NEWS & INFORMATION

Breaking Health News in Connecticut



The WHO's Zika Virus Recommendations

Since the World Health Organization's Emergency Committee on Zika virus first met on 1 February, substantial new research has strengthened the association between Zika infection and the occurrence of fetal malformations and neurological disorders. Evidence also suggests that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed. Based on these findings the Emergency Committee made Zika virus - new recommendations that include:

Scaling-up research and development, surveillance, vector control, clinical care, and community engagement;

Advice for pregnant women not to travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus outbreaks; and

Advice for pregnant women, whose sexual partners live in or travel to areas with Zika virus outbreaks, to use safe sexual practices or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy (full information for travellers).

—Read all of the Emergency Committee's recommendations
—Listen to the full press briefing on the Second Zika Emergency Committee



Responding to Subpoena for Medical Records May Create Liability for Healthcare Providers Under State Law Negligence Claims

Healthcare providers receiving a subpoena for patient medical records may want to think twice before complying with the subpoena and producing the records. A recent Connecticut case, Byrne v. Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.C., arose when the defendant gynecology center received a subpoena to produce the medical records of its patient, who was also a party in a separate action, and the center complied with the subpoena by producing the medical records. The center did not obtain its patient’s authorization and had not received satisfactory assurances that the requesting party had attempted to notify the patient of the subpoena or had attempted to seek entry of a qualified protective order. On November 11, 2014, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s ruling, holding that HIPAA did not preempt the patient’s claims for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress arising out of the gynecology center’s disclosure of her subpoenaed medical records in violation of HIPAA privacy regulations, and the HIPAA regulations provided the standard of care applicable to the patient’s negligence claims. Click here for the full story.

EBOLA Preparedness Resources


Dear Colleague,

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) continues to work with other U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other domestic and international partners in an international response to the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The attached document summarizes key messages about the outbreak and the response. It will be updated as new information becomes available and distributed regularly. Please share this document with others as appropriate.

The following are updated guidance documents available:

Open Letter to All U.S. Healthcare Professionals from Dr. Nicole Lurie, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, regarding the current Ebola situation. – Oct. 3, 2014
Interim Guidance for Environmental Infection Control in Hospitals for Ebola Virus - Updated Oct. 3, 2014
HAN 371: Evaluating Patients for Possible Ebola Virus Disease: Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel and Health Officials – Oct. 2, 2014
Interim Guidance: EMS Systems & 9-1-1 PSAPs: Management of Patients in the U.S. - Updated Oct. 1, 2014
Evaluating Returned Travelers for EVD, U.S. – Oct. 1, 2014
Checklist for Patients Being Evaluated for EVD, U.S. – Oct. 1, 2014
Ebola Screening Criteria Template for EMS – Updated Oct. 1, 2014

CDC/ASPR Checklists:

Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness
Checklist for Healthcare Coalitions for Ebola Preparedness
Detailed Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Checklist for Ebola Preparedness

Webinar Recording Available on Ebola Preparedness for U.S. Health Care System A recording of a recent webinar hosted by ASPR and CDC on Ebola Preparedness for the U.S. health care system is now available for viewing. The webinar focused on the Detailed Hospital Checklist for Ebola Preparedness, which highlights the activities that all hospitals can take to prepare for the possibility of a patient exposed to Ebola arriving for medical care. This information is especially useful for hospital emergency managers, infection control officers, hospital leadership, and clinical staff. The checklist provides practical and specific suggestions to ensure hospitals can detect possible Ebola cases, protect their employees, and respond appropriately.

CDC and ASPR encourage you to visit the CDC Ebola website for the most updated information on the 2014 Ebola response and to share this information with your colleagues and networks.

Sincerely,

Division of Health System Policy
HHS/ASPR/OPP
Thomas P. O’Neill Federal Building
200 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20024
eccc@hhs.gov


AOA and ACGME Agree to Single GME Accreditation System

After months of discussion, the AOA, along with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), have agreed to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education (GME) programs in the United States.

A single GME accreditation system will evaluate and provide accountability for the competency of physician residents consistently across all GME programs. This ensures the quality and efficiency of postdoctoral education, while preserving the unique dimensions of the osteopathic medical profession and recognizing its contribution to health care in the U.S. Under the agreement:

• From July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2020, AOA-accredited training programs will transition to ACGME recognition and accreditation.
• There will continue to be osteopathic-focused training programs under the ACGME accreditation system. Two osteopathic review committees will be developed to evaluate and set standards for the osteopathic aspects of training programs seeking osteopathic recognition.
• DOs and MDs would have access to all training programs. There will be prerequisite competencies and a recommended program of training for MD graduates who apply for entry into osteopathic-focused programs.
• AOA and AACOM will become ACGME member organizations, and each will have representation on ACGME’s board of directors.

The agreement provides the framework for the osteopathic and allopathic communities to prepare future generations of physicians with the highest quality graduate medical education and serve as a unified voice for graduate medical education resources to help mitigate the primary care physician shortage and better serve the public. A single GME accreditation system ensures that all physicians have access to the primary and sub-specialty training they need for the patients they want to serve. For the osteopathic medical profession, the system recognizes the unique principles and practices of DOs and our contribution to the health and well-being of all Americans. Please visit www.osteopathic.org/acgme for more information.



Judge Bars UnitedHealthcare from Dropping Docs

A federal judge in Connecticut has issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting UnitedHealthcare from dropping doctors from its provider networks for Medicare Advantage plans. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill could have national implications as UnitedHealthcare and other insurers move to tighten their Advantage networks.

Download a PDF of the full article.



UnitedHealthcare is Terminating Physicians from its Medicare Advantage Programs

Several AOA members contacted the AOA regarding letters they received as part of UnitedHealthcare’s changes to their network composition. In these letters UHC informed physicians that their UHC Medicare Advantage participation will end, all UHC Medicare Advantage benefit plans will be removed from their contracts, and that patients covered by UHC Medicare Advantage will be instructed to select an alternate UHC Medicare Advantage network for physician services rendered on or after January 1, or February 1, 2014, depending on the state. The physician's participation in commercial or Medicaid benefit plans will not be terminated through this process.

The AOA is sending a letter to UnitedHealthcare to express our concerns with this initiative and the potential impact on the physician-patient relationship. We strongly encourage physicians who receive letters to immediately appeal UHC’s decision to terminate with specific information on why your services are needed in your geographic area. We also encourage you to alert your patients and have them contact their UHC network representatives.

Yolanda Doss, Director of the AOA’s Division of Compliance and Payment Advocacy, has been in communication with UnitedHealthcare, as well as several physicians impacted by this action. A New Jersey physician has drafted a very good appeal letter and approved the AOA sharing his letter with you. This letter may be used as a guide to assist other physicians with their appeals. Be sure your own personal letters reflect the impact this action will have on your patients, your practice, and possibly the community. (See letter attached above.) If you have questions, you may contact Ms. Doss at (312) 202-8187 or by email at ydoss@osteopathic.org.

To learn more about the situation, read this article on ModernHealthCare.com.



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