Oct 21

The Science of Scary

Halloween, Scary, Spooky, DangerHalloween is coming up. With Halloween come endless spooky decorations, and haunted houses while horror movies fill up seats at your local movie theater.

Experiencing or participating in something spooky, scary or downright terrifying around Halloween is a pretty much a social must… More than 97% of the United States’ population participates in some kind of Halloween-related activity around late October, whether it be going to a haunted house, a costume party, trick-or-treating or making it a movie night with a horror flick. Moreover, it appears that avoiding Halloween-related activities are somewhat difficult around this time of year. If you scare easily, your friends, family and co-workers may not be so sympathetic. In fact, they may be more likely to drag you to some kind of fright-fest!

The ghoulish decorations… spider webs, ghosts, zombies and an array of creatures in various stages of dismemberment, decay or injury is scary in its own right, and the answer is biological. Our primal animal instincts that have been bred into us through natural selection have taught us long ago to be afraid of the dark… those ancestors of ours who were not afraid to venture out into the dark, scary woods were more likely to be mauled by night-hunting creatures and did not reproduce as successfully as those who huddled by the fire. Based on a similar principle, we developed a fear of creatures that did not look like us… those who were not afraid of spiders, bats and just about anything with giant teeth were more likely to be bitten or mauled, therefore less likely to reproduce. The same goes for blood and gore… we are altruistic, social creatures who are biologically-wired to be concerned for others. Our instinct tells us that where there is blood and injury, danger or a predator is near… run!

There is also another type of scare that is commonly used around Halloween… the jump scare. This is especially popular in horror movies: imagine a dimly-lit hallway, the main protagonist is slowly and quietly making their way. The movie’s score is very soft and quiet, or absent whatsoever, with the noises of dripping water, footsteps and shuffling of clothing turned up all the way. Suddenly, a monster jumps out of the dark and attacks our hero… this is accompanied by a piercing loud noise, or a abrupt crescendo in the score. We jump out of our seats, hence, the “jump scare.” The jump scare plays on yet another primal instinct of ours: fight or flight. Faced with an instance of an unexpected stressful event, our body fills with adrenaline, our heartbeat rapidly increases and our bodies prepare to handle the danger via either confronting it, or fleeing. Once again, this is an evolutionary adaptation of ours… those whose bodies did not respond to situations of sudden stress or danger were less likely to escape or defeat the predator lurking in the woods… science!

 

Oct 16

Transporting Ebola

Ebola, Travel, BioSafety, VirusWe live in a world of unprecedented global connectivity. While the world wide web connects us digitally, air travel can get anyone from pretty much any place in the world to pretty much any place in the world in a day or less.

With the internet serving as a global digital network tying together international businesses like never before, the need for physical international travel for sales pitches, meetings, training and hand-shakes has kept the air travel industry very much afloat — several airline companies are even developing the next generation of supersonic commercial jets.

With millions of people being exposed to a sealed environment aboard an airplane, and touching door handles, banisters and faucets throughout the world’s largest airport hubs, air travel also becomes a perfect breeding and spreading ground for some of the world’s worst diseases.

The 2014 Ebola Outbreak has far surpassed any previous outbreaks, with more than 8,000 reported cases, and a death toll climbing steadily north of 4,000.

Ebola is a Biosafety Level 4 Virus, requiring the highest level of containment reserved for the most dangerous and exotic viruses. Those exposed have to be closely monitored for symptoms, and absolutely should not use methods of mass public transportation for travel. Unfortunately, this level of containment is next to impossible to achieve — those exposed to Ebola often ignore symptoms, or simply do not realize they have been exposed, therefore do not follow protocols. The Center for Disease Control has been battling to contain the outbreak in Africa, however, monitoring and enforcing biosafety protocols of in Third World countries is problematic due to outdated, insufficient facilities, improper nutrition and low or substandard medical supplies.

