The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General recently issued a report that included very troubling conclusions. The report was based on a random sampling of the billing of 780 Medicare beneficiaries who were treated in October 2008. The findings concluded that 1 in 7 Medicare patients suffered harm because of their medical care while hospitalized. As explained in this Palm Beach post article, the report concluded that: (M)edical care is contributing to around 15,000 deaths per month nationwide and costing taxpayers about $4.4 billion a year. The report called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to toughen penalties for hospitals that provide substandard care rather than rewarding them with increased billings. The report also included recommendations to reduce the number of preventable medical errors and negative outcomes, including: following hand-washing protocols more careful administration of medications better training for medical students prior to allowing them to inserting central lines into chemotherapy patients Easily preventable medical errors are some of the most frustrating for patients and their loved ones. When a serious infection could have been prevented if health care personnel had simply followed hand-washing procedures, it’s difficult to turn the other cheek. Hopefully this report’s findings and recommendations will encourage hospitals to better enforce preventative measures already in place and to adopt new measures to further ensure the safety of patients. Doing so will result in better outcomes for patients and less medical malpractice lawsuits for the hospitals. A win-win for everyone involved! Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handlesÂ workersâ€™ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 346-8780 and email@example.com. Related articles Hospital Errors Plague Medicare Patients (newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com) Medical Errors Kill 15,000 Medicare Patients a Month (aolhealth.com) Read Gov’t Report Showing 1 in 7 Hospitalized Medicare Beneficiaries Harmed by Care (propublica.org)
The City of Chicago has changed the way that it handles civil rights lawsuits brought against Chicago police officers, by taking the cases to trial rather than settling them before trial. This new policy has resulted in a large reduction of these types of lawsuits, as explained in a recent Chicago Sun-Times article: This year, the city anticipates that 50 percent fewer police misconduct cases will be filed than in 2009. The share of cases resolved through settlements has fallen from about 67 percent in 2009 to about 24 percent this year through the end of September, officials said. However, whether the new policy will result in reduced costs for the City over the long term remains to be seen. According to Karen Seimetz, the city’s first assistant corporation counsel, the new treatment of “small” cases (those valued at less than $100,000) will be a big money saver for the City: Small cases have been farmed out to outside lawyers for a bulk fee of $35,000 a case, plus a $15,000 bonus in the event of a trial win. That comes out to a little more than $5 million per year over the next two years to the outside lawyers, plus any bonuses that are paid out to them, Seimetz said. Those legal costs are expected to go down in future years as fewer cases are filed, she said. However, as explained in the article, according to one local attorney that formula doesn’t take into account attorneys’ fees that the City may be required to pay in the event it loses a case after trial: He said he was willing to settle one lawsuit for $10,000, but the city refused, the case went to trial and a jury awarded his client $7,500. “They kept saying ‘no settlement, no settlement,” Jackowiak said. “Instead of paying $10,000, the city paid outside counsel $35,000, plus the $7,500 jury award, plus our attorney’s fees of $153,000. It makes no financial sense whatsoever.” Certainly the new policy serves the desired function of weeding out frivolous lawsuits. However, the cost-saving effects have yet to be shown.Â Only time will tell if the policy has its intended effect. And, in the meantime, the new policy may serve the unfortunate side effect of discouraging those with legitimate claims who have suffered injuries at the hands of Chicago police from seeking a remedy. Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office[READ MORE…]
Red light cameras in Illinois have been criticized as being unfair, inconsistent and nothing more than an easy way for cities and towns to make money. A new law tweaks the way the cameras are being used.
The deadline for reporting childhood sex abuse has changed because many victims of sexual abuse have repressed memories, and even if they remember the abuse, they may not discover its harmful impact until much later.
Sending photographs of a sexual nature via the cellular phone or computer is considered sexting, and can have huge consequences for minors. As the sexting law stands now, minors caught electronically distributing photographs that are sexual in nature are considered to be in promotion of Child Pornography. Child Pornography laws are harsh and include mandatory registration as a sex offender.
The current law considers driving any amount over the posted speed as speeding and you would receive a standard moving violation.
