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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on January 5th, 2014

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review


Rivera v. Compton
The Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments soon in a case challenging the state’s 10 year statute of repose for medical malpractice claims. Last year, the El Paso appellate court held that the statute, which sets a hard deadline for malpractice cases, violated the Open Courts provision of the Texas Constitution for minors under 8-years-old. The appellants have argued that public policy favors having a definitive cut-off for claims. The plaintiff  has argued that because minors do not have the legal capacity to sue, the statute of repose deprives them from seeking redress for their injuries if they do not turn 18 within 10 years of the incident at issue.


Obama Administration Responds to Nuns’ Lawsuit Over Birth Control Rule
The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to reject a lawsuit filed by an order of Roman Catholic nuns challenging a mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control. The administration has argued that the requirement does not burden the nuns’ right to practice their religion because they can opt out from the requirement by certifying they have a religions objection.

Many Newly Insured Face Challenge Finding Physician
Many of the estimated 36 million Americans expected to obtain coverage under the Affordable Care Act may have difficulty finding a physician, or face long wait times when they do, according to the director of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Several of the newly insured will be covered through Medicaid, which many primary care doctors and dentists do not accept. More than 20% of Americans live in an area with an insufficient number of physicians, although the shortage could be alleviated in the long run as more mid-level providers begin offering routine treatment.

CHRISTUS St. Catherine to Transition to Post-Acute Care Hospital
CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital will transition into the Katy area’s first long-term rehabilitative center over the next year. Houston Methodist, which is acquiring a majority interest in the CHRISTUS St. Catherine, is expanding Houston Methodist West Hospital, where it will offer the majority of emergency care and surgical procedures

Task Force Announces Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines
Adults aged 55 to 80 who smoked a pack or more per day over the past 30 years should undergo annual low-dose CT scans to screen for lung cancer, according to the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force. The task force estimates that between 8,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths could be prevented each year if its recommendations are followed.

Study Suggests Expanding Health Coverage Increases ER Use
Expanding the number of individuals with health insurance could result in a significant increase in costly emergency room visits, according to a new study. An 18-month study that followed 25,000 low-income Oregonians who recently obtained Medicaid coverage found that ER visits increased by 40% among the newly insured.

First Study of ED Falls Conducted
The number of falls at a Colorado hospital decreased by over 16% after completion of the nation’s first study of fall risks specific to emergency department patients. Nationwide fall risk studies have not separated emergency departments, where the population skews younger, from other units. The study found that the average age of patients who fell was 46 and 44% of those who fell were intoxicated.

Study Shows Link Between Fatigue, Clinical Decision Regret
Fatigued nurses are more likely to express concern that they made a wrong decision, according to a study published in the American Journal of Critical Care. The study’s authors recommend that employers use relief staff to provide completely relieved work breaks and allow for strategically planned nap times.

Pregnant Nurse Claims She Was Fired For Refusing Flu Vaccine
A Pennsylvania nurse says she was fired for refusing to take a flu vaccine while pregnant, noting she had concerns over the limited studies of the vaccine’s effects on pregnant women. The nurse acknowledged that the CDC recommends pregnant women obtain a flu shot, but believes her request to wear a face-mask as an alternative should have been approved.

Concerns Over New Medical Billing Code Rollout Raised
The troubled launch of HealthCare.Gov has some concerned that the planned October 2014 start date for a new medical billing code system could also prove challenging. The new set of codes, which are used by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers, will allow for greater detail in describing illnesses, injuries and treatment procedures. Some are concerned that hospitals already grappling with adapting to electronic health records and the Affordable Care Act could be overwhelmed and are pushing for more testing or a delay in implementation.

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