The failure in adhering to Ebola containment protocols is not limited to the Third World. Amber Vinson, 29, a nurse at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital boarded a plane after having cared for an Ebola patient. She boarded with a fever of 99.5, according to a CDC spokesperson.

Amber was later diagnosed with Ebola, and transferred to Emory Hospital in Atlanta for containment and treatment.

The key to containing Ebola is self-monitoring, especially for health care workers. Monitoring your body temperature, staying hydrated, disinfecting hands and medical equipment, getting plenty of rest and maintaining a healthy immune system could reduce the chances of infection and prepare your body to fight the virus in the worst case scenario. If any Ebola symptoms occur in your patient or yourself, act quickly to keep it from spreading.

Oct 14

How Safe Was Christopher Columbus on His Journey?

Christopher Columbus, History, Columbus Day, InsuranceThey say Insurance people have a one-track mind. “It’s all about insurance for them,” They say… “It’s all they think about, it’s all they talk about, it’s all they ever argue about… at work, on the weekends, on holidays…”

We politely disagree. Although Hawaii, Alaska Oregon and South Dakota do not recognize Columbus Day is an official holiday, most of the country did celebrate yesterday as the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas in 1492.

We celebrated the day as well… wondering about Christopher Columbus’s journey. Specifically, we wondered whether he had insurance. Here is what we came up with:

By the mid 1400s, the idea of a flat Earth was pretty much dismissed by the intellectual elite. With that were dismissed the fears of falling off the planet deck at the edge, and being eaten by monstrous creatures dwelling below. Earth being round also meant that regardless of which way you were headed towards a destination, you would eventually arrive there. Armed with this rather thin theory, Christopher Columbus laid out an ambitious plan to discover a new trade route with India and the Orient via sailing west instead of east and circumnavigating the globe to arrive in the “Far East.”

It is possible that Christopher Columbus set sail with some type of a maritime insurance policy, but it is not likely. The first example of insurance practices by its modern definition could be traced back to Genoa, Italy, around the mid 14th Century. However, the first insurance rule book was not printed until 1552, more than 50 years after Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. Even if maritime insurance practices existed in Spain at that time, they covered goods destroyed during transport for merchant purposes. Columbus’s journey was strictly exploration-based — it was highly unlikely that a policy could have been written for Columbus’s journey considering there would have been no way to assess the risk of such a journey.

It was not until more than a century after Columbus’s first journey to the Americas that maritime insurance really took off with the formation of Lloyd’s Coffee House in London, which later became the Lloyds of London insurance market. Lloyd’s Coffee House was a place frequented by ship owners and shipping magnates who eventually paved the way for widespread underwriting practices for shipping.

It is not likely that that Columbus had maritime insurance. It is even less likely that he had life insurance — the first policy was not written until the 18th century, around the same time that business, and liability insurances also became available.

To put it mildly, Christopher Columbus had little margin for error. Without insurance, he had no choice but to come back with results. He did. Happy Columbus Day!

Oct 09

Mental Illness Awareness Week – Depression

Mental Health, Depression, Mental Illness Awareness WeekThe week of October 5th – 11th is this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week. Tuesday, October 7th, was the National Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding Day, and Today, October 9th, is the National Depression Screening Day.

Back in 1990, the US Congress established the first week of October as the Mental Illness Awareness Week to recognize the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise awareness of mental illness.

NAMI is fighting a worthwhile cause, for there are many obstacles to overcome on the road to Mental Illness Awareness. While millions of Americans living with mental disorders or conditions, far fewer seek treatment, or even recognize a problem.

The first and foremost obstacle to overcome in educating the public on the subject of Mental Illness is the stigma associated with mental disorders. Unfortunately, we live in a society where most still believe that mental illness is something voluntary, and more often than not, a sign of weakness.

