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Cyber Discrimination: A New Frontier of Liability for Healthcare Providers Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Segal, MD, JD, FACS and Michael Sacopulos, JD   
Sunday, 01 May 2011 12:56

Pause for a second, stop reading this article and close your eyes. Imagine living life as one of the 1.3 million blind people in the United States. Think about how you would access information exchanged over the Internet. For 60-year old New York resident Mindy Jacobsen, this is her reality. She has been blind since birth.

Thanks to the American for Disabilities Act (“ADA”) it is easier for Mindy to navigate around New York City. She can walk sidewalk to sidewalk, hop on a train and live a fully functional life, except when it comes to navigating through the internet.

“You go to a hospital’s website and want to get the pre-op information there, but it isn’t available and if it is, it is in a format we can’t read. Then we have to ask people to read it to us and it becomes such a big deal,” Jacobsen said.

Mindy uses a screen reader to read web pages to herself. It is a helpful tool that allows her to navigate the World Wide Web.

“We have computers that take advantage of the speech kit that is built into all computers. Instead of using that speech kit to show a movie, which it certainly can do, we have a program that uses that speech kit to read the screen. So every time the screen refreshes, the software sends the information to the speech kit and it is read aloud to us,“ Jacobsen said.

Section 508, added to the Rehabilitation Act in 1986 and amended in 1992 and 1998, requires Federal agencies to make their website accessible to people with disabilities.  Outside of Federal agency websites, the U.S. government policy is to encourage self-regulation of the Internet wherever possible.  Only if self-regulation is insufficient does government involvement become necessary.

Self-regulation hasn’t fared well for a handful of public companies nationwide. The most famous and commonly cited case was litigated several years ago, when the National Federation of the Blind filed a suit against the retail giant, TargetThe plaintiffs alleged Target's website was not compliant within the outlines of the ADA.   National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corp., 452 F. Supp. 2d 946 (N.D. Cal. 2006) asserted the requirements that Title III of the ADA imposes on places of public accommodation also applies to e-commerce websites.  The plaintiffs were blind individuals who claimed the Target website discriminated against them since the website did not work well with screen reading software.  The case was the first lawsuit applying the ADA to a website that survived a motion to dismiss.  The Target case was recently settled out of court for reportedly six million dollars. Quite a sum. 

To Finish the Article, CLICK HERE.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 May 2011 16:48
 
And the Winners are… Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 16:16

Recently the South Florida Business Journal announced their 2011 Ultimate CEO Awards for Palm Beach County. There were ten honorees; four were healthcare leaders. According to the SFBJ, top CEO's from the Palm Beach area medical community are:

Scott H. Adams, CEO, Integrity Tracking LLC dba MobileHelp - The company's website describes the  firm as a "healthcare technology company that developed and distributes the MobileHelp medical alert system...to provide emergency assistance to users while in their homes or away."

Davide M. Carbone, CEO, St. Mary's Medical Center and the Children's Hospital at St. Mary's

Cathy Cohn, president/CEO, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County

Jerry Fedele, president and CEO, Boca Raton Regional Hospital

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 16:24
 
Teen Drug Abuse - Preventive Role of Healthcare Providers Print E-mail
Written by By Ramsey Bradley, M.S.   
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 15:33

Drug abuse and addiction are a major burden to society, with economic costs alone estimated to exceed $600 billion annually in the United States (ONDCP 2004; Rehm et al. 2009; CDC 2007). This includes health and crime-related costs, and losses in productivity. As staggering as these numbers are, they provide a limited perspective of the devastating consequences of this disease for individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole.

While there are no statistics available to show the extent teens play in the overall economic costs, recent statistics show that illicit drug use is declining among US teenagers.  This sounds good until you look at the fact that prescription drug abuse has risen sharply.  Between 1999 and 2006, the US Department of Health and Human Services reports, the number of surveyed 12 to 17-year-olds who reported nonmedical use of a psychotherapeutic medication with the previous year increased by more than 60%.  In 2005, an estimated 1.4 million US emergency department (ED) visits were related to substance abuse.  Abuse of prescription drugs accounted for 37% of these cases.  Of these overmedication numbers, teens 12 to 17 years old accounted for more than 13,000 ED visits per year.

