Controversial Affordable Care Act Requirement Penalizes Pennsylvania Hospitals for High Number of Patient Injuries

Affordable Care ActDue to a stipulation that was included in the Affordable Care Act requiring a quarter of the worst performing hospitals in patient injuries to lose out on a certain percentage of Medicare funding from the Federal government, a total of 751 hospitals including some found in Pennsylvania, find themselves being penalized due to this recent measure. This provision that started four years ago states that all hospitals that fall into this bottom percentile automatically lose 1 percent of their Medicare payments from the government over the federal fiscal year (October through September).

Ideally, these penalties were included in the Affordable Care Act as a way to incentivize hospitals in a financial manner to try and avoid a large number of ailments that patients could end up suffering from. These include afflictions such as bedsores, hip fractures, blood clots as well as the hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) one could get from hysterectomies and colon surgeries. The clear hope was that by taking money away from the hospitals who found themselves in these situations, they would then work harder to treat their patients better and give them more attention in order to try and stop these negative symptoms to occur. By improving the caliber of the care they are giving their patients hospitals would hopefully reduce the number of patients who fell into these categories and therefore they would not fall victim to penalties of this kind.

It is not a surprise that close to a majority of the hospitals (one-third) found on this list were categorized as teaching hospitals, although there was at least some improvement over last year when nearly half of all hospitals on the lists were teaching schools. There are some that argue that this is a label they are unfairly given, as academic hospitals are known to be more prone to infections and conditions such as these. This is because they deal with an extensive number of patients who hold a bigger risk of getting infections as compared to other types of hospitals that do not take care of such a large number of higher risk patients.

In all, 23 percent of all hospitals that were evaluated by Medicare were penalized due to the rules of this program. Pennsylvania has 32 of the 751 hospitals on this list with more than half of them (17 total) being repeat offenders from the prior year. Pennsylvania is not alone on this list as every single other state besides Maryland also finds themselves on here, Maryland only being exempt because their state has other arranged plans with the federal government for their Medicare payments. On a positive note, 336 hospitals that lost money by being on the list last year improved enough to not find themselves on the list again this year including two in Pennsylvania, which were Geisinger Medical Center in Danville and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Be sure to visit this article on the Patch, too.

When Employees Need to Miss Work After An Accident

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Clark, NJMotor vehicle and motorcycle accidents can be devastating for victims. The financial strain of an accident may be made even worse by a victim’s inability to return to work right away. Ideally, a company would be able to give an injured victim all the time they need to recover from an accident before returning to work, but reality rarely works this way. An employer’s responsibilities are largely determined based on whether the accident occurred while performing job-related duties or whether it happened outside of work. Employees may be covered under workers compensation laws, the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act depending on the circumstances of the injury.

When an employee gets injured at work, it’s important to report the incident regardless of how minor you think it is. A copy of the official Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Employee’s Report of Injury Form can be found here. The injured employee needs to fill out this form and return it to their supervisor as soon as possible. OSHA uses these forms to help them identify and correct work-related hazards before they create more injuries or more dangerous situations. Supervisors will also have portions to fill out on the form. They will be required to list out whether safety regulations were in place before the incident, whether safety regulations were utilized and whether the supervisor has any recommendations that could prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Accurate and quick reporting has several advantages. Preventative measures can begin to be put in place as soon as an accident is fully understood. Often, reporting an incident in a timely manner will reduce everyone’s frustration and save your company money in the process. Timely reporting potentially reduces costs that can arise from state penalties, low employee morale, delayed return-to-work, unnecessary medical costs and litigation. Worker’s compensation benefits are paid out to those injured in an accident that is work-related.

Non-Work-Related Injuries

Non-work-related injuries have occurred outside of the worker’s course of employment. Typically, motorcycle accidents that occurred while in transit to your place of employment won’t be covered under workers’ compensation benefits. Employers need to be aware of the exceptions to this rule. If your employee is required to bring their car or motorcycle to work for use during the day, then the commute to and from work will be covered with worker’s compensation benefits. Injuries that happen in company-provided transportation to or from work in company-operated vehicles are also covered under workers compensation benefits.

