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November 1, 2009

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  • Claims and insurance premiums predicted to rise in 2010

    Medical malpractice claims will moderately increase in 2010, partly because claims increase when people are struggling through a tough economy and money is tight. Your med-mal premiums or self-insurance risks are going to increase also, maybe in double digits, reversing the more positive trends of recent years.
  • Sell yourself to carriers for best deals

    Getting the best premiums in 2010 will require that you showcase your data and market them to potential carriers, says Melinda S. Malecki, JD, a risk manager with the Chicago firm of Lebow Malecki. She serves as risk manager at one Chicago hospital and purchases insurance for two hospitals.
  • 'Never events' may increase claims in coming years

    The recent action by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) declaring some medical errors "never events" events that should never happen could prompt an increase in malpractice claims, says Erik A. Johnson, FCAS, MAAA, assistant director and actuary with Aon Global Risk Consulting in Chicago.
  • Co-defendants don't have to fight each other

    Things can get ugly in malpractice litigation, and the antagonism can be ramped up even higher when the hospital and a physician are co-defendants.
  • Defendant infighting benefits plaintiffs

    Nothing warms the heart of a plaintiff's attorney more than seeing the co-defendants turn on each other.
  • Require enough med-mal coverage from doctors

    When a co-defendant starts saying everything is the hospital's fault, it might be because you have deeper pockets. Ward off some of that finger-pointing by making sure the doctors have enough coverage to pay the tab themselves.
  • Think ahead, act early to avoid conflicts

    Lewis A. Bartell, JD, a partner with Kaplan Belsky Ross Bartell in Garden City, NY, says he has seen co-defendants turn on each other many times in his 20 years of litigating medical malpractice and negligence actions, representing hospitals, nurses, physicians, and other health care providers. He says risk managers should consider potential difficulties with a co-defendant as soon as a case arises.
  • Hiring more nurses can save money in the long run

    It may seem counterintuitive to suggest hiring more nurses when a health care provider already is struggling with tight budgets and a bad economy, but some experts say increased nursing staff can yield significant patient safety improvements that will more than pay for the personnel costs. The key, they say, is to look beyond the initial expenditure to the savings that accrue downstream.
  • Nursing union sues over required flu shots

    Mandatory flu shots spark a backlash from health care employees every year, and the publicity over the H1N1 flu virus has prompted more health systems to require vaccination. Nurses in Washington state are resisting, with a union representing 16,000 registered nurses filing a federal lawsuit against MultiCare Health System in Seattle for implementing a mandatory flu vaccination policy.
  • More TV ads from plaintiffs' attorneys

    Brace yourself for more lawsuits. Television advertisements soliciting plaintiffs for medical malpractice lawsuits increased from about 10,150 ads in 2004 to more than 156,000 ads in 2008 nearly a 1,400% increase in four years, according to a new study.
  • HIPAA Regulatory Alert: Are you ready for the new breach notification rule?

    Now that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released an interim final rule implementing the breach notification provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, risk managers and compliance officers have been huddling with their teams (including their attorneys) to determine exactly how it will impact them and what steps they must take to be in compliance.
  • HIPAA Regulatory Alert: Who says 'No good deed goes unpunished'?

    You'd think that any hospital in the country would be pleased to have its nurses come forward when they notice a physician practicing in a manner that is less than optimal for his or her patients. In fact, a number of states even allow the sharing of protected health information if it's necessary for such whistle-blowers to state their case.
  • HIPAA Regulatory Alert: Wellness incentives fine; no penalties for opt-outs

    Hospitals are boosting incentives for wellness programs, with the hopes that healthier employees will have lower medical claims and better productivity. That push for greater incentives is likely to continue despite a recent advisory notice cautioning employers not to penalize employees who choose not to participate.
  • HIPAA Regulatory Alert: HIPAA security enforcement now under HHS OCR

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is shifting enforcement authority of the HIPAA security rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to the HHS Office of Civil Rights. Since 2003, the Office of Civil Rights has overseen enforcement of the HIPAA privacy rule, which protects the confidentiality of patients' health information.
  • Legal Review & Commentary: Hospital's negligent administration of sodium results in brain damage: $5M verdict

    A woman presented at the emergency department (ED) complaining of dehydration. She was noticeably confused and had difficulty keeping her balance. The staff determined that she suffered from chronic low sodium. A physician ordered the woman be administered 125 cc sodium every hour. A nurse administered a liter of sodium in less than an hour, causing the woman's serum sodium to increase by 23 mEqs.
  • Legal Review & Commentary: Post-surgical bleeding leads to brain damage

    A woman underwent a laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy. Following the procedure, she was administered a painkiller, and her respiration was assisted by an oxygen mask. A couple of hours after the surgery, her blood pressure and pulse rate began to decline. Later, a hospital employee noted that the woman's blood pressure was abnormally low, but that her pulse had increased and her abdomen was distended. However, no action was taken.