Aug 26

Nurses, Are You Aware of Your Medical Malpractice Risks?

Nurse Medical LiabilityMedical malpractice liability for nurses may be more common than you think. Consider this scenario: Mr. Jameson, a contractor, suffered a heart attack. On June 15, 2010, he was admitted to XYZ Medical Center.  After his coronary bypass surgery, he was transferred to the Critical Care Unit.

His nurse, Lisa Johnson, was on duty with Mr. Jameson as her patient beginning at 7:00 p.m. after his surgery. Mr. Jameson was in a chemically induced coma, and very ill during Nurse Johnson’s’ shift.

He required constant monitoring (blood pressure, blood sugar, and IVs). At the beginning of the shift, Nurse Johnson monitored his IVs, including the IV for Propofol. This IV was inserted into the vein on the front of the right hand. There was no documentation of this assessment, or any other assessment, until 4:30 a.m., when the IV infiltration was added to Mr. Jameson’s medical record.

Mr. Jameson recovered, to be discharged on June 19th. However, he had suffered damage to his right hand from the infiltration. He consulted with a plastic surgeon and the condition of his hand worsened. He had plastic surgery on June 21st at the same hospital. After the surgery, Mr. Jameson’s condition continued to deteriorate. He received no order for physical therapy on the hand.

In March of 2013, Mr. Jameson filed a lawsuit against the hospital. He alleged that the hospital was negligent in care and treatment, leading directly to the infiltration of the IV containing Propofol. This, he claimed, resulted in “severe and permanent” damage to his right hand, right arm, and body.

In this case, Mr. Jameson is in full legal right to name Nurse Johnson as a defendant in the suit.

1. There is no limit to the number of individuals or entities that can be named in a lawsuit.

2. Those who are named as defendants must be “necessary parties” to the suit, and Nurse Johnson qualifies.

3. Applicable standard of care:

a. Interventions are delivered in a manner that minimizes complications and life-threatening situations.

b. Evaluation occurs within an appropriate time frame after interventions are initiated.

If the plaintiff can prove that Nurse Johnson failed to uphold these or other standards of care, she may be held liable. Professional Liability Insurance for Nurses can help protect nurses from such a situation. Claims of carelessness or negligence can be mediated with professional medical malpractice insurance. This is the best way to guarantee that you have the defense needed to go to trial.

When we think of medical malpractice, we tend to focus our attention on doctors, but nurses can be held just as liable in these cases. Nurses need professional liability insurance to stay protected.

Aug 21

Are You HIPAA Compliant?

HIPAA complianceHIPAA compliance is one of the biggest areas of question, concern and overall success of medical professionals. We can talk all day long about the changes, new EHR rules, security requirements and risk threats your practice may need to watch out for – but without a clear plan or process, your practice may already be on the wrong track to HIPAA compliance.

We’ve compiled some of the most essential resources for HIPAA compliance below. At any time, a business partner or regulatory agency can ask you to provide proof that you are HIPAA compliant. Don’t leave yourself at risk!

The Compliance Checklist – from ComplianceHelper.com.

  1. Have you formally designated a person(s) or position(s) as your organization’s privacy and security officer?
  2. Do you have documented privacy and information security policies and procedures?
  3. Have they been reviewed and updated, where appropriate, in the past 12 months?
  4. Have the privacy and information security policies and procedures been communicated to all personnel, and made available for them to review at any time?
  5. Do you provide regular training and ongoing awareness communications for information security and privacy for all your workers?
  6. Have you done a formal information security risk assessment in the last 12 months?
  7. Do you regularly make backups of business information, and have documented disaster recovery and business continuity plans?
  8. Do you require all types of sensitive information, including personal information and health information, to be encrypted when it is sent through public networks and when it is stored on mobile computers and mobile storage devices?
  9. Have you implemented controls to limit physical access to all devices and areas where PHI is accessed or stored?
  10. Do you limit access to PHI to only those who need it to fulfill their job responsibilities?
  11. Have you implemented technical security controls to protect against unauthorized access to electronic PHI?
  12. Have you identified all your business associates (including subcontractors if you are a BA) and ensured they have signed a BA agreement and follow all HIPAA requirements?
  13. Do you require information, in all forms, to be disposed of using secure methods?
  14. Do you have a documented breach response and notification plan, and a team to support the plan?
  15. If you are a covered entity (CE), do you provide a Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) that meets all HIPAA requirements in compliance with the Omnibus Rule changes?
  16. Have you established processes to document and account for disclosures of PHI? (Questions developed by Rebecca Herold, CIPM, CISSP, CIPP/US, CIPP/IT, CISM, CISA, FLMI; CEO, The Privacy Professor: www.privacyguidance.com )