Depression is one of them most commonly-occurring and misdiagnosed conditions that arise in our society today. Those surrounding a person with a mental condition such as depression tend to lash out and blame the sufferer on their condition as if they are choosing to be depressed. We are all social creatures — the unfortunate consequence of clinical depression is that others around the person who do not suffer from the same condition do not understand the change in mood, and attribute it to the person’s own choice, their own choice to withdraw from their friends and loved ones. Quite simply, nobody wants to be around a sad person, so loved ones get mad, friends give up, coworkers ignore… the person suffering from depression winds up being ostracized, ignored and feeling guilty for something they have very little control over.

The aim of Mental Illness Awareness Week is to change this downward spiral of behavior. Overcoming depression is not an insurmountable hurdle. Depression can be battled through changing behaviors; starting an exercise routine, changing diets, picking up a hobby or even getting rid of bad habits could help the an individual break out of depression’s vice grip. If a case is more serious, help from a mental health professional could be the best solution. Remember, seeking treatment for a mental illness is just like treating any other illness — it should be encouraged, supported and helped. Instead of ostracizing a person suffering from depression, help them, support them, listen to them, encourage them to seek help. Once they break out of the fog, they’ll be forever thankful, and you will have your friend or family member back to how you remember them!

 

Oct 07

My Employer Already Has Liability Insurance… Why Should I Get More?

Nurse Malpractice LiabilityFor nurses, it is often difficult to justify getting their own liability/malpractice insurance. In most cases, a simple query to your employer’s HR department will most likely reveal that they carry some type of liability or malpractice insurance. For most medical offices and hospitals, minimum liability or malpractice insurance requirements are set forth by state laws. In the rare event that no such laws are present, any hospital or private practice participating in government programs or contracts including Medicare or Medicaid will most likely be required to obtain a certain level of liability or malpractice insurance to maintain compliance.

That same inquiry to the HR department may even leave you with a deterrent: “Don’t worry, we already have liability insurance, you don’t need your own.” In fact, this could not be further from the truth.

Medical professionals and staff can be sued at any time, for any reason. Payouts from medical malpractice suits equal close to $4 Billion in 2013, in the US alone. Some areas of the country are more prone to malpractice suits than others: there are 5 states: Florida, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York that all carry an overwhelmingly larger number of malpractice payouts than the other 45 states according to a 2012 Diederich Healthcare analysis.

“But I am so careful at work, and all the patients love me… I’ll never get sued!” Once again, this could not be further from the truth. With the amount of doctors, assistants and nurses handling each patient, and their confidential medical information, a medical-related failure or breach of information could occur at any time, without your contribution or even awareness. Even without a mistake, a chance at their own slice of a $4-Billion-Dollar pie could potentially turn even the kindest patient into a greedy monster.

Once you get a malpractice suit notice, it will ALWAYS come as a surprise. Even if the suit does not go to court, be prepared for scrutiny, stress and uncertainty. You will most likely find that same liability insurance that your employers assured you is sufficient protection is tailored very well towards protecting the EMPLOYER and not you. Nothing against you… that is simply what their lawyers are paid to do.

In the likely malpractice suit scenario where your interests and the interests of your employer diverge, the best practice is to have your own malpractice help. Your own malpractice insurance gives you your own lawyers, there to protect you, your career, your livelihood, and your reputation.

Oct 02

Are You Ready for the HIPAA Audit Program?

Get ReadyPhase two of the HIPAA audit program has not yet been unleashed, but big changes are on the way. Once the DHS’ program resumes, there will be more on-site audits – in conjunction of which they will reveal the new auditing technology that will assist in evaluating compliance.

These audits will be evaluated by the DHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR). This on-site is a big move from the previous plan for desk audits. The OCR projects 1,200 HIPAA Entities to be screened once the program rolls out – but what does that mean for your workplace?

The first thing your workplace can expect if being considered for an audit, is to receive a pre-screening survey. Covered entities will be the first to receive it, and then business associates will be subject to the audit thereafter.

