• Seismic Retrofit


  • Hospital Medicare Money

  • Colorado Would Require Quick Insurance Reporting

  • Sue vs. Review

  • Bush overturns Clinton OSHA Reg

  • HIPAA To be Changed

  • Texas Senate passes Medical Privacy Bill

  • California Managed Care

  • Bush Delays another Clinton Regulation

  • We're From Florida and Here to Help You

  • Hospital Calling of Kin

  • Hospital Stop Releasing Birth Data


    Peer Review

    Peer Review

    IMPORTANT! Sen. Figueroa is at it again. She introduced Sen. Bill 150 for the Trial Lawyers.  This bill will allow peer review meetings to be open to discovery.  Members of committees may be forced to testify about the meeting details. Please write and have your staff write your legislators to vote against this harmful bill.

    Seismic Retrofit

    The Sacramento Bee is reporting a story of whether the area hospitals  have the same need for seismic retrofit as the Bay Area or LA. The hospitals will need to spend millions of dollars and delay purchases of needed equipment.  The hospitals state that since they are in an area that is more seismic stable, they should not have to do as much as their cousins in other areas of the state. The other main, and legitimate, gripe is that the legislation is an unfunded mandate.

    The hospitals that have reported to the state regarding their earthquake readiness have shown that more than 1/3 are vulnerable to collapse in a strong quake. As of now the cost for retrofitting or replacement is approximately $12 billion to make initial repairs at a time when most hospitals are financially shaky.                   Top


    In the recent JCAHO Perspective  the commission has stated they are proceeding with drafting standards of staffing effectiveness in hospitals.  They state that they do not "contemplate staffing ratios". Time will tell. 

    They also are planning an 18 month survey cycle to avoid ramp-up activities and "helping to assure the public of a more continuous standards compliance".

    The Commission states they expect institutions to read the Sentinel Event Alert and consider their published suggestions or alternatives.      Top

    Hospital Medicare Money

    The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has recommended to Congress that since hospital's financial conditions have improved, no further payment increases are necessary.  This is significant since Congress usually listens to the commission's advise.  The AHA states that 1/3 of hospitals are losing money on Medicare.  The AARP states that enough has been spent on the providers and more should be spent on prescription drugs and the concerns of the beneficiaries.                    Top

    Colorado Would Require Quick Insurance Reporting

    In a last-minute amendment to a bill already signed off on by the hospital industry, hospitals would be required to notify auto insurers in four days if patients are admitted.  If not done, the hospital could not collect from either the insurer or the injured person any money for care prior to the late notification.             Top

    Sue vs. Reviews

    As the legislation in Congress for Patient Protection continues to be considered, a new study by the Health Plans has been released. The study states that 75% of physicians would rather have their health plans' decisions reviewed by doctor panels than subject to law suit.  The AMA has a study that shows the opposite but uses patients instead of physicians as the basis for their conclusions. I guess it depends on who's ox is being gored.  
    Florida's voluntary board to review HMO decisions is hardly ever used.  The board considers not only what the patient needs but also what the HMO is truly obligated by contract to pay. The board has heard 230 cases during the past six months. In the prior year it heard 220 cases. Many patients and physicians do not know the panel exists.         Top

    Bush Overturns OSHA Reg

    President Bush has sign his first important national congressional law, overturning the Clinton last minute OSHA regulations. OSHA will continue to investigate workplace safety issues but will also rewrite the regulations to limit the items covered and the penalties. Congress and Bush want a more business friendly climate. Top

    HIPAA To be Changed

    HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson stated that the HIPAA rules formulated under the Clinton administration will be modified but not scrapped.  He did not say which parts would be modified but since the rules have been reopened to comment there has been significant pressure by the institutions and pharmacies to change the consent requirements. Thompson also didn't state the time frame for the changes.                                  Top

    Texas Senate Passes Medical Privacy Bill

    The Texas Senate has passed a medical privacy bill to strengthen the patient protections that are threatened in the federal law exemptions. In the federal law medical information may be released for "foundation fund raising or education". The patient, without first consenting, may receive intrusive information. It is then up to the patient to object and request no more information be sent.  The Texas bill requires patient authorization prior to release of medical information.  Penalties are $3,000 per violation and up to $250,000 per violation where the law is repeatedly ignored. Other parts of the bill allow patients to see and correct their medical records, the right to sue to stop release of their medical information and the right to know how health-care entities are using their information.             Top

    California Managed Care

    The California Department of Managed Care has decided not to release information documents and discoveries in arbitration cases to the general public.  The Department does post the outcomes with the identifiable information redacted.  Top

    Bush Delays another Clinton Regulation

    HCFA has delayed the implementation of the federal rule regarding the removal of supervision of nurse anesthetists by anesthesiologists. This delay is from March 19 to May 18. As of now the supervision for Medicare facilities remain.                  Top

    We're From Florida and Here to Help You

    A Florida Senate committee has approved a bill backed by the Florida Medical Association that will require self reporting to the state of all harms accidentally done to patients in physician offices.  These reports will not be made public and not subpoenable unless the state decides to discipline the physician. What ever happened to the 5th amendment?                Top

    Hospital Calling of Kin

    A family that lives in LA but whose mother was hospitalized in Illinois was not notified when the mother was hospitalized with a fall that left her without the ability to speak.  The hospital did not notify the next of kin who state they would have removed her from that hospital had they known she was hospitalized there.  The family has now had a bill in the Illinois and California legislature put in the hopper to mandate the reasonable effort to locate and notification of relatives. This should be an interesting counterpoint to the privacy issue of HIPAA.    Top

    Hospitals Stop Releasing Birth Data

    Some hospitals in an effort to decrease the possibility of infant abduction have stopped releasing patient information to the newspapers. This concept has been endorsed by the JCAHO as one of the methods that can be done to help the problem.  The problem is that many parents enjoy the article and if given a choice would want the information printed. The statistics show that about 100 abductions have occurred in healthcare facilities since 1983. If the parents give informed consent, there should be no problem with releasing the information, even under HIPAA.                     Top


    DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.


    Copyright 2000 Allan Tobias MD JD, Altoby@aol.com
    This page last updated March 31, 2001