Did you answer no to any of these questions? If so, you are not in compliance with HIPAA and are at risk!

 

 

Aug 19

The Latest Medical Apps for Students, Residents, and Physicians

Applications for Medical ProfessionalsApplications have become an integral part of our life – from the endlessly entertaining “Candy Crush” to the social media savvy Instagram lovers, or the mobile minute saving What’s App users, we all have delightful programs stored on our phones that help us get through daily life. Medical applications are becoming a HUGE part of the medical student’s repertoire of resources: and for good reasons. Below you’ll find our top 5 list of amazing apps for technology-savvy medical professionals.

UpToDate

This app is the go-to for disease pathology and treatments. Many hospitals, academic centers and institutions subsribe to UpToDate Anywhere, which allows a personal account via mobile. Discover how to set up the app from iMedicalApps as a student, so that you can get a discount on the subscription!

Micromedex

Micromedex comes highly ranked among academic pharmacists for clinical information on drugs and pharmaceuticals. You can purchase the app for $2.99 a year, or get the app for free from your institution. It includes a clinical teaching section as well as a toxicology section. Download the app here for Android or iPhone>>

Read by QxMD

This medical app provides a great reading resource on tablets and mobile devices for reviewing and marking medical cases. Visit QxMD to discover more about Read.

Optimism

This free app is meant for the patient – and can be an easy recommendation for psychologists to recommend patients with mood disorders to track and express their daily mood. The app is easy to register – in under a minute a patient can begin ranking their daily mood, record mood improvement strategies, and even charts the overall mood over a long period of time. To download, visit this link>>

Figure 1

This may be the most useful for the emerging medical student. This crowdsourced medical photo social network allows students to browse patient photos and learn diagnoses from a growing medical image library. Discover this free, safe app online here>>

Are you using any great medical apps? Comment below and let us know, or share with us on Facebook!

Aug 14

Best Practices for Cyber Security in the Healthcare Field

cybersecurityCyber security is a hot and incredibly pertinent issue in the medical field today. With the common use of electronic health records and multiple points of access to sensitive health information, it’s more and more important that healthcare groups, big or small, stay protected.

Anti-virus software

Most attackers get into computers via viruses and exploiting coding vulnerabilities. Make sure that the product you are using stays continuously updated. It’s an easy write off and a small price to pay for security.

Ultimately, the most important part of your security is to control access to any information that may fall under HIPAA compliance regulations.

Set permissions for which users can access sensitive data. To keep your electronic health records, or EHRs, safe, it’s important to make sure that the ability and methods of access are extremely controlled.

Strong Passwords

2014 has marked several exceptional breaches of security for all groups. This leaves members of the healthcare field exposed to double the amount of risk: both personal information, and professional, HIPAA compliance threats.

Strong passwords have a purpose – it may seem obvious, but no matter what a strong password can slow down hackers from getting into your system.

What this means: never leave a computer exposed. Even your personal computer should have a password to log in, no matter if it’s a laptop or a desktop that stays at your home at all times. 

The Dos and Don’ts of strong password security:

DO NOT:

-use words found in the dictionary, even if they are altered with letters and numbers

-use personal information, such as birth dates, names, pets, SSN, etc.

-use passwords that you already use on social media/social networking sites

DO:

-make a password of 8+ characters in length

-use upper and lower case letters

-use at least one number

-use at least one special character

-change your password on a regular basis

Implement measures for forgotten passwords

To prevent people from writing down their hard-to-remember, rotating passwords, make sure that you have a backup plan. This can include:

-Storing hard copies in a safe

-A few high-security staff members with administrative privileges who can add, delete or reset passwords.

