Friday, February 27, 2009

Wisconsin Hospital May Be Liable for Delaying Credentialing of Osteopathic Physician

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has determined that osteopathic physician Dr. James Merrill may have a claim against Agnesian Healthcare, Inc. for constructively denying him privileges by failing to processing his credentialing application in a timely manner.

At trial, the Court will determine whether or not Agnesian violated a Wisconsin statute requiring equal opportunity for osteopathic physicians in obtaining staff privileges.

Merrill is an OB/GYN who received a job offer from a medical group that was contingent upon the receipt of privileges at St. Agnes Hospital, which is operated by Agnesian. Merrill was told that he failed to meet the certification requirements of the OB/GYN department. Merrill is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ABOG), not the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Merrill was advised by the chief of the medical staff to withdraw his application since a rejected application could show up negatively on an NPDB report. Soon after, he was informed that the department would accept ABOG certification, but by the time his credentials were approved, his job offer was rescinded.

Agnesian requested that the Court dismiss the case, claiming that Merrill could not provide sufficient evidence to a jury to bring forth a possible discrimination case. The Court denied Agnesian's request.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Congress Passes Economic Stimulus Package

Last week’s goal for both the House and the Senate was to pass an economic stimulus package before the Presidents’ Day recess. The House adopted the conference report on H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Friday afternoon, with the Senate completing its vote late Friday evening. No Republicans in the House voted for the bill. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Arlen Specter (R-PA) were the only Republicans to vote for the bill in the Senate, providing the key votes needed to pass the bill. Democrats gained the support of the three Republicans after trimming what they considered to be pork spending from the bill. The final bill includes $782.2 billion in spending, down from the original proposal of over $800 billion.

Health care provisions of the stimulus package include:

  • $24.7 billion in subsidies for the COBRA program, which provides health insurance for the unemployed
  • $86.6 billion in state Medicaid funding
  • $19 billion for health information technology development
  • $10 billion toward health research and new construction projects for the National Institutes of Health
  • $1 billion for disease prevention and wellness programs

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Summit Calls for Greater Diversity and Patient Focus in Medical Education

A panel of participants in a medical education summit sponsored by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation urged medical educators to take advantage of the coming expansion in the number of medical schools to promote diversity in the profession and to push for a greater focus on professionalism in the curriculum.

The panel emphasized the need to address the high medical school debt incurred by students, which may be keeping many competent individuals from considering medicine as a career path.

The panel also pushed for greater emphasis on patient care and safety, teamwork, problem-solving, and public health issues within the traditional medical school curriculum. By doing so, medical students will be more prepared for the needs of the community once they graduate and are practicing physicians.

The full findings of the panel are published in a report titled "Revisiting the Medical School Educational Mission at a Time of Expansion," by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation.

The Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation is a private organization that supports programs to improve the public health focus in medical education and increase the representation of minorities in the health profession.

Source: MedPage Today

Retesting Inactive Physicians Not Required in Most States

According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit and the American Board of Pediatrics, most states do not require physicians to undergo competency testing or retraining before they return to active practice.

The study warns that patient safety may be at risk since physicians may lose diagnostic and procedural skills during their year of inactivity.

Most states allow physicians to restore an active license even though they have not treated a patient for more than a year.

The full study is published in the journal, Pediatrics.

Source: UPI

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

MS.1.20 Task Force to Meet in March

The MS.1.20 Task Force will meet in March to continue revising the standard. The Task Force has been working to determine how prescriptive the standard should be regarding Medical Staff bylaws. The Task Force has been trying to identify details that need to be placed within the bylaws in order to comply with the standard versus details that can placed in separate policy and procedure manuals and documents.

The Joint Commission (TJC) indefinitely delayed implementation of the revised version of MS.1.20 that was released in June 2007. Therefore, the 2008 version of MS.1.20 will remain in effect (Standard MS.01.01 in the 2009 manual) until a new revision is implemented.

TJC has issued the following statement on how the current standard will be addressed in surveys:

"There is an indefinite moratorium on the implementation of Element of Performance 19 of the current MS.1.20/MS.01.01.01. Therefore, the Joint Commission survey assesses whether each of the topics identified in EPs 1 through 18 are addressed in the bylaws, and whether necessary detail is addressed in either the bylaws, or rules and regulations, or policies. The survey does not assess how much of the detail is placed in rules and regulations or policies, rather than in bylaws; that decision is left to each medical staff and governing body. "

The Task Force first convened in January 2008. There are are 19 members on the MS.1.20 Task Force, including NAMSS Past-President Carol Ostermann, CPMSM, CPCS.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Daschle Withdraws HHS Secretary Nomination

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has withdrawn his nomination to become the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle had come under scrutiny in the past week over $146,000 in unpaid back taxes.

The back taxes were traced to to filing errors made between 2005 and 2007 involving charitable deductions and the use of a car and driver from an organization chaired by Daschle. Daschle said that he voluntarily filed amended returns after learning of the errors in December.

In addition to serving as HHS Secretary, Daschle was also selected to lead the White House Office of Health Reform, a new office created by President Obama.

The White House has not announced a nominee to replace Daschle.