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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on March 31st, 2014

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review

CASES

Gentilello v. University of Texas Southwestern Health Systems
A physician filed a false claims act suit on behalf of the state and federal governments against a medical center he alleged had been billing for an attending physician’s direct supervision in instances where no supervising physician was present or was only minimally involved in certain procedures. The physician also filed suit claiming he had been retaliated against by the medical center. The medical center settled the false claim act lawsuits and sought dismissal of the retaliation claim on the basis of sovereign immunity. The physician argued the medical center had waived its immunity by the terms of the false claims act settlements. The Houston appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the case, finding that language in the settlement agreement did not clearly and unambiguously waive sovereign immunity.

SJ Medical Center v. Walker
The family of a motor vehicle accident victim who presented to a hospital with chest pain filed suit after his death from cardiac complications alleging the nursing staff should have intervened to prevent the patient from being discharged. The hospital objected to the family’s Chapter 74 report on the basis that it was conclusory. The Houston appellate court agreed, noting that the family’s expert did not explain how the nursing staff should have recognized that a physician’s discharge order was premature, or what the staff should have done if it knew the order was premature.

Bioderm Skin Care v. Sok
A woman who alleged she was burned while undergoing a laser hair removal treatment filed suit against the facility and its physician owner. The defendants sought dismissal on the basis that the plaintiff did not file a Chapter 74 expert report. She argued that her lawsuit was not a health care liability claim. The Texas Supreme Court held that her case was a health care liability claim, noting that there is a rebuttable presumption that a claim is a health care liability claim when it implicates care received from a health care provider.

NEWS

Surgeons to Attempt Suspended Animation Procedure
Surgeons at a Pittsburg hospital are prepared to attempt a procedure that could provide physicians more time to treat trauma patients by suspending cellular activity. The procedure involves replacing blood with a cold saline solution that induces hypothermia and stops most cellular activity. Pigs that underwent the procedure during animal trials have made a full recovery after being suspended.

Congress May Delay ICD-10 Launch Date
Although the Obama administration has declared it will not delay the launch of ICD-10, Congress may intervene to delay implementation of the new comprehensive coding system. The US House of Representatives passed a bill in late March that would delay the implementation of ICD-10 for one year. Groups opposed to ICD-10 fear it will cause an unnecessary burden for providers.

Patients’ Blood Pressure Runs Higher When Checked by Physicians
Blood pressure recordings taken by physicians are often significantly higher than when the same patient is tested by nurses, according to an analysis by the University of Exeter Medical School. The phenomenon, known as the “white coat effect,” is thought to result from patients’ physical responses to being assessed by a physician.

1 in 25 Patients Contracted Hospital Infections in 2011
About 1 in 25 patients contracted a hospital infection in 2011, according to the results of a CDC survey of 183 hospitals across 10 states. Among the 721,800 infections, 75,000 were ultimately fatal. The most common infection was the bacterium Clostridium difficile, which kills approximately 14,000 people in the United States each year. In another CDC report, the agency announced that central line-associated bloodstream infections and infections from common surgical procedures declined by 44% and 20% respectively, while the number of catheter-associated urinary tract infections rose 3% between 2009 and 2012.

Study Questions Accuracy of Braden Score for Predicting Bedsores in ICU
An analysis of the electronic health records from almost 8,000 ICU patients has led researchers to question the accuracy of the Braden Scale to rate patients’ pressure ulcer in an intensive care setting. The study’s authors suggested that the scale may not sufficiently reflect the characteristics of ICU patients, but noted that the scale may still be a valuable tool in other health care settings.

CDC: Overuse of Antibiotics Placing Patients at Risk
The overuse of antibiotics is making many drugs less effective, leading to the development of superbugs, the CDC has warned. The agency noted that overprescribing antibiotics can also sicken patients by making them vulnerable to other types of infections, such as the bacterium Clostridium difficile.

Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Contraceptive Case
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week in Hobby Lobby’s challenge to mandate requiring employers to pay for employee’s contraceptives. The company has expressed that it objects to certain forms of contraceptives, such as intrauterine devices, that its owners consider a form of abortion.

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