It should be noted that pre-screening surveys do not guarantee an audit, just that there may be one in the future. While the OCR will still be conducting the off-site desk audits, the on-site desk audits.

The reason for the change from desk audits to on-site audits is to reveal failures in operational procedures. According to HealthCareInfoSecurity.com and Mac McMillan, CEO of security consulting firm CynergisTek. “You can produce documentation, but have poor implementation, and a desk audit won’t necessarily show that. Onsite audits hold someone more accountable.”

2 Factors that Make You Susceptible to a Security Audit

1. Big breach in your practice. This is a sure way to get a security audit.

2. Series of small breaches. Clean things up at your practice, an audit is likely on the way.

For more information on what to expect from security risk assessment, visit: www.HealthIT.gov/security-risk-assessment

Sep 30

Medical Malpractice: A Quick Overview

Malpractice LiabilityMedical malpractice is often an umbrella accusation. When applied properly, it occurs when a medical professional has been negligent in administering healthcare. This can include if an action or procedure may cause damage, physical or mental, to a patient.

Many procedures can be linked to malpractice, but mistakes can and do happen. Malpractice threats include:

  • Administering medicines
  • Keeping records
  • Wrong diagnosis
  • Deviating from general standards of acceptable practice and care
  • Poor sanitation
  • Neglectful nurse care

At a practice, there are multiple people who can be held accountable or associated with the malpractice lawsuit. In many cases, this makes both the individual and the practice liable. State and/or federal agencies can also be held responsible for failures in medical care.

Who can be involved?

In a hospital setting, most cases involve:

  • Nurses,
  • Attending physician,
  • Radiologists,
  • Pathologists, and
  • Consulting specialists

In an office, this list may also include:

  • Outside consultants
  • Physicians who treated the patient prior to his/her visit

Oftentimes, attorneys may name everyone in a practice.

Lawsuit threats can become a reality- and the definition of “responsible party” is incredibly loose.  Even if you have only had remote contact with the patient, you may still have a financial responsibility to bear in the lawsuit.

Take some time to review the medical malpractice portion of your liability insurance policy. You could be named in a lawsuit, and the legal fees and lengthy court process can leave you susceptible to serious financial burden and professional threat. Take the extra precaution of having your own malpractice insurance policy is important when defending your name, license and career.

For more information and a free quote, visit CPHins.com.

Sep 25

Yoga for Mental Health

YogaThe Department of Health and Human Services has recognizes September as National Yoga Month! This can mean experiencing a full week of yoga, free, at a local gym or yoga studio. While over 1,600 yoga studios nationwide are participating in free yoga week (find them here), there must be a good reason for a government organization to recognize the yoga in such a way.

The fact is, yoga is a wonderful way to not only maintain flexibility, but considered a practice for improving the mind and body. An ancient practice from India, yoga is a way to both improve your mental health and physical posture.

Yoga has been discovered to:

  • Resolve chronic low-back pain
  • Reducing heart rate and blood pressure
  • Relieve anxiety and depression

One of the biggest benefits of yoga is the ability to alleviate stress. The focused breathing and mental state reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. These are all great benefits, but how exactly does yoga do this? We may feel silly holding a downward facing dog pose or holding your legs in the air, but the reality is that this disorienting array of bodily discombobulation can actually make a lot of things in our bodies RIGHT.

Yoga does this by actually changing the way that our nerves fire. Blood gases, bodily fluids change and as a result, encourage our bodies to relax. Tension, adrenalin, and bodily stress turns to calm and relaxation. Many proclaim that yoga can tone up your internal organs, spinal nerves, elongate muscles and slow brain/nerve firing.

For more info on the benefits of yoga, check out this additional info from the National Institutes of Health>>

Sep 23

Ethical Advertising for Medical Professionals

Ethical CounselingMost medical professions are subject to a certain level of marketing for business growth and improvement. However, when advertising for a medical service, should a therapist or medical professional not be held to a higher standard as in all practices? Unethical practices in advertising are rampant among the medical community – how can we keep ourselves accountable? Morality and a code of ethics should be taken into account when convincing the outsider, the patient, to come to your practice. Not only will this manage expectations, but prevent disagreements, poor service, and potential malpractice.

