph described how several members of her family experienced cancer in their lives, including her mother.  In speaking with her it’s clear she has a very personal connection with patients she sees in her practice and clearly understands the stress and concern they feel.

For this conversation, we focused on breast cancer.  According to, in the US, roughly 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.  Nearly 300,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year.

Priya shared the importance self-breast exams, conducted at least monthly, paired with annual mammograms annually after the age of 40 or sooner if direct descendants of breast cancer patients.  Early detection helps give the patient more options for treatment, as well as the likelihood of successful treatment.

She talked about various treatments available and what to expect should the troubling news come that a finding is indeed cancer.  On a positive note, we talked about the fact that breast cancer is very survivable with today’s technology and medical advancements.

Special Guest:

Dr. Priyah Rudolph, MD, of Georgia Cancer Specialists  Pinterest-logo  facebook_logo_small3  instagram-logo-transparent-png-i11 (16x16)  linkedin_small1  youtube logo

Georgia Cancer Specialists

  • Doctor of Medicine, Coimbatore Medical College
  • Residency, Yale University School of Medicine
  • Fellowship, Yale University School of Medicine
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • American Society of Hematology
  • PhD in Physiology at The Ohio State University


Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Huff Powell & Bailey

Dan Huff talks medical malpractice

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

The phrase medical malpractice causes most people’s pulse to quicken. For a physician being named in a medical malpractice case is one of the worst events in their life. This week we discussed medical malpractice in Georgia and how physicians can avoid it.

For the past 23 years, Dan has specialized in representing physicians and hospitals in medical malpractice lawsuits.  As one of the founding partners in the Atlanta law firm of Huff, Powell & Bailey, LLC, he has represented defendants in more than 90 jury trials.

Dan has defended and successfully tried cases for every specialty of medicine and numerous hospitals throughout Georgia. His trial record would be a proud career for any defense lawyer and is remarkable because Dan has tried and won this many cases before turning 50.  Many of those cases have been against the best plaintiffs’ attorneys in the state. Dan is also a regular contributor to MAG’s quarterly Journal.

Huff shared what malpractice is, and why he chose this area of focus for his legal career.  He offered some advice on how healthcare practitioners can avoid a malpractice lawsuit.  We discussed his professional advice for how to handle conversations with patient and/or family after a sentinel event has occurred.  And we talked about how health professionals need to handle patient records and what to do if served with a lawsuit.

Dan explained how defendants in a suit should behave during the proceedings of the case to reduce the likelihood a jury will rule against them.

Special Guest:

Dan Huff, JD, and co-founder, Huff, Powell, and Bailey

Huff, Powell, & Bailey


Physicians Institute for Excellence in Medicine

Physicians' Institute for Excellence In Medicine   MAG LOGO

Physicians Institute for Excellence in Medicine

This week I sat down with Bob Addleman, EVP of the Physicians’ Institute for Excellence in Medicine.  We talked about how the organization, a subsidiary of Medical Association of Georgia, got its genesis.  Bob shared how his passion for process improvement and healthcare ultimately led to him suggesting the development of an organization focused on improving the work environment as well as patient safety/outcomes.

The Physicians’ Institute for Excellence in Medicine (a nonprofit subsidiary of the Medical Association of Georgia) is a national leader in developing and managing collaborative educational projects, with a focus on outcomes-based and performance improvement activities. To date, the Physicians’ Institute has developed and managed 31 distinct initiatives representing work with over 400 organizations and more than 8000 participants located in 25 states focusing on an array of clinical areas. The Physicians’ Institute also provides leadership training and Patient-Centered Medical Home consulting to healthcare providers and organizations.

Physicians’ Institute is working with Georgia Academy of Family Physicians’ “Patient-Centered Medical Home University” (PCMHU). Now in fourth year, PCMHU has assisted more than 40 Georgia primary care practices achieve recognition from the National Council for Quality Assurance as a patient-centered medical home. Addleton is lead faculty member and practice advisor.

In June, Physicians’ Institute plans to launch new service called “Leadership in Practice,” which will provide leadership training and team development activities to medical associations, health systems, and physician organizations. Model has been adopted by thousands of organizations internationally and has over a 20-year history of application and research behind its design. Gives participants 360 degree feedback about their leadership behaviors. Addleton is a certified administrator and coach.

Physicians’ Institute is known for its collaborative grants system. For example, it awarded $1.2 million in grants to primary care organizations in five states for an ambitious project that is aimed at improving the care of patients experiencing chronic pain. Final report will be available in near future.

