News & Information
When Docs Sue Their Own Hospital
Friday, January 30, 2015 09:30 PM

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that a medical staff has standing to sue its hospital board and that the medical staff bylaws constitute "an enforceable contract between members of a medical staff and a hospital."

"This is an important victory for all physicians and one that we should celebrate," said Donald Jacobs, MD, president of the Minnesota Medical Association. "An independent, autonomous medical staff serves a critical role in facilitating and maintaining quality patient care in a hospital setting and should have a strong voice in the decision-making process regarding that care."

"Our position has always been that a hospital must be allowed to govern itself, particularly in the critical areas of patient safety and care,” a hospital spokesperson reported. "We believe that maintaining such a clear line of authority is consistent with the law.”  Or, as the hospital's attorney put it: "We've basically been hijacked by this group that has sued us."

IRS to Start Collecting Fines for not Having Health Insurance
Thursday, January 15, 2015 03:41 PM

The cost of being uninsured in America is going up significantly next year for millions of people.  It's the first year all taxpayers have to report to the Internal Revenue Service whether they had health insurance for the previous year, as required under President Barack Obama's law. Those who were uninsured face fines, unless they qualify for one of about 30 exemptions, most of which involve financial hardships.

Going without health insurance has always involved financial risks. You could have an accident and end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills. Now, you may also get fined. In a decision that allowed Obama's law to advance, the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the coverage requirement and its accompanying fines were a constitutionally valid exercise of Congress' authority to tax.

In 2015, all taxpayers have to report to the IRS on their health insurance status the previous year. Most will check a box. It's also when the IRS starts collecting fines from some uninsured people, and deciding if others qualify for exemptions.

2014 Health Data Breaches 42% of All Major Data Breaches
Thursday, January 15, 2015 03:39 PM

When it comes to health data breaches, 2014 was a milestone year. Healthcare organizations accounted for about 42 percent of all major data breaches reported this year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

2014 began with the FBI’s Cyber Division warning industry that healthcare systems and medical devices were at risk for increased cyber intrusions “due to mandatory transition from paper to electronic health records, lax cybersecurity standards, and a higher financial payout for medical records in the black market.” However, the concerns of law enforcement that the healthcare industry was not as resilient to cyber intrusions compared to the financial and retail sectors apparently went unheeded.

Patients’ Expectations of the Benefits and Harms of Medicine
Thursday, January 15, 2015 03:37 PM

A recent study demonstrates that unrealistic patient expectations of the benefits and harms of interventions can influence decision making and may be contributing to increasing intervention uptake and health care costs.

Investigators sought to systematically review all studies that have quantitatively assessed patients’ expectations of the benefits and/or harms of any treatment, test, or screening test.  They conducted a comprehensive search in 4 databases (MEDLINE, Embase, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, PsycINFO) up to June 2013, with no language or study type restriction. They also ran cited reference searches of included studies and contacted experts and study authors.

Seniors’ Wait for a Medicare Appeal Is Cut in Half, Providers Will Wait Instead
Thursday, January 15, 2015 03:31 PM

The federal office responsible for appeals for Medicare coverage has cut in half the waiting time for beneficiaries who are requesting a hearing before a judge.  The progress follows an announcement last January that officials were going to work through a crushing backlog by moving beneficiaries to the front of the line and suspending hearings on cases from hospitals, doctors, and other providers for at least two years.

About 900,000 appeals are awaiting decisions, with most filed by hospitals, nursing homes, medical device suppliers and other healthcare providers, said Jason Green, OMHA's program and policy director. The wait times for health providers' cases have doubled since last year, and are nearly four times longer than the processing time for beneficiary appeals.

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