-Implementing a security program that can allow for password recovery.

Use multi-tiered security to authenticate access

Don’t just require a username and password to log in to major business accounts and computers. This can include a key fob, a smart card, a fingerprint scan, or photo key identification.

Ultimately, there is no way to prepare for the worst. That’s what professional liability insurance is for. Prevent future problems and be ready by staying covered under a liability insurance plan.

Still not sure how to best prepare for the worst? Visit HealthIt.gov to discover more best practices in cybersecurity>>

 

Aug 12

How Is Your Eye Health? Observing National Eye Exam Month

National Eye Care Awareness MonthAugust is the hottest month – we’re drenched in sweat, getting the most exposure to sunlight and consequently, UV ray exposure. In the medical field we tend to emphasize the negative effects of UV rays on the skin, however, August is devoted to making sure we do not forget about eye care! Nearly 13 million Americans are in need of vision correction – and almost half of children under the age of 12 have never been to an optometrist!

Eye health and eye safety are huge factors in our quality of life, no matter the age. Most ophthalmologists and optometrists would agree that no symptoms of vision problems does not mean there are no problems! Practicing good eye care means regular eye checks – if you are between 40 and 65, that’s every 2-4 years. If you’re 65+, every 1-2 years is a must.

The risks of UV ray exposure to the eye can include cataracts, growths, and cancer. However, do not let that make you fear the sun! Our eyes need exposure to natural light every day to maintain our sleep cycles. It’s all about moderation and proper protection – sunglasses with UV-blockers and hats can be the best protection against the sun.

For younger individuals and children, symptoms of vision problems include:

Chronic headaches – are you having inexplicable headaches? Visit your optometrist. An eyecare professional may be able to discover what is causing them.

Poor grades – 25% of children have vision problems. Poor vision may be the cause of poor grades and school performance. Take your child to the optometrist to avoid the pitfalls of learning problems and reading difficulties.

What causes most eye problems in aging individuals?

Overall, weakness of the eye muscle leads to vision issues. Most symptoms of these issues include:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision when wearing glasses
  • Red eyes
  • Burning sensations in the eyes
  • Consistent eye pain
  • Watering
  • Black spots in your vision

Good habits make for better eye health. Always stay UV protected – with good sunglasses and eyeglasses. Getting a lot of sleep, keeping good lighting and resting the eyes will help as well.

As a medical professional in the eye care field, it’s important to stay safe as well! Check out our latest blog on opticians and liability risks>>

Aug 07

Professional Liability Risks for Dietitians and Nutritionists

liability risks for medical professionalsWarhol spoke about 15 minutes of fame as something that everyone desires – however, medical malpractice lawsuits are an unpleasant way to gain that level of attention. It’s been 25 years since dietitians could claim that no dietitian had ever been successfully sued for malpractice – and in that quarter of a century, the risks have only increased.

Since only 3% of all medical malpractice claims go to trial, it’s important to pay attention to your overall malpractice threat level. The cash drain of settling lawsuits is a constant risk that can be somewhat prevented as long as the risks of practicing as a dietitian are properly managed.

High risk areas of Dietetics:

Long term care settings such as prisons and nursing homes have a greater risk due to the likelihood of mortality for the patient, and the potential for mistreatment from other levels of the organization – if the environment is poor or the patient’s other care providers are not performing to the patients needs or with your recommendations, you could wind up getting the blame as the RD.

Unintended weight loss – in these situations, it’s important to record how many times the plan of care was evaluated, how much the family and doctor was involved, and what kind of a defensive plan was taken in response to the patient’s condition

Tube feeding – if a family wishes not to engage in tube feeding when the patient is in need of it, it’s important to record how serious the issue is, explain to the family that the patient could die, and make record of every interaction on the subject. Also, having the physician document the poor prognosis, and the resident’s decline, will keep the communication flowing and protect you from malpractice threats.