Motorists who drive recklessly near a bicyclist will see increases in penalties as well as up to a year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
It is about to get a lot easier for employees to collect on back wages here in Illinois on January 1, 2011. The new law will cover wage theft, a term used when an employer doesn’t pay a worker the wages they have earned.
A recent Chicago court filing illustrates the difficulties encountered by caregivers of ailing parents or relatives. Sometimes, there’s a fine line between “medical” care and “long term” care and those involved in the care of a particular patient may vehemently disagree as to which category applies. This untenable situation can cause unfortunate conflicts to arise between health care provider and family members of sick patients. This is exactly what occurred recently at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as detailed in this Chicago Tribune article. The daughter of Dolores Bedin, an elderly women suffering from incurable pancreatic cancer, refused to allow her mother to be discharged from the hospital despite the hospital’s assertion that she had been ready for release since September 18th. Accordingly, the hospital filed a petition seeking to revoke Ms. Bedin’s daughter’s right to power of attorney over Ms. Bedin’s affairs. The reasons for the disagreement over Ms. Bedin’s discharge are more complicated than they might seem at first glance.Â First, as explained in the article, one possible source of contention may have been the family’s inability to provide long term care: Adult children often struggle to arrange care for dependent parents, a problem made more difficult by gaps in insurance coverage related to non-acute care. Many seniors, including Dolores Bedin, lack long-term care insurance, and many lack adequate savings. Janet Bedin, who juggles her family responsibilities with a job that involves travel, worries that she is unable to adequately care for her frail, terminally ill mother at home. Another possible cause for disagreement in this case appears to have been related to claims that the hospital may have committed medical malpractice: Janet Bedin also said she believes the hospital should make a special accommodation for the family because, she alleged, Northwestern physicians failed to notify them about a mass on her mother’s pancreas, which was discovered in a CT scan in April. Bedin said they didn’t learn about it for five months, and it turned out to be cancerous. A hearing was held a few days after documents were filed with the court and following the hearing, Ms. Bedin’s daughter agreed to allow her mother to be discharged from the hospital, as reported in this UPI.com article. This unfortunate situation illustrates the challenges faced by caregivers and the difficulties that can arise when there are unexpected gaps in insurance coverage. Although no one wants to think about the[READ MORE…]
In the past we’ve discussed distracted driving, in the context of texting bans and the use of iPads in cars. And, I think we can all agree that in an ideal world, when driving, people should focus only on the road. This proposition makes sense, both for purposes of our own safety and the safety of others. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation isn’t that simple. People drive while distracted all the time, and have been doing so since the advent of cars. For example, as discussed in this Huffington Post article, driving with kids in the car can be far more distracting than, for example, talking on the phone while driving. As explained in the article, according to the United States Department of Transportation, there are 3 main types of driver distractions: Visual distractions lead drivers to take their eyes off the road. Manual distractions lead drivers to take their hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions lead drivers to take their minds off what they’re doing. And, as explained in a recent article from thestar.com, according to some experts, “accepted” distractions such as talking while using a hands-free device are just as dangerous as those which are typically forbidden, such as using hand-held devices while driving. In other words, any type of distraction presents a risk. That’s not to say that distracted driving should be condoned or accepted as one of the hazards of driving. Rather, the focus should be on educating people about the hazards of all types of distracted driving and passing laws that forbid people from engaging in certain distracting activities while driving. One way that governmental agencies have addressed this problem is by discouraging the people from engaging in distracting behaviors while driving on the job. For example, as explained in this blog post from the Workers’ Compensation blog, employers are being encouraged to prohibit the use of cell phones by employees operating vehicles: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is following the lead of the US Department of Labor by encouraging employers to ban cell phone use while operatingÂ vehicles. An outright prohibition and supporting legislation may lead to the prohibition of workers’ compensationÂ benefitsÂ in manyÂ jurisdictionsÂ in the near future unless more global and radical action is taken toÂ re-mediateÂ this dangerous activity. That’s certainly a step in the right direction. This is a troubling issue and one that only increases in importance asÂ mobile devices[READ MORE…]
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