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.

The Laws Surrounding Wearing Motorcycle Helmets in New Jersey

New Jersey Motorcycle Accident AttorneyNot everyone may agree with it but the law is clear: anyone riding a motorcycle must wear a federally approved DOT helmet when doing so in New Jersey. Many people have differing opinions on this law, as the line between what is safe for riders and the government’s infringement upon adult’s decision-making is constantly being walked on.

It is one thing when there is a law in place for children wearing protective gear, as they are not old enough or responsible enough to be able to make a decision such as this on their own. For grown adults, however, this is not as easy of a decision. Some people do not agree with being forced to wear a helmet, especially those who are old enough to remember a time when it was not required to do so. Nonetheless, the law states that whether you are the driver or a passenger everyone riding a motorcycle must be wearing a helmet at all times.

Even if you disagree with the law on the grounds that adults deserve the right to make a decision on what they can and cannot wear on their own without interference from the government, the statistics paint a scary picture that even the most hard-to-convince person must admit are not ideal circumstances. First of all, when riding a motorcycle any accident will almost always be more severe. That is because there is nothing to protect the driver from the road or any other vehicles besides the clothes they have on their back and hopefully a helmet.

This increases the risk of suffering from catastrophic injuries, and other injuries you would most likely not sustain if you had been in a car, such as road rash. From this perspective, making all riders wear a helmet makes sense. Statistically, the numbers are even more alarming, as in a five year period from 2010 to 2015 there were over 13,000 reported accidents involving motorcycles in New Jersey. Even more staggering is that over 90% of the people involved in those accidents admitted to not having proper motorcycle safety training. Some of these accidents could be attributed to driving under