Over 100 physicians working for the federal government have been disciplined by state medical boards or have criminal records. This accounts for the grand total of 0.5% of the 20,800 federal physicians. This happens to be lower than the national average in hospitals of 2.6%. The N. Y. Times which should know better gives an impression that the physicians who have been disciplined or convicted of crimes in the distant past can not be good physicians. Yes, there are some that should not be hired like the pedophile in the article. All hospitals or clinics are supposed to check the National Practitioner Data Bank when a new physician comes aboard and every two years thereafter. Government institutions may or may not do this. If they were to work under the same rules as all other hospitals stories like this would go away. I believe all who read my letter regularly know my disdain for the Veteran's system and how it needlessly causes the country to waste billions of dollars so politicians can be re-elected.
The US Department of Agriculture originally stated it would no longer approve foreign medical graduates to practice in rural communities. They have now wiped the egg off their face and agreed to let the program continue. So far there are about 3000 FMGs serving rural America. About a day after the above announcement the Department of Agriculture reversed itself again. In its latest announcement it agreed that its original was the correct statement. This means the Department will get out of the business of sponsoring J-1 visa waivers for foreign physicians who wish to work in rural America. This stand will hurt rural towns with no physicians.
The North Carolina Medical Board has suspended the licenses of three physicians. The suspensions are for 60 days but stayed if they refuse to do business with Virtual Medical Group. This group had the physicians consult with patients over the net and write prescriptions which were filled by the companies pharmacy. The company no longer offers its services in North Carolina. They charge $49 for the consultation plus the price of the prescriptions and are very proud of their product. The people of North Carolina should be happy the company no longer works their state. Top
The Congress has introduced a bill that would use California as model to cap malpractice damages throughout the country. Though it won't pass the Democratic controlled Senate it at least is a start. This has been passed in the House under the Republicans on six previous occasions but the Senate has always rejected the bill.
Nevada has a severe malpractice problem. The governor has tried a short term fix that allows physicians to get malpractice insurance through the state. Not many have applied to to a computer glitch. The state expects several hundred applications before May 1, when their insurance is cancelled. Top
The OIG have published new fraud and abuse corrections. These will increase penalties for patient dumping. The new rule states that prior instances of bad conduct may be considered even if the entity was not convicted.
New rules are to announced either today or tomorrow regarding ambulances and other such things. Top
Kindred Hospital Minneapolis of Golden Valley Minn. has been removed from the Medicare and Medicaid ranks. The 92 bed acute and long term care hospital has had 94 regulatory violations in the past 3 years. The hospital is appealing the decision. Top
The American Hospital Association has taken umbrage against the JCAHO for focusing too much on non-accreditation activities. These are usually money generators and go away from the core reasons for the organizations existence. The present complaint stems from the Commission attempt to bid on a Illinois Peer review Organization contract. The AHA states that the Commission can not decide whether it is an accrediting agency or a regulatory one.
JCAHO has just issued a notice to all organizations it accredits. They state that for ORYX there must be a business associate contract between the organization and the compiler of information. The contract MUST state that the compiler may release information to JCAHO. There will be no contract between the compilers and JCAHO. This has been approved by the Office of Civil Rights. For those of you that do not know, all institutions are required to use ORYX to report Individually Identifiable Heath Information to the compilers. The use of this information is NOT required in the Conditions of Participation but is a JCAHO made law that requires time, manpower and alot of money for each entity. This is the type of thing for which the hospitals are taking JCAHO to task. Top
The California legislature now realizes that rising costs are not allowing them to mandate coverage by the HMOs of treatments such as infertility, bone density and hearing aids. Instead they are attempting to create a commission to weigh costs and medical benefits of each potential new legislative mandated coverage requirement. This independent body would take away the cry of "wolf" from the insurers and look fairly at each item. 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.