When the accident is non-work-related and the employee’s time off of work won’t be covered under workers compensation benefits, then the injured employee will need to look at other options. Employers can recommend that the employee use their sick leave for the first week, or they can utilize annual vacation leave to cover the initial time off work. Employers may consider setting up a vacation time “bank” so employees can share sick days or vacation days with an injured employee that desperately needs it. Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely that anyone will step up to pay a victim’s lost wages or health care bills immediately following a non-work-related accident, so they may feel pressured to return to work as soon as they can.

The Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act was designed to help employees balance their work and family life, and it provides employees with the opportunity to take off reasonable unpaid leave for certain medical issues. When an employee is unable to work because of a health condition, employers must provide them with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Eligible employees must have already worked with their employer for at least a year, at least 1,250 hours for the employer and worked in a location where the employer has over 50 employees. The act’s definition of a serious health condition is very broad, and it usually encompasses injuries related to an automobile accident. According to the act, a serious health condition is an illness, impairment, injury or physical or mental condition that requires continuing treatment by a healthcare provider. The incapacity to work includes not being able to perform essential job duties. Conditions causing an incapacity period of more than three days and restorative surgery after an accident are specifically covered by this act.

Americans with Disabilities Act

If an employee’s accident resulted in a life-changing disability, then this federal law protects their rights. This act prevents businesses from discriminating against a disabled individual as long as they are qualified for the job. The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees that are qualified for the job including leave of absence from work. Each leave period is based on the individual’s circumstances, so there is no mandatory and set leave period required by this bill.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

Most often, an employee who has been injured and isn’t covered by the above acts will need to recover their lost wages and other damages through a personal injury lawsuit. These types of lawsuits can cover losses from missed days of work, missed overtime opportunities, potential bonuses and non-monetary perks that the employee missed while they were unable to work. In the event your employee seeks compensation in civil court, supervisors or the human resources department will likely need to provide the employee with official documentation about their income and number of hours missed from work.

Motorcycle accidents come with a number of losses outside of lost wages. Victims may endure medical costs, pain and suffering, property damage, depression-related issues and an overall loss of quality of life. Compassionate employers may be able to provide some relief for accident victims through worker’s compensation laws, the Family Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act. If an employee is entitled under multiple laws, then employers must provide leave under the law with the greatest benefits for the employee. Otherwise, the injured employee may have to seek compensation in civil court.

Don’t forget to check out this article on HR Zone, along with countless others!

Can Certain Foods Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer Pittsburgh, PAWhen my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, it devastated our entire family. At the time she was diagnosed, back in 2011, we knew nothing of the disease — or why she even had it, especially considering she was the first in our family to be diagnosed. For someone who had seemed healthy for all these years, was suddenly plagued with weekly chemo-treatments, a bald head, and fear of what her Stave IV breast cancer diagnosis meant.

Given the prevalence of breast cancer and the fact that it’s touched so many lives, one big question that I, among countless others have is how we can go about preventing this devastating type of cancer. While we learn that routine checks, such as mammograms and self-examinations are crucial for early detection, the concept of a simple diet and exercise leaves a lot to be desired. What kinds of foods may help with prevention? What foods should someone avoid? Prevention, as I’m beginning to understand, starts very simply at home.

My sister, since having a mother diagnosed with breast cancer, is at a higher risk for developing breast cancer during her lifetime. A common question that emerges from people — like my sister — who are at a higher risk of breast cancer, is whether or not there are particular foods that can increase or decrease the risk of disease.

If you ask anyone, they have probably had some type of personal connection to breast cancer. This is because one out of eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. While the risk of developing breast cancer is not as high, men are still at risk, affecting 1 out of 1,000 males in the United States. There are many different causes that can contribute to the development of breast cancer.

It is important to catch a diagnosis of breast cancer as soon as possible to give the affected person the best possible chance of developing a treatment plan and beating the disease. If a doctor fails to properly diagnosis this or misdiagnoses breast cancer as something else, the patient could miss out on valuable protections.