Physicians’ Institute has also been national leader in the FDA-mandated effort to promote Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) education for extended-release and long acting opioids as a member of CO*RE (Collaboration for REMS Education). Has worked with 15 state medical societies, including MAG, through a grant that was awarded to the MAG Foundation. To date, more than 3,000 physicians have participated in these efforts.

Addleton is the vice president (and president-elect) of the leading international organization is this field – the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions (ACEHP). He will become ACEHP’s president in January 2016.

Special Guest:

Bob Addleton, EVP, Physicians’ Institute for Excellence in Medicine  linkedin_small1 twitter_logo_small-e1403698475314  facebook_logo_small3

Physicians' Institute for Excellence in Medicine

  • Doctorate in Educational Leadership, University of Alabama
  • Certified in Continuing Professional Development
  • Fellow and President-Elect, of the Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions
  • Certified as a Quality Team Facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt, and Lean Green Belt
  • Trainer for The Leadership Challenge©.
  • Faculty Member, Georgia Academy of Family Physicians’ “Patient Centered Medical Home University”, and is the Dean of the Georgia Physicians Leadership Academy.

Dr. Scott Kelly

Dr. Scott Kelly

Dr. Scott Kelly, author of “What I’ve Learned From You: Lessons of Life Taught to a Doctor By His Patients”

Dr. Scott Kelly

I sat down with practicing orthopedic physician and author of the book, “What I’ve Learned From You:  The Lessons Of Life Taught To A Doctor By His Patients“.  He shared the story of how this moving and inspirational book came together.  He described how the book was drawn from journaling he did during his medical training over the course of several years.

He has always had a passion for writing and uses the medium as a way to process things that are important to him or that make an impression on him in his daily life.  Dr. Kelly talked about how he was going through some things in the attic and came across the journal several years after putting it away and how emotional it was to go back and read his thoughts and experiences from that time in his life.

He thought the interesting experiences and life lessons he picked up through numerous patient encounters would be great for his children to hear about and decided to put it into book for basically for them.  He decided to submit the manuscript to publishers and was surprised by the enthusiastic positive response he received.

You’ll enjoy listening to him tell his story and you can readily hear how big of an impact those life experiences had on him that he carries with him today.  Check this great interview and learn more at his website.


Dr. Scott Kelly, MD, of Resurgens Spine Center  youtube logo  linkedin_small1  Pinterest-logo  twitter_logo_small-e1403698475314  facebook_logo_small3

Dr. Scott Kelly

Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists


Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists

This week I featured 3 of the physicians from Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists.  They are known for providing expert care for patients in need of reconstructive surgery after cancer treatment or trauma as well as for those who are seeking aesthetic procedures.

Dr. Donald Nunn is a triple-boarded surgeon and unique in the fact that he completed residencies and board certification in 3 specialties, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Ear, Nose, & Throat, and Plastic surgery.  He is able to bring this range of training and experience to bear for his patients who need facial surgery as well as the full scope of plastic surgery procedures.

Dr. Bahair Ghazi shared how he benefited from spending several months training in Belgiam, learning some subtle differences in approach that he’s able to apply in his work when it can enhance the final outcome of his surgeries.  It’s clear talking with Dr. Ghazi he is passionate about plastic surgery and how it can have such a positive impact on quality of life for the patients he sees.  He shared some great information on the tummy tuck and pandectomy procedures for patients who have lost significant amounts of weight or that are wanting to become more active but excess body fat inhibits doing so.

Dr. Susann Bedford talked about how she feels a special relationship with the women she’s treating with breast surgery, whether reconstructive after cancer treatment, or aesthetic for women wanting to change their look for improved body image.  She shared how she was able to spend time during her training with some of the world’s highly-regarded specialists in breast and plastic surgery, helping her provide some of the best techniques available to achieve the best aesthetic result possible for a given case.

Special Guests:

Dr. Donald Nunn, MD, of Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small-e1403698475314  linkedin_small1  youtube logo  Pinterest-logo  google-plus-logo-red-265px


  • Doctor of Dental Surgery, Medical College of Virginia
  • Residency, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, University of North Carolina
  • American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Doctor of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia
  • Residency, Neck and Head Surgery, Medical College of Virginia
  • Residency, Plastic Surgery, University of California
  • American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • American Board of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery

Dr. Bahair Ghazi, MD, of Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists  twitter_logo_small-e1403698475314  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1


  • Surgical Training

    Emory University Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
    Emory University General Surgery
    West Virginia University, M.D.

