Category Archives: Health Information

Psychiatric Medical Emergency Policies and the Largest EMTALA Penalty Ever

Most hospitals are intimately familiar with the application of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) in medical cases. It becomes more complex and challenging when an individual presents to a hospital’s emergency department (ED) with symptoms of a psychiatric disturbance. We are seeing increased focus on these types of cases by healthcare regulators. Multiple recent enforcement actions include two settlements – $360,000 and $1.3 million – that are far afield from the “usual” $50,000 penalty (or $25,000 for smaller hospitals). From these settlements, we see how problematic practices can significantly compound penalties, particularly in psychiatric emergency cases. Continue reading

Additional Challenges for Off-Campus Provider-Based Hospital Departments

Proposed Reduction of Payment Rates for Non-excepted Off-campus Provider-Based Hospital Departments Paid Under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

Medical facilities owned by hospitals but located off-campus are facing new challenges on both the state and federal levels. CMS recently proposed a rule updating certain payment policies and rates for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (Proposed Rule). Among other provisions, the Proposed Rule slashes payment rates for non-excepted off-campus provider-based hospital departments that are now paid according to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The Proposed Rule will be published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2017; the comment period will close on Sept. 11, 2017. Continue reading

Conducting Required Reviews Can Save Your Facility from Embarrassment – and Worse!

Even though we know the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” background checks on on personnel can sometimes fall through the cracks. Here are a few examples of times that make us wish we would have double-checked to be sure they were getting done:

  • A state surveyor is on-site investigating and advises that the allegation of neglect or abuse is against a tech who was convicted for beating up his father a year before he was hired.
  • In employing a favorite PRN nurse who has been around for a couple of years, you learn that she never obtained a license when she moved here from Texas. You realize there may now be returnable overpayments, because she is not appropriately licensed to perform the services in our state.
  • You want to impress your new venture partner, and cringe when they discover in due diligence that your team has not checked the excluded provider or debarred contractor lists in a few years.

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Florida Supreme Court Decision Raises Concerns About the Constitutionality of Statutory Caps on Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

The Supreme Court of Florida recently found Florida’s statutory caps on medical malpractice damages for pain and suffering (noneconomic damages) to be unconstitutional as violating the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution. This ruling is concerning for healthcare providers because, not only could it result in additional liability in malpractice cases, but it could also cause an increase in malpractice insurance premiums. Continue reading

eClinicalWorks Case Raises New Questions

On May 31, 2017, the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that eClinicalWorks (ECW) agreed to pay a $155 million settlement and enter a corporate integrity agreement with the OIG to resolve allegations that ECW caused its health care provider customers to submit false Medicare and Medicaid claims for meaningful use payments in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA). Under the corporate integrity agreement, ECW agreed to strict compliance and reporting obligations and to provide the latest version of ECW’s EHR software to each of ECW’s current customers free of charge. Continue reading

Recent $400K HIPAA Settlement with FQHC Highlights Importance of HIPAA Security Management Process

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), recently entered a $400,000 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) settlement with Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN), a federally-qualified health center (FQHC). The settlement serves as a stark reminder that all covered entities, including FQHCs, must meet the HIPAA Security Rule requirements and that OCR is continuing to step up enforcement efforts in this area. Continue reading

First Ever HIPAA Enforcement Action for Delay in Breach Reporting

A delay in timely breach notification may now cost you. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently entered a settlement with Presence Health for untimely reporting a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI). Presence discovered that its operating room schedules containing PHI for 836 individuals were missing on October 22, 2013. Under the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, breaches like this which involve >500 individuals are required to be reported to the individuals, prominent media outlets and OCR without unreasonable delay and in no case later than 60 days. Presence did not report the breach to OCR until January 31, 2014, approximately 100 days after discovering the breach. OCR’s investigation concluded that Presence failed to notify, without unreasonable delay and within 60 days of discovering the breach, each of the 836 individuals, the media and OCR. Presence agreed to pay $475,000 to settle the potential violations.

The Press Release and Resolution Agreement are available on the OCR website.

Written by: Jacob Simpson

Jacob Simpson_headshot

CMS Releases Final Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) posted the final approved version of the Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice (“MOON”) on the CMS Beneficiary Notices Initiative website on December 8, 2016.[1]  According to CMS, all hospitals and critical access hospitals (“CAHs”) are required to provide the MOON beginning no later than March 8, 2017. Continue reading

Clay Countryman and Alec Alexander to speak at MGMA-New Orleans Chapter Workshop

Clay J. Countryman and Alec Alexander will be speaking at a workshop hosted by the Medical Group Management Association’s New Orleans chapter on September 28, 2016. Mr. Countryman will present “HIPAA Phase 2 Audits: Are you ready?” and Mr. Alexander will present “Fraud and Abuse: Compliance for Physician Practices and Recent Hot Topics. The workshop will be located at the East Jefferson General Hospital Conference Center – Esplanade I in Metairie, Louisiana. For more information or to register, click here.

Countryman, Clay headshot        Alexander, Alec headshot
Clay Countryman                     Alec Alexander