Some of the most common risk factors that can increase someone’s chances of breast cancer include obesity, age, certain medications, family history, genetics, hormone replacement therapy, birth control use, lack of exercise and diet.

While it is not possible to control many of the risk factors for the development of breast cancer, there are certain behaviors that can increase or decrease your risk. Some ways to minimize your breast cancer risk include making informed decisions before taking medications or going through hormone replacement therapy, maintaining a healthy weight, and using a plant-based diet.

Could Your Risk Be Higher Because You Eat These Foods?

Certain foods have been identified as being tied to an increased risk of breast cancer. One 2007 Italian study, for example, showed a high connection between sugar and the development of breast cancer. Grilled meats may increase the development of HCAs, which are cancer-causing compounds. High-fat animal products have also been tied to higher risk of breast cancer in addition to dairy and artificial sweeteners.

In recent years, many studies have explored the other negative impacts of consuming too much of these foods, such as a higher propensity for obesity. Those who are mindful of their diet and overall health may be looking to eliminate as many of these as possible from their daily lives already.

Decreasing Breast Cancer Risk with the Right Diet

The good news is, however, that there are some foods that could decrease your risk of breast cancer. Adding more of these types of food to your diet is not only easy but can help give you greater peace of mind. Broccoli contains high levels of indole-3 carbonyl, which has strong anti-cancerous properties. Red cabbage is another vegetable to consider adding into your regular diet. This also contains IC-3 in addition to vitamin A and this can reduce cancer risks. Chia seeds are another thing to incorporate into your diet because the Omega 3 fatty acid intake could decrease breast cancer risks due to its high antioxidants. Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, which decreases breast cancer risk and boosts your overall immune health. The very popular spice, turmeric, has been incorporated into recent studies as a potential breast cancer reduction risk. Anti-cancer effects in early studies have been identified with high use of turmeric, which also has benefits for your skin. One recent study says that women who ate lots of veggies, legumes, and fruit while minimizing processed carbohydrates, salt and red meat may decrease their chances of getting estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.

This makes up a quarter of breast cancer cases worldwide and this study was recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The chance of this type of cancer was 20% lower when women followed this diet.

The most beneficial foods to consider include walnuts and red, yellow and orange veggies and fruits. Harvard Medical School researchers identified that women who have higher levels of carotenoids or those nutrients found in veggies and fruits, typically have a lower breast cancer risk. This is particularly true for cancers that have a poor prognosis and are more difficult to diagnose.

The most popular choices for these fruits and veggies include sweet potatoes, kale, red peppers, spinach, carrots, and winter squash. In addition to following a healthy plant-based diet, reducing your intake of alcohol is another way to curb your breast cancer risk. While many items are safe in moderation, overexposure to particular compounds and chemicals can generate possible cancer risk and other health-related problems. For many people who overdo it, the signs may show up too late in the form of a cancer diagnosis. When certain types of cancer are flagged early, however aggressive, treatment options can help the affected person obtain better results and fight back to become cancer-free. It’s important to follow through on the doctor’s advice in these situations to have the best chance of beating the illness.

Proper awareness of increased risk factors, such as other women in the family who were diagnosed with breast cancer, might lead a woman to adopt new habits and to remain especially vigilant about screening.

In addition to advance screening and watching out for the signs of cancer, most people know that good health and exercise can contribute not only to lower cancer risk but a better lifestyle. While not every type of cancer can be avoided completely, with the right lifestyle, you can increase your chances significantly by committing to health and wellness as much as possible.

The diagnosis of breast cancer can have devastating impacts on a family if it’s not caught early. In the best case scenarios, proper screening and reporting potential problems to doctors will flag breast cancer issues early on and allow for the most treatment options.

Helping Out Pregnant Employees

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Howell NJHuman resources managers and all upper-level staff should be committed to doing everything within reason to help pregnant employees feel comfortable at work. This makes for a more comfortable workplace overall and decreases the chances of future conflicts and litigation filed on behalf of upset employees. Employers have concerns about making everyone feel welcome and appreciated in addition to doing everything they can to cut down on risk, including the types of risks presented by a lawsuit.