Need for liquid food and soft diets – often times families and patients will refuse this treatment, but unfortunately, according to Today’s Dietitian, these waivers are not working in court.

Always remember to document these situations heavily, and with the help of the physician. Make sure that these communication is flowing and paperwork is securely maintained.

While you may be covered by your employer’s insurance, it’s important to get the attention that will prevent your career from suffering. If you have your own insurance, you’re guaranteed professional legal coverage, and your chances of escaping the situation without damage to your record are much improved. Visit CPHIns.com for a free quote on your Nutritionist’s professional liability policy today>>

Aug 05

Simplify Your Life, Simplify Your Mind

simplify your life

Work, School, Family, Kids, Bills, Car, Groceries, Home Repairs… on a daily basis, we deal with most of these issues, in addition to many more. Our lives are a complex, interwoven web of responsibilities and commitments that often encroach on one another, causing us to constantly feel rushed and stressed.

As kids, we couldn’t wait to grow up. We saw adulthood as the age of having all the power in the world at our fingertips, all the control to do what we want, no bedtimes, no vegetables, no piano lessons. Growing up, however, didn’t turn out exactly the way we had hoped as children: instead of freedom, our lives became even more filled with things we HAVE to do, and exponentially-less so with things we WANT to do.

To celebrate Simplify Your Life Week 2014, we chose to come up with ways to simplify our daily commitments and responsibilities, to consolidate the time devoted to taking care of things we HAVE to do, to make more room for the time filled with things we WANT to do.

1. First and foremost, evaluate your life’s commitments. Make a list of 3-5 activities or goals that are most important to you. Once you are satisfied with that list, compare the list to your daily activities, to the commitments that make up your average day. You could even go more in depth, and analyze your entire week. You will probably notice a lot of similarities in the two lists. However, there will also be outliers, activities that did not make your top 3-5 list that are actually taking up a significant amount of your time. Consider how important these activities are to you and think about how you could shrink or eliminate them from your routine.

2. Simplify your daily tasks. Regardless of what kind of activities fill up your day, whether it be in the office, on a construction site, behind the wheel, or at home, our daily lives are made up of responsibilities and associated tasks. We also suffer from the common malady of having too many tasks and not enough time to do them all. Analyze your tasks and their importance, and learn to automate, eliminate or hire help when it gets to be too much.

3. When you simply do not have time for a task, where automating or eliminating is not an option, and you do not have the capacity to hire help, learn to say “No.” As kids, we loved the word and said it constantly. As adults, for some reason, we’ve grown up to be afraid to say it. Maybe it’s a fear of being seen as valueless or lazy, or maybe it’s just our desire to please, most of us do not say no, and therefore take on more tasks than we can handle.

4. Most of all, learn to free up time. Turn off your phone, shut off the computer, and give yourself some time to relax. Eliminating tasks is a great way to free up time. Good luck!

 

Jul 31

The Best Ways to Stay Healthy This Summer

Seasonal Summer Fruits and VegetablesIt’s a hot summer – and nothing is more annoying than being unable to breathe when temperatures range from 80-100+ degrees! Most Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables – however, staying healthy hinges on more than just eating good greens, but eating them when they are full of nutrients. Did you know that in season fruits and vegetables are more nutrient-dense than those imported or out of season domestic products?

Scientific studies also show two major benefits of eating in season fresh foods:

1. Naturally consume higher amounts of antioxidants

2. Reap greater benefits for your body’s detoxifying systems.

There are many benefits to eating fresh produce seasonally. You support your local economy, helping farmers and markets in the area. You also help reduce the carbon footprint since the food is not transported as far!

Also, local produce has fewer premiums are placed on it. You can save money eating more healthy food!

Stay in season, friends. Make these top 7 summer foods a part of a diet that will keep your body flourishing and your mind sharp!

What’s In Season This Summer?