The statistics listed above emphasize the importance for clinicians, especially emergency medicine providers to appreciate the magnitude of prescription drug abuse among adolescents so that overdoses or chronic abuse can be identified and treated.  Although data involving emergency PAs and NPs are not readily available, fewer than 40% of physicians receive formal medical school training in recognizing prescription drug abuse.  According to the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), 43% of physicians neglect to ask about prescription drug abuse during the patient history.  Clinicians who provide emergency care, and primary care providers, are in a position to help identify and assist in treatment with the growing abuse of prescription medications by teenage patients.  Everyone in the medical profession needs to be more informed of recent trends in drug abuse and treatment resources.

Many agencies and personnel in this country are working diligently to stop the growth of substance abuse of any kind.  If we all work to keep informed and regularly reach out to resources that can provide timely information. We can save many teens that will die young or enter adulthood with debilitating medical problems and/or addiction.

Mr. Ramsey Bradley,Founder/Facilitator of the Adolescent Drug Awareness Program (www.adolescentdrugawareness.com), has a Masters Degree in Psychology/Counseling and has more than 20 years of experience working with teens and their families.  His experience includes Private Practice, Public Mental Health and Substance Abuse areas of interest.  Throughout his many years of experience, he has observed a huge gap in programs that address the specific needs of today's teens and their families.  The Adolescent Drug Awareness Program is the result of his findings, many years of ongoing research and dedication into finding successful strategies for both teens and their families.

 
Florida Docs Monitor Pending Legislation Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Wednesday, 20 April 2011 11:31

At the state and federal level, legislation is pending that, if passed, could have a significant impact on Florida providers.  

In Tallahassee Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R- Fort Lauderdale has introduced a bill to fight staged automobile accidents and excessive PIP claims.  Consumer advocates and the insurance industry support the bill.  See Strange Bedfellows: Insurance Industry Unites with Consumer.  The FMA and the Florida Chiropractors Association have voiced their opposition to the pending legislation. The concern is that the proposed new law would make it easy for insurers to delay payments and deny PIP claims to legitimate providers.  In other words, "this new law would cast too large a net thus ensnaring honest docs already squeezed by declining healthcare reimbursements," stated a leading physician advocate. Adds Glen Ged, Ellis, Ged & Bodden "All legitimate parties want to see fraud out of the system -- the stated aim of these bills. However, many provisions would only open the door to greater insurance company profits at the expense of providers."  An editorial in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, insists that the proposed new law is not good news for consumers either.  See PIP Legislation Bad News for Docs and Citizens.  However according to a recent article in the Daily Business Review, the Insurance Information Institute estimates Floridians have paid an extra $1 Billion in auto insurance premiums due to bogus claims.  

Meanwhile, in D.C. the Help Efficient Accessible Low-cost Timely Healthcare Act of 2011 would cap contingent attorney's fees in medical malpractice cases.  Sponsored by US Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Georgia, the bill also includes a cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages.  The goal of this legislation is "To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system" according to GovTrack.us.  The CBO estimates savings of $35 per American over five years.  Opponents of the legislation assert that the caps, while appearing consumer-friendly, are actually bad for consumers.  In an article published recently in the Daily Business Review, Brian Wolfman, a law professor at Georgetown University stated that the bill "...fixes non-economic damages at $250,000 forever, regardless of the impact of inflation" and that this illustrates that the cap "...is not a genuine attempt to gauge the impact on real people's lives..." Predictably Democrats are against this legislation.  Ironically they cite the sanctity of free markets and states' rights (two subjects typically championed by Republicans) as reasons to oppose the bill. 

Stay tuned.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 May 2011 08:58
 
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan Unveils GOP Resolution Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 15:37

According to Money.CNN.com:

"Starting in 2022, the House GOP resolution would convert Medicare -- the health care program for seniors -- into a voucher program, or what Ryan calls a premium-support model.  Under such a system, seniors would choose from a Medicare-approved list of private insurance plans and the cost of their chosen plan would be subsidized in part by the federal government."

And with regard to Medicaid reform, CNN.com reported that

"The resolution would also convert the federal government's payments for Medicaid -- the health program for the poor and disabled -- into a block grant to be allocated among states. Currently, federal payments to states are determined by a formula."

 Read the complete Money.CNN.com story HERE.

The GOP Path to Prosperity by Paul Ryan was posted to the Wall Street Journal website on Monday (April 4) evening.  In that op-ed piece, Representative Ryan said:

"The open-ended, blank-check nature of the Medicare subsidy threatens the solvency of this critical program and creates inexcusable levels of waste,"  

He also stated:

"The new health-care law is a fiscal train wreck."

Click the link to see the Paul Ryan video: 

Free Healthcare is Costly

"If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free," states House Representative, Paul Ryan (R), Wisconsin.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 April 2011 09:38
 
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