What Makes Employers Hesitant About Addressing Pregnancy Openly

After an employee announces that she is pregnant, the employer may be mindful of doing everything possible to avoid problems. This can, however, make the employee feel more uncomfortable. The employer might be trying to avoid bringing up the pregnancy at all so as not to make the women feel singled out, but this can also make it seem like no one is acknowledging the pregnancy. 

The very act of having no plan in place and never talking about it can make the employee feel as though her job is in jeopardy or that she is being discriminated against because of the pregnancy.  All employers should be aware of this fallout and should do whatever possible to avoid it.

You Need a Plan for Transition with a Pregnant Employee

When a co-worker or employee in the office becomes pregnant, having guidelines in place and ideas about how to make this person more comfortable are recommended for companies of all sizes. From making the big announcement to co-workers to figuring out how maternity leave is going to work, being pregnant at work can be very difficult and stressful for a working mom to be.

A study recently completed by the care.com found that approximately half of working women today were scared about telling their boss of the news of their pregnancy. Women may be nervous about bringing up their news to their employer and human resources and managers alike can all take steps to help minimize these concerns and make a pregnant woman safe in her working environment.

Supporting working mothers throughout the transition to parenthood, all the way from the news of the pregnancy through maternity leave and coming back from maternity leave can help to establish an appropriate company culture that makes working moms of all types feel comfortable. There are several different ideas that human resources departments and employers can keep in mind as they build a company that has a powerful work culture.

Advertise Benefits Appropriately

Any work-family benefits developed and used by the company should be clearly promoted throughout the physical premises. This can be posted in the bathroom and in the employee break room to help remind employees, including working mothers, about the supports and benefits available for them that are specifically tailored for their unique needs. This makes it easier for them to identify their individual work-family concerns and to take advantage of what you already offer. This can also show that you are taking the interest of all employees seriously by being proactive about implementing programs.

Provide Flexibility

Many employers use what is known as an informal flexibility program, meaning that the direct manager of the employee in question is responsible for providing further information up to a pregnant woman. This can relate to all sorts of issues over the course of the pregnancy, however, such as how a woman needs to request time off from work for necessary prenatal appointments and work from home days permitted after maternity leave.

Employees may be nervous about accepting these benefits, however, because of the stigma about working mothers and their overall commitment to the job. However, formalizing any flexible work arrangements by putting them in the writing can help to minimize problems and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

These subtle measures should not be overlooked. An employer might feel that if something is not as established as a support group that it’s better to avoid doing anything. However, no plans or information available in the workplace is just as bad and leads to confusion about workplace culture.

Any company today must have an idea of how to incorporate family concerns and other issues outside of the office, as at some point these concerns will inevitably have an impact on one employee or another.

Establish A Transition Plan

The transition to maternity leave might look slightly different from one employee to another, but documenting these guidelines in written format and referencing them with new and current employees alike can help to show that you have done your due diligence in putting together a plan that makes everyone feel comfortable and gives employees an opportunity to answer questions. This maternity leave checklist/timeline should include instructions for handing over projects and verify that coverage will be in place during the leave. This helps to reduce stress for the teams taking over the additional responsibilities as well as the working mom-to-be.

Create A Reintegration Plan

Much of the legwork associated with helping a pregnant woman feel comfortable in the workplace has to do with documenting your guidelines for how things may look over the course of the pregnancy and when she returns from work. A reintegration plan should be considered just as important as a transition plan before the departure.

Employers who are leading the way with parent-to-be policies may have the option to work from home one or more days a week or provide connections to new support groups within the workplace. This can help parents re-adjust to being in the office after their leave. This could alleviate an employee’s stress related to the workplace during the course of pregnancy and also make them feel more confident when they are making their way back into the office after time away for maternity leave.

Human resource managers and employers have a responsibility to ensure that they have thought of various options and established clear guidelines and protocols that make it clear to all employees, how things will be handled when a woman becomes pregnant.