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February 1st, 2016

View Archives Issues

  • Give special attention to the ED, or face significant liability

    It can happen in any hospital: A patient comes to the emergency department and is determined to need psychiatric care, so a bed is requested. The patient waits, and waits, and waits. Three days later, the patient is still in the emergency department, and staff members realize he has a blood clot and pulmonary embolism that were prompted by immobility during the long wait.

  • Hospital revamps its security after psychiatric patient kills tech

    A California state psychiatric hospital has improved the personal security systems for its staff members and revamped how it assesses potentially violent patients, with the changes coming five years after a technician was killed on the hospital grounds by a patient.

  • The Risk of HIPAA Violations and Messaging Apps

    Only 8% of healthcare institutions prohibit consumer messaging apps for employee communication, which risks violating HIPAA.

  • Fear of repercussions different among nurses and doctors, report says

    Efforts to encourage error reporting and voicing concerns about patient safety always have faced the hurdle of staff and physicians fearing there will be repercussions. Risk managers and patient safety officers have tried to address that fear in various ways, but new research suggests a “one-size-fits-all” approach won’t work because doctors and nurses have significantly different fears.

  • OIG’s 2016 Work Plan includes HIPAA and provider-based clinics

    The 2016 Work Plan from the OIG of the HHS offers risk managers insight into what areas of compliance and potential liability will be the hot topics this year, and there are concerns in several arenas.

  • ASCs, lab billing also in OIG’s sights

    ASCs and clinical laboratories are among the many healthcare operations targeted for close oversight in the 2016 Work Plan from the OIG of the HSS.

  • University of Rochester Medical Center settles after HIPAA breaches

    After a data breach, the University of Rochester Medical Center announced a settlement, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, JD, announced recently.

  • Undiagnosed bacterial meningitis in infant results in brain damage, verdict in excess of $10 million

    News: In 2009, an 11-month-old >male went to the emergency depart-ment of a children’s hospital showing symptoms of a fever and a respiratory infection. The attending physician diagnosed the infection and sent him home. The infant returned to the same hospital the following day with an increased fever and an abnormal respiratory rate and heartbeat. The hospital treated the infant for bronchitis, and his condition improved before he was released the same day. The infant returned to the hospital a third day in a row and waited 90 minutes before he was seen by a physician. The physician ordered tests that revealed the boy was suffering from bacterial meningitis. Three hours after the test was ordered, the infant was administered antibiotics to treat the meningitis. However, by the time the bacterial meningitis was under control, the infant had suffered brain damage.

  • Failure to clear airway in a timely manner leads to permanent brain damage, $20 million plus verdict

    News: In 2005, a woman entered a hospital with an existing infection in her mouth. Physicians determined that the woman needed an emergency tracheostomy to ensure no blockage to her airway would occur during treatment. The tracheostomy was successful, and her infection was treated with antibiotics. On the sixth day of her hospital stay, after her infection had subsided, her sister, a visiting guest, called for help because the tracheostomy location was bleeding and the breathing tube and blood were blocking the patient’s airway. The nurses did not have experience with tracheostomy tubes, and eventually an anesthesiologist cleared her airway, but the patient suffered brain damage from the lack of oxygen to her brain during the time her airway was obstructed. The brain damage resulted in the woman being disabled, unable to control the muscle functions of her body, confined to a wheelchair, and being in need of the care of others for the rest of her life. The woman filed a medical negligence claim against the hospital, and she alleged the hospital was negligent for the acts of employees that resulted in the tracheostomy tube obstructing her breathing and the employees’ failure to clear her airway in a timely manner. The hospital argued that the sister manipulated the tracheostomy tube, which caused the tracheostomy tube to be out of position and thus caused the ensuing injuries. The jury agreed with the woman and found the hospital was negligent for allowing the woman’s airway to be blocked and thus causing the brain injury that occurred before her airway was unobstructed. The jury awarded the woman more than $20 million in damages. It was determined the woman was entitled to approximately $1.7 million for past emotional distress and medical expenses; $4.5 million for disfigurement and loss of normal life; and more than $14 million for future medical expenses, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. In a lawsuit that lasted nearly a decade, the woman died the day prior to the jury verdict being reached in her favor, and her estate will receive the proceeds of the award.