Health Care News Heard Around the Nation
Heard around the nation...
- As part of a significant recent initiative to improve the Massachusetts medical malpractice system, seven hospitals plan to offer patients a prompt apology for medical errors and financial settlements before they resort to lawsuits. The new program relies on doctors and nurses to fully disclose mistakes to patients and apologize. Three large insurers and a medical group have donated about $1 million to underwrite the initial work at the seven test hospitals, and the coalition hopes to implement the improvements statewide over the next several years. Patients who accept the financial settlement surrender their right to sue, but those who decline the settlement can pursue legal action.
- The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigated an Arizona medical practice group for using an internet electronic patient scheduling system without appropriate privacy protections. The investigation resulted in the cardiology group settling with the federal government for $100,000 for potential privacy and security violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The investigation was triggered by a complaint that the practice was posting clinical and surgical appointments for its patients on an Internet-based calendar that was publicly accessible. The OCR also found that the practice "had implemented few policies and procedures to comply with the HIPAA privacy and security rules and had limited safeguards in place to protect patients' electronic protected health information." Those absent safeguards included failures to: 1) document that it had properly trained employees on HIPAA privacy and safety requirements; 2) identify a security official for the practice; 3) conduct a security risk analysis; and 4) obtain a business-associates agreement with the firm supplying the online appointment calendar.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has implemented a new web-based tool designed to assist in the resolution of Liability Insurance, No-Fault Insurance, and Workers' Compensation Medicare recovery cases. The new tool is called, The Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Portal (MSPRP). Once registered the MSPRP gives registered users (attorneys, insurers, beneficiaries, and TPAs) the ability to access and update certain case specific information online. Activities that currently require written communication or telephone calls to the Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Contractor (MSPRC)will be able to be done through the portal.
- In April, Maryland became the first state in the nation to ban employers from requesting access to the social media accounts of employees and job applicants. The state’s General Assembly passed legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring or seeking user names, passwords or any other means of accessing personal Internet sites such as Facebook as a condition of employment.