Posts Tagged ‘medical disciplinary action’

The Week in Review: did you miss last week’s posts on health, safety, medicine, law and healthcare? A sneak preview of the week ahead.

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Eye Opener - Nash & Associates Blog

This week we are starting a weekly posting of our blogs of this past week, some key blogs of interest to our more than 6,500 monthly readers, and a sneak preview of what’s coming next week. We would really like for you to join our community of readers, so don’t forget to hit the RSS Feedburner button or subscribe to our blog, Eye Opener. We share with you our thoughts, insights and analysis of what’s new in the law, the world of law and medicine, health, patient and consumer safety as well as a host of other topics that we deal with as lawyers on a daily basis in trying to serve the needs of our clients.

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This Past Week

Birth Defect Updates: Warnings About Opioid Use Before and During Pregnancy In this post, Sarah Keogh, explored a new report which is vital information for women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Opiods, narcotic pain killers such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone, are a valuable part of a physician’s drug armamentarium, but they can have significant implications for a fetus if taken during pregnancy or even just before a woman become pregnant. Read Sarah’s important piece, be informed and learn why you should discuss the use of any such drugs with your obstetrician/gynecologist before taking them.

 

Doctors Disciplined by Their Own Hospitals Escape Actions by Licensing Boards. Who’s at Fault? Brian Nash, founder of the firm, writes about a serious problem with this country’s medical licensing boards, who have failed, at an alarming rate, to take disciplinary action against physicians, who have had their hospital privileges revoked, suspended or curtailed for issues such as sub-standard care, moral transgressions and the like. Public Citizen brought this story to light; we analyze the issue and share our thoughts on this serious patient health and safety issue.

Decreasing Obesity Risks in Children: Another Benefit of Breastfeeding A mom herself and an advocate for public health childhood obesityand safety throughout her legal career, Sarah Keogh reports on a recent study covered by the Baltimore Sun about the long-term benefits of breastfeeding for at least six months. The issue for many, however, is – how can a family of two income earners afford to do this? Does our society and the workplace really lend itself to this practice? Read Sarah’s compelling piece and share your experience and thoughts.

The Week Ahead

Sneak preview of what’s ahead during the week of March 28, 2011:

medical technology

Brian Nash begins a series on the issue of medical technology and patient health/safety. Is the medical community being properly trained in the proper and safe use of all the new medical devices that are hitting our hospitals, clinics and medical offices? Is the rush to have the newest, shiniest and “best” new medical device really advancing the safe and effective delivery of healthcare in our country? Here’s a sneak preview…

Dr. Roper and so many other dedicated healthcare professionals are faced daily with the same issue – “…challenged by the task of putting lofty ideas into practice at the local level. I remain very committed to the effort, but we are daily challenged to put the best ideas into practice.” Put another way – at least for me – taking public healthcare policy and practices and making a much better widget.

As these lofty concepts were debated, published and analyzed, technology streaked along with its new bells and whistles at what some might call an amazing – almost mystifying – pace. Did you really envision yourself 25 years ago sitting with your iPhone or iPad and scouring the world’s news, chatting with your friends and followers on the other side of the planet, watching the latest streaming video of March Madness or sharing every random thought you have on Twitter or Facebook?

Some top posts you may have missed

What happens when your surgeon has been up all night and you are being wheeled into the operating room to be his or her next surgical case? We looked at an article from The New England Journal of Medicine that addressed this patient safety issue and made recommendations for change.  See our posting entitled A Surgeon’s Sleep Deprivation and Elective Surgery-Not a good (or safe) combination.

Dr. Kevin Pho, who is the well known editor and contributor of KevinMD.com, wrote a piece in which he espoused his belief that medical malpractice cases really do not improve patient safety. Having read this piece and finding that this was just too much to digest, Brian Nash wrote a counter-piece entitled Malpractice System Doesn’t Improve Patient Safety – Oh Really? What this led to was cross-posting by Dr. Kevin Pho on our blog, Eye Opener, and our posting on his blog. Our blog post (as best I can tell) led to one of the all-time highest postings of comments by readers of KevinMD. One thing all participants in the “debate” learned – we are both passionate about our positions. Read what led to this firestorm.

 

Seriously Flawed Federal Database Subject of Intense Investigation: Many Sanctioned or Unlicensed Care Givers Missing.

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Some weeks back I wrote on a report of nurses crossing state lines to continue practicing medicine even though they had lost their licenses or had been disciplined in another jurisdiction.  This evening we get a report  done by ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times of a horribly defective database established by Congress in 1990 – Section 1921 of the Social Security Act – The Medicare and Medicaid Patient and Program Protection Act of 1987 as amended by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. 

In this investigative story, Dangerous Caregivers Missing From Federal Database – ProPublica, we get insight into a very broken national database system established to track incompentent care givers in the interest of public safety.  Here are some random samples provided by the reporters:

Numerous disciplinary records appear to be missing from a federal database. Indiana, for example, didn’t report hundreds of disciplinary actions in 2004 and 2005 – including the nearly 100 nurses who were indefinitely barred from caring for patients. In one case, a nurse had put a knife to a co-worker’s throat.

Some of the missing cases involve providers who have harmed patients – a nurse, for instance, whose license was pulled after she injected a patient with painkillers in a drugstore parking lot and improperly prescribed methadone to an addict who later died of an overdose.

The Act as amended was “designed to protect program beneficiaries from unfit health care practitioners . . . .  Section 1921 . . . requires each State to adopt a system of reporting to the Secretary of HHS certain adverse licensure actions taken against health care practitioners . . . and entities.  It also requires each State to report any negative actions or findings that a State licensing authority, peer review organization, or private accreditation entity has concluded against a health care practitioner or health care entity.”  (Quotation from The Federal Register, Thursday, January 28, 2010).

The implementation of this new rule, authorizing use of the national database, is to be effective March 1, 2010.  Perhaps this database is not quite ready for ‘prime time’ yet!

As the reporters for ProPublica and the LA Times point out, the reporting to the database over these past decades has been random and gravely flawed at best.  Numerous discrepancies have been found by a team of investigative reporters.  When state records of licensure actions have been cross-checked against this national database, shockingly numerous omissions of reporting are evident.  This has been brought to the attention of the government officials.  Here are some of their responses:

The omissions took federal health officials by surprise. Only last month, a spokesman for the agency that oversees the database told reporters that “no data is missing.” Another official said the agency had been “constantly” checking its data against state licensing board websites.

But Friday, the head of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) acknowledged that records were missing. She said her agency had launched a “full and complete” review to determine what is wrong and how to fix it.

“We take this very seriously,” administrator Mary Wakefield said.

The new information will still go online as planned – but with a warning that it is incomplete, she said.

Wakefield and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter Friday to the nation’s governors asking for their immediate help fixing gaps in the database [4]. It was a matter of “protecting the safety of patients across this country,” they wrote.

So, the question remains: how many more previously determined incompetent and dangerous health care providers are going to be rendering care while the government figures out who is missing from the database?  How long will it take the government to fill-in the void of information?  Maybe they should hire the investigators for ProPublica and the LA Times, who apparently have a lot better information that our federal government in its database.  Will there finally be significant penalties for states that fail to report as they should have been doing for years and years?  Where does this incompetence end?  When will public safety take some precedence? 

A law has been ‘on the books’ for two decades.  Only now we discover that it is defective at best.  Hopefully it will take less than two more decades for those who should be listed among the ‘dangerous caregivers’ to become included in this ‘book of shame’ database.