  • Externships

    Cosmetic Surgery Sint Martens Latem, Belgium
    Cosmetic & Breast Reconstruction Brussels, Belgium
    Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction Ghent, Belgium

  • Board Certifications

    American Board of Plastic Surgery
    American Board of Surgery

Dr. Susann Beford, MD, of Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1


  • Doctor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine
  • Residency, Plastic Surgery, Barnes-Jewish Hospital of Washington University Hospital
  • Fellowship, Breast & Aesthetic Surgery, Georgetown University
  • American Board of Surgery
  • American Board of Plastic Surgery



Cholesterol Isn’t The Bad Guy In Heart Disease

Cholesterol Isn’t The Bad Guy In Heart Disease

I recently read an article by a former heart surgeon that talked about the fact that cholesterol isn’t the bad guy in heart disease.  Instead, he argued that inflammation of the lining of the blood vessels caused by sugars and even the “healthy” oils we eat such as corn, canola (Omega-6 oils) is the real cause of what is still the #1 cause of death in America today.

I sat down with Dr. Ellie Campbell of Campbell Family Medicine in Cumming, GA to talk about the article and she was eager to discuss it.  She completely agrees with the premise of the article and shared how the ratio of Omega-3 oils  to Omega-6 oils has grown from ~1:1 or 1:2 to as much as 25:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3.

She also talked about the fact that higher levels of cholesterol in the blood don’t necessarily equate to plaque and heart disease/stroke.  It’s when cholesterol molecules are oxidized and corrupted by inflammatory substances we eat that they become “sticky” and attach to the irritated walls of the blood vessels.

Dr. Campbell shared numerous suggestions for basic changes we can make that will not only serve to reduce our risk for heart disease but in some cases can actually reverse damage already done.

I also brought back Leana Kart, a chiropractor whose practice, Northwest Chiropractic and a member of the Georgia Chiropractic Association to talk about the fact that May is National Posture Awareness Month.  She shared several tips on how to avoid “tech neck”, damage to the spine and neck caused by long periods of chin-down angles to look at a device in our lap.  She also talked about why good posture contributes to keeping us healthy.

Special Guests:

Special Guests:

Dr. Ellie Campbell, DO, Family Practice & Integrative Medicine at Campbell Family Medicine

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Campbell Family Medicine

  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Family Medicine Residency, Medical College of Georgia
  • Board Certified Family Medicine

Dr. Leana Kart, DC, of NW Chiropractic  linkedin_small1


  • Doctor of Chiropractic, Life University
  • Owner of NW Chiropractic for over 26 years
  • Board Member, Georgia Chiropractic Association


Chronic Lyme Disease

Chronic Lyme Disease

Chronic Lyme Disease

This week, on Dr. Andrew Pugliese’s monthly special edition of Top Docs Radio we talked about chronic lyme disease.  Also known as post-treatment lyme disease syndrome, this chronic, debilitating condition is frequently overlooked outside of the Northeast, where it’s known to be prevalent.

As we learned from David Baird, a patient experiencing chronic lyme disease, and Karen Huppert, the mother of a college-age student who dealt with the illness, its severe symptoms, and treatment for several years as well.  They both shared their poignant stories and described how they moved from specialist to specialist trying to find a diagnosis.  And they shared how they were told that, “Lyme disease doesn’t exist in Georgia,” leading to a significant delay in the diagnosis that allowed them to seek appropriate care.

David brought his wife, a local veterinarian, also talked about how comparatively easy it is to diagnose a canine, for whom there are straight-forward tests that identifies the infection, and treatment is also effective and readily available.  She talked about how frequently she treats pets for Lyme disease here in her local Atlanta office.

We strongly encourage patients to seek second opinions and to seek to learn all they can about their symptoms and diseases to facilitate timely treatment, which can affect outcomes.

I was also pleased to host Dr. Leanna Kart, DC, a chiropractor whose practice is located on Howell Mill Road in west Atlanta.  May is National Posture Awareness Month.  We talked about how technology has affected neck/back health through creating a tendency to sit with the head in a chin-down orientation for long periods of time.  This causes an increased strain on the connective tissues and muscles in the neck, which can lead to headaches, neck and back pain, and neurologic symptoms.

