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
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.
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
Colorado Would Require Quick
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.
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.
Texas Senate Passes Medical
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
Hospitals Stop Releasing Birth
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.
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