  1. Mangoes – this amazing exotic fruit can both lower cholesterol and clear clogged pores! What a treat!
  2. Cucumbers – great for salads or even making a refreshing water source! Make your complexion glow by slicing one up and soaking in water overnight.
  3. Avocado – benefit from a natural metabolism boost. Makes AMAZING sandwiches and salads. A great source of good fats.
  4. Bell Peppers – use this vitamin C packed food to power up your immune system!
  5. Carrots – treat for your teeth! The perfect summer snack clean enamel and fight off cavity-forming bacteria.
  6. Summer Squash – loaded with fiber and minerals, just a cup of summer squash can significantly increase the quality of your health
  7. Eggplant – rich in antioxidants, this vegetable is most palatable sliced and pan fried in coconut oil.

Get your fill of these powerhouse foods while they’re in season! This is just a short list – but these amazing foods have properties from stress reducing to cancer preventing!

What are some of your favorite summer foods or recipes? Share with us on Facebook!

Jul 24

Are Electronic Health Records A Good Solution for Your Practice?

Electronic Health RecordsElectronic Health Records, or EHRs, are a subject of great technological improvement for more efficient, personalized care at any medical facility.

Sharing this information makes it much easier to discover health plans, get coverage, and provide relevant information to the people who need it. However, privacy rights and laws are ever-changing. At the start of Q3, we feel it’s a good time to delve into the benefits of this upgrade that is taking most practices by storm.

What are EHRs?

EHRs are electronic versions of that paper chart doctors used to consult before treatment. They include: medical histories, notes, symptoms, diagnoses, medications, lab results, vitals, immunizations, diagnostic test reports.

Why should a practice upgrade to EHRs? 

Switching from paper records actually reduces HIPAA violation threats. With the right security system in place, it’s much harder to take a digital file home with you than a paper one.

Additional benefits include: 

  • Improved care quality: EHRs are ideal for hospitals especially – during an accident, a person may not be able to respond to a doctor’s questions. Good records mean that the quality of care improves.
  • Fewer malpractice charges: Information about ALL medications the patient is taking – so if the patient forgets, or neglects to tell the doctor, he can be careful what to prescribe. This reduces malpractice claims in the event of a bad combination of medications prescribed to a patient.
  • No more lost records: EHRs are backed up – so no file is in danger of natural disasters or office calamity. Drench a whole cabinet in coffee during the late shift? No problem when they are all stored electronically.
  • Quicker response and diagnosis: Lab results are available much more quickly, and progress is much easier to share with the patient. Also, since information is shared, it’s less likely that unnecessary tests will be repeated, reducing x-ray exposure and other uncomfortable experiences or lab time wasted.
  • Automated response: EHRs allow medical professionals to remind patients when it’s time to come in, and reduce the amount of time spent filling out records. They can simply be passed electronically from one doctor to another – so your staff time is no longer wasted in mailing and copying records in a HIPAA compliant manner!

Not sure if you want to dive into an EHR system just yet? Learn more about it! And most importantly, make sure that the system you use is HIPAA compliant. Consult our blog on HIPAA compliant email solutions to learn more!

Jul 22

Does Your Nonprofit Need Directors and Officers Insurance?

Volunteer OrganizationNonprofit organizations are a mainstay of our society. Medical professionals of all kinds run charitable work – but may not realize that even volunteer work requires insurance coverage. Nonprofit board members specifically are not aware that they may be held personally liable for the actions of the organization.

The duties of directors and officers are performance related, and can protect against employment practice issues. Some types of claims can include;

Donors – Donor claims are claims resulting from those who make donations to the organization.

Government Organizations – Law violations claims

Third Parties – These can include various lawsuits such as intellectual property and copyright issues.

Employees & Volunteers – Discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, etc.

Members – Claims made to protect the interests of the members.

Beneficiaries/clients – Recipients of the organization’s services may file claims against the organization.

Directors and Officers Insurance acts as a layer of protection, offering volunteer board members security and peace of mind in all their nonprofit ventures.

Nonprofit Directors and Officers Liability Insurance program offers flexible policies to meet the needs of various organization types and liability coverage. Coverage options include:

1.    Directors & Officers Liability

2.    Employment Practices Liability with Third Party coverage

3.    Fiduciary Liability

CPH & Associates recommends that companies find coverage 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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