Special Guests:

Andrew Pugliese, MD, Infectious Disease Consultants twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3  Blogger 2  

Infectious Disease Consultants

  • Doctorate in Medicine, St. George University School of Medicine
  • Fellowship, Infectious Disease, Winthrop University Hospital
  • Triple Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease
  • Pioneer in non-surgical treatment of acute and chronic sinusitis
  • President of Sinus Solutions

David Baird, Chronic Lyme Disease Patient

Karen Huppert, Parent of a young Chronic Lyme Disease patient

Dr. Leanna Kart, DC, of NW Chiropractic  linkedin_small1


  • Doctor of Chiropractic, Life University
  • Owner of NW Chiropractic for over 26 years
  • Board Member, Georgia Chiropractic Association


Senate Bill 158

Medical Association of Georgia


Senate Bill 158

On this week’s show we continued our monthly series with the Medical Association of Georgia.  MAG’s CEO/Executive Director, Donald J. Palmisano, Jr. stopped by for a discussion on the state of Senate Bill 158, changes in the insurance contracting arena, and other topics on the MAG agenda.  Donald also shared how he and a colleague were able to raise over $40,000 to support the Think About It campaign to raise awareness and fight prescription drug abuse/addiction in Georgia, participating in a 100 mile race and completing it in under 24 hours.  In the days since Donald joined us on the show, Senate Bill 158 was passed.

MAG continues to take steps to enhance the relationship between health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Inc. (BCBSGa) and physicians in the state.

At the end of 2014, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens rescinded physician contract amendments that BCBSGa had put into place in Georgia following “numerous complaints from physicians (and their practices).”

First MAG/BCBSGa “Physician Advisory Group” meeting took place on February 12. It is forum for physicians to express their concerns, it will give Blue Cross the opportunity to disseminate information about new payer initiatives, it will be a venue for improving communications, and it will serve as a mechanism for physicians to weigh in on Blue Cross’ clinical policies, operations and contracting practices.

The advisory group consists of four MAG member physicians as well as MAG Health Policy and Third Party Payer Advocacy Department Director Susan Moore and BCBSGa Senior Clinical Officer Mark Kishel, M.D., and BCBSGa Director of Network Management/Georgia Provider Solutions Hayden Mathieson. They will meet a minimum of three times a year.

Rental Networks


MAG supports legislation that would limit rental networks in Georgia. A rental network involves a health insurer that rents or sells its network of physicians to another health insurer. These second-level insurers then include the physicians in their health insurance plans – and pay the physicians an even deeper discount – even though they don’t have a contract with the physicians.


It’s not uncommon for physicians to offer their services to a health insurer at a discounted rate because the higher patient volume offsets the costs. However, the aforementioned insurers rent or sell their networks without the physician’s knowledge – so the physicians often aren’t aware that they are in a given network or that they are contractually obligated to deliver patient care at a greater discount.


Rental networks result in mass confusion and higher administrative costs (e.g., the additional staff time that is required to verify a patient’s health insurance coverage and/or confirm the proper payment). Rental networks can also reduce the accessibility of care because physicians are forced to accept the lower (i.e., “re-priced” or “re-rented”) payment or refuse to see the patient for any follow-up or future care.


Rental networks are an inappropriate, profit-driven tactic that undermines the practice environment in Georgia that will exacerbate the physician shortage in the state. Sixteen states have now adopted laws that regulate or limit or prohibit rental networks.


Insurers are prohibited from using rental networks in federal employee health benefits plan contracts.



All-Products Clauses


Insurance companies use ‘all-products or all-or-nothing’ clauses as a cost-control tactic to force physicians to participate in every health insurance product that they offer or be blocked from caring for patients in the insurer’s plan altogether.


By forcing physicians and their practices to agree to all-products clauses, health insurers are undermining the economic viability of the medical profession in Georgia – keeping in mind that a report that was prepared by IMS Health for the American Medical Association determined that physicians in Georgia “created a total of $29.7 billion in direct and indirect economic output (i.e., sales revenues) in 2012… [and] each physician supported $1,559,494 in [economic] output.” It is also worth noting that the report found that “…physicians supported 205,869 jobs (including their own)…[and] $1,089.6 million in local and state tax revenues in 2012.”


Because physicians are constantly wrestling with these manipulative contract provisions, they have less time to spend with their patients.


All-products clauses violate several individual rights, including the right to contract and an owner’s right to operate a business in a free and autonomous way.


Physicians and medical practices in Georgia should be free to accept the health insurance products of their choice versus the ones that’s imposed on them by profit-driven insurance companies.


Eleven states have enacted prohibitions on all-products clauses, including Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, and Virginia – as well as Washington, D.C.


Special Guest

Donald Palmisano, CEO, Executive Director of Medical Association of Georgia  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1  facebook_logo_small3

Medical Association of Georgia

  • JD Law, Loyola School of Law
  • Board of Directors, Physician Advocacy Institute
  • Medical Payment Subcommitte Member, State Board of Workers’ Compensation
  • Treasurer, Board of Directors, Physicians’ Institute for Excellence in Medicine
  • Former Director, Government Relations/General Counsel/Director, GAMPAC