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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on July 2nd, 2013

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review

CASES

Williamsburg Care Company v. Acosta
Former residents of a nursing home filed suit alleging they were subject to abuse and neglect at the facility. The nursing home sought to compel arbitration agreements that did not comport with Chapter 74’s requirement that arbitration clauses be printed in 10-point, bold font and signed by an attorney. The nursing home argued that these requirements were inapplicable because the state statute was preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, a law that promotes arbitration by limiting states from enacting certain restrictions on arbitration clauses. The San Antonio appellate court found that an exception to FAA preemption for statutes that regulate the business of insurance was applicable to Chapter 74 because it was enacted to combat escalating malpractice insurance rates and held the arbitration agreements were not enforceable.

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center v. King
A patient who sustained injuries allegedly sustained when she fell from her hospital bed filed suit alleging that the hospital failed to use all required restraints and mechanisms to prevent her from falling. The hospital sought dismissal on the basis of sovereign immunity and the patient argued immunity was waived under an exception that permits lawsuits against government entities in cases involving the use of tangible property. The Houston appellate court found that the patient’s claim was that nursing staff were negligent in their decision not to raise two of the side rails, an issue of medical judgment, not the use of tangible property, and that sovereign immunity was not waived.

PM Management Trinity NC v. Klumets
The family of a nursing home resident filed suit against the home alleging medical negligence and illegal discharge of the resident in retaliation for complaints she made regarding her care. The family’s expert reports were found deficient by the trial court and all claims except for the retaliation claim were dismissed. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s refusal to dismiss the retaliation claim, concluding that it was not a health care liability claim because the only injury at issue was purely economic. The Texas Supreme Court reversed, holding that all the claims were subject to Chapter 74 because they revolved around the same facts at issue in the medical negligence claim.

NEWS

Universal Decolonization Proves Effective in Controlling MRSA
Providing antibacterial soap and ointment to all patients in intensive-care units can help control the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a new study suggests. Researchers compared three MRSA prevention strategies among a group of 74,000 ICU patients and found that providing antibacterial soap to all patients proved more effective than conventional infection control efforts or providing the antibacterial products only to patients with MRSA.

Dispute Over Access to Same-Sex Partner Leads to Hospital Confrontation
A dispute between the son of a hospital patient and patient’s same-sex partner who had medical power of attorney led to a confrontation that culminated in the police escorting the partner from the hospital. The patient’s family has contacted the ACLU and is now reportedly exploring its options. Federal authorities are also investigating the incident.

EMT Tests Google Glass as Training DeviceGoogle Glasses
A Maltese EMT is among the 8,000 people chosen to test out Google Glass, a device that can display information on a pair of eyeglass lenses and record images. The EMT has received permission to test the glasses with students and expects they could prove beneficial by allowing emergency responders to receive information without taking their eyes off the person in need of assistance.

Antimicrobial Copper Could Prove Cost Effective for Infection Control
An economic evaluation of copper alloy touch surfaces found that an investment in replacing six frequently-touched surfaces in an ICU with antimicrobial copper equivalents can pay off in as little as two months. A recent study found that replacing surfaces with antimicrobial copper was associated with a 58% reduction in healthcare-associated infections.

Study Questions Value of Patient Surveys
A study of 31 hospitals that participated in patient satisfaction surveys found that patient satisfaction did not correlate with rates of hospital compliance with the CMS’ Surgical Care Improvement Project’s process measures or employees’ opinions regarding the culture at these hospitals.

What The High Court’s Affirmative Action Decision Might Mean To Medical Schools
The Supreme Court’s decision to return a case involving medical school admissions and affirmative action back to a lower court for reconsideration has left opponents and supporters of these admissions policies cautiously optimistic. Several health care organizations signed an amicus brief in support of permitting race to be considered as a factor in admissions, arguing that having a diverse body of medical professionals is beneficial to patients. Critics argue that these admissions policies can be detrimental to the reputations of black and Latino physicians and believe a completely merit-based system is best for patients and practitioners.

Impact of Health Law on Costs Reaches Beyond Premium Pricetags
As key changes brought about by federal health law reforms take effect next year younger individuals are more likely to be worse off in the insurance market, while older individuals may benefit from rules prohibiting discrimination against pre-existing conditions. The reforms will also place limits on high-deductible, individual insurance policies selected by some to reduce monthly premiums. Starting in January, new policies must cap annual out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and co-insurance, to $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families.

If No Medicaid Expansion, Low-Income State Residents Won’t Face Mandate
A recently published rule will exempt low-income individuals who live in states that have opted not to expand Medicaid from being required to purchase health insurance.

‘Do not resuscitate’ vs. ‘allow natural death’
Families of critically ill patients are more likely to forgo resuscitative efforts when asked if they wish to “allow natural death,” rather than authorize health care providers to “not resuscitate.” While use of the phrase “natural death” appears to make families more comfortable, some caution that this phrase leaves some ambiguity between an order not to resuscitate and authorization for “comfort measures only.”

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