HHS will develop a system for online error reporting by pharmacists and other medical providers.
Pennsylvania has added an 11 person group called the Patient Safety Authority. This group will gather required hospital information on medical errors and near misses and make recommendations. It will not be a regulating agency. They will not reveal hospital or physician specific information, only track and trends. Hospitals are also required to notify patients in writing within seven days if a serious event, one that is unanticipated and causes an injury, occurs. All hospitals, ASCs, and birthing centers must have already reported the names of their patient safety officers to the authority. Each hospital must also have a patient safety committee with at least two community representatives. Top
The New Jersey insurer MIIX has been ordered to drop coverage in 25 states in which it loses money. The publicly owned company wants to reorganize this year and become owned by the New Jersey physicians it insures. It makes money in New Jersey by insuring 7000 physicians.
California legislators continue to debate the merits of placing settlement decisions on line for public consumption. The tension is between the public's right to know and the issues of judicial economy and confidentiality. Since settlements outnumber suits by 25 times, this potentially could destroy the judiciary. California also has a fast-track law that states all cases must be heard within one year of filing.
Nevada is getting desperate for physicians due to their terrible malpractice problem. The Governor had asked the Medical Board to loosen some of its requirements for licensing in the state. The Medical Board unofficially said "no" to the request. Most physicians also are against the proposal to bring less than fully qualified physicians into the state. They believe, as I do, that the way to help them is to change the laws requiring tort reform.
Pennsylvania has fined Lancaster General Hospital all of $500 for a death of a 15 year old due to an overdose of pain medication. The death was caused by an inadvertent mislabeled syringe of IV pain medication for a pump.
Pennsylvania has also come closer to the repeal of the outmoded concept of joint and several liability. The Senate has joined the House in passing a bill to do the repeal. The Governor has already stated he wants joint and several liability removed. Top
The East Bay Business Times reports that employers are ill prepared for the soon to be compulsory HIPAA. They do not understand how it will affect them. The privacy means they must train their employees in how to maintain confidentiality of all medical information given to them in confidence. They also will be asked to sign confidentiality agreements with health plans, clearing houses and covered providers. If the employer is self insured they need to appoint or hire a privacy officer. Some companies are hiring outside benefit companies so they will not be burdened by seeing confidential health information. All this will cost a significant amount of money which has not been added to the budget as yet.
The Atlanta Business Times writes that the healthcare companies operating in Georgia are banding together to comply with HIPAA. They are discussing the new data management rules.
The Washington Post states that people are getting bombarded with notices from their pharmacies regarding alternative drugs or refill notifications. Many times the letters are funded by the drug companies whose prescription is being touted. At times the prescriptions are changed without the patient being asked. Top
OSHA has published the new (old)
rules regarding bloodborne pathogens. This is found at
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Education has limited the hours any resident in any specialty can be on call. They will be limited to 80 hours per week with a minimum of 10 hours rests between shifts. They also may not be on call for more than 24 straight hours. The rules take effect in July 2003. This will cost hospitals mucho dinero to hire more residents in order to fill their needs. It also should be interesting how many hospitals will voluntarily comply and how aggressive the residents are in making sure their rights are protected. Top
CMS has stated on June 13, 2002, that a physician may be on call at more than one hospital at a time. This makes for economy of resources. The hospitals need to be aware that the physician is on call at more than one place since each hospital has an EMTALA duty. 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.