Oct 30

Tricks for Healthier Halloween Treats

Halloween, Candy, Healthy NutritionRemember those old SAT analogies? Halloween is to Candy as Christmas is to… Gifts! With a holiday largely focused around a tradition of dressing up in costumes and going from house to house gathering copious amounts of treats, candy is pretty much unavoidable.

If you have young children going out in the neighborhood on the hunt for sweets, expect them to bring back pounds of these trick-gotten-gains. Once the candy winds up being poured out of the bucket into a giant mound in the middle of your living room, the sorting, sharing, trading and eating portion begins. This part of Halloween is an important family tradition and a great bonding experience for you and your kids.

Even if you don’t have young children, expect candy to be everywhere around Halloween. Whether you’re buying candy to be offered as treat for the little monsters knocking on your door, or simply enjoying candy out of a bowl at a Halloween party, expect to get your fair share. Since most candy does not go bad for a while, most of us will wind up eating the Halloween leftovers at some point.

So, is there such a thing as healthy Halloween candy? Can we partake in this enormous intake of sugar and come out of it healthy on November 1st? Although Halloween candy is not likely to make any successful diets anytime soon, there are some candies that are a little healthier than others… Being a little choosy with your Halloween treats can potentially help you out in cutting a lot of unhealthy stuff out of your, and your child’s October 31st diet.

First and foremost: Sugar, and the sugar-high that comes with it is pretty much unavoidable as far as Halloween candy goes. Be sure to keep your kids from eating too much of their haul on Halloween night. Sugar is also bad for your teeth: rinsing your mouth out with water immediately after eating sugary candy is a great way to reduce the damage to your teeth. Keep in mind, brushing vigorously immediately after sugar can actually damage your enamel, so rinse with water, and wait a bit. Keep in mind, the nutrition facts label on the back of the candy pouches is your friend… compare candies, and avoid ones with excessive sugar, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, hydrogenated oil, and sodium. You should also encourage your kids to be mindful of nutrition facts… make it a fun game of compare and contrast for them, while teaching them the importance of the right ingredients. Last but not least: chocolate. Milk chocolate may be sweeter, but dark chocolate has less fat from milk products, and is actually a lot better for you.

Now that you are armed with knowledge about how to we get tricked, how not to get tricked and how to enjoy treats, you are ready for Halloween 2014! We wish you a spooky, scary and sweet Halloween!

 

Oct 28

Can “Too Scary” Be Dangerous?

Halloween, Scared, Healthy HeartHalloween is just around the corner. That means haunted houses, horror movies, terrifying costumes and elaborate decorations of horrible evil anything. A week ago, we featured an article about the science of being scared — what makes us actually scared of all this spookiness around Halloween, and why some things are scarier than others.

Yes, our reaction to being scared is deeply biological. Halloween fun preys on our genetic and behavior adaptation of dealing with stressful situations via rapidly raising our heartbeats, increasing adrenaline… that rush we feel right after being scared is our bodies getting us ready to fight the monster, or flee.

To expand on last week’s topic, we started wondering… can a Halloween “trick” be too scary? Can we be so scared that it actually causes us harm?

Yes, Absolutely!

The simple fact is that the biological response to scary situations of rapidly increasing heartbeat and flooding our bodies with adrenaline has been developed to benefit our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who were dealing with real danger from predators and fellow hunters on a daily basis throughout their lifetimes. The dangers we face, and our need for responses to dangerous situations today is a far cry from our hunter-gatherer ancient ancestors. Over the thousands of years of civilization, we have become rather sedentary and inactive — most of us today spend our days behind a desk or walk about with very little actual physical activity. Most of our stress is a mid-level, long-term stress associated with jobs, finances and family. Many generations of not needing to utilize our “fight or flight” mechanisms impaired our abilities to correctly and effectively respond to situation of sudden, high stress.

Adrenaline, the chemical that floods our bodies in these situations of sudden, high stress is a toxic chemical in large amounts. It can cause our hearts to beat/vibrate so rapidly, the heart can get into a rhythm not suitable for properly pumping blood through our bodies… this is referred to as ventricular fibrillation. If the heart stops pumping blood, we stop living… plain and simple.

Although those with heart decease are at more of a risk, anyone can potentially suffer from an adrenaline overdose just from being scared. Keeping your heart healthy with exercise and a good diet is the key to being able to better handle situations of sudden stress, or rather getting your heart to respond to adrenaline in a less dangerous manner.

With all that being said, we wish you a good, and healthy, scare this Halloween!

 

Oct 23

We Are CPH & Associates

Phil Hodson, CPH, Employee SpotlightCPH & Associates is a family of dedicated and talented individuals working together to create unmatched efficiency and service for their clients. C. Phillip Hodson has been the President of CPH and associates for more than 15 years. Below, he shared his experiences and motivations while working for CPH.

 

Why did you choose, and how long have you worked with CPH?

I started CPH and Associates after many years working in the program insurance industry. I knew there was room for a company with a strong customer service approach centered on cutting edge technology, so I took the risk and started it myself.  My goal was and continues to be to focus first on the needs of the customer.

 

What is your role at CPH?

I’m always looking for ways we can perform our services better and continue to stay above and beyond our competition. I’m a big picture thinker, so I’m constantly reviewing our efforts and helping our team members figure out ways to make my ideas reality.

 

Why would customers need to interact with you?

I still enjoy being on the front lines of our customer service, so you might even reach me directly when you call our office. I’ll make sure you’re directed to the team member that can assist you quickest. I find this is the best way to stay on the pulse of our organization and flush out any potential issues that need solving.

 

How would you describe the company culture?

My focus has always been on accountability, responsibility and respect. I believe all our team members understand the importance of these components and that is a huge part of what has made us successful.

 

What do you like most about working for CPH?

Being the boss! Joking. Truthfully though, I’m thrilled at the progress our tiny agency has made in our short history. As we continue to grow and enter new markets I’m confident that we can continue to honor our customers through our service and maintain our company philosophy.

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.

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