Therapists and for-profit medical professionals must develop a strong ethical code for healing as well as a strong business strategy. While this may seem to threaten the profit of the private practice, many healers underestimate the costs of doing business.

New business owners of all types deal with:

  • Unexpected expenses,
  • Training,
  • Illness,
  • Vacations,
  • Taxes,
  • Slow times in their business

And these costs DO add up. Unexpected expenses and unfortunate events can lead to any human questioning their ethics.

As with our patients, it’s important to properly diagnose ourselves. Decisions based out of fear or panic can be incredibly harmful to ourselves and others. Successful therapists must find the best way to provide the best services, pay the bills, and promote oneself with integrity.

How can one advertise with integrity? There are 4 simple mainstays to guide you:

  1. Never advertise something you don’t believe in.
  2. Never work with a patient you don’t believe you can help.
  3. Don’t be afraid to refer patients out! Offer someone better suited to the patient.
  4. NEVER advertise psychotherapy as “coaching” to avoid meeting state laws.

Most clients do not know or understand therapy or psychotherapy. Develop realistic expectations with the patient by clearly mapping out what the patient will be doing. Understanding is key to successful growth.

There is a lot of apprehension with patients who have never been through therapy sessions. It’s your job to put them at ease and by making psychotherapy a clear, comforting, progressive process for them. Good luck and stay strong!

Sep 18

5 Ways to Tell if You Need Directors and Officers Insurance

Nonprofit organizations are a mainstay of our society. However, as a medical professional participating in charitable work, you could be held liable for protection of your volunteers! Nonprofit board members are open to this risk when they run an NPO, and many are not aware that they may be held personally liable for the actions of the organization.

According to Risk and Insurance Management’s 2012 Cost of Risk Survey, “36% of those who purchased directors and officers insurance reported having a claim in the last 10 years. Nonprofits had the highest proportion of those reporting claims at 63%, followed by public companies (33%) and private companies (27%).”

How can you tell if you are at risk?

  1. Are you a member of a nonprofit organization? If so, you could be held liable. If your role is: volunteer,Directors and Officers, at risk, liability, nonprofit liability employee, director, or officer, you are at risk!
  2. Are you protected under the Volunteer Protection Act? As a volunteer or employee, this may be enough to prevent you from being held responsible for negligence or misconduct on behalf of the NPO. However, as a director or officer, the VPA does nothing to safeguard you in those instances. 
  3. Are your organization’s net assets lower than your personal assets? In most NPOs, this is the case, and can leave the directors and officers even more exposed to threats.
  4. Are you a board member? If so, you also have a legal responsibility to exercise due care. Your responsibilities carry extra liability!
  5. Are you following your organizations mission, by laws, and rules to the letter? If your organization has a failure in fiduciary duty, misuse of funds, or any kind of improper conduct by volunteers or employees, these suits can jeopardize the organization itself! The result? Directors and officers can be held personally liable.

CPH & Associates recommends that companies get covered through NotforProfitins.com. Coverage through NPI is backed by Philadelphia Insurance Companies, an A++ (superior) rated company by A.M. Best. Nonprofit Directors and Officers Insurance is available for, but not limited to, Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Center Insurance, Area Health Education Center Insurance, and Charitable Organization Insurance. Other organizations include: Counseling Centers, Daycares, English as a Second Language Programs, Food Banks, Fundraising Foundations, Goodwill Industries, Homeless Shelters, Mental Health Associations, Respite Care Centers, Tutoring Centers, Job Training, Women’s Shelters, and Youth Associations.

Learn more about liability coverage for directors and officers – NotforProfitins.com – or call CPH toll-free at 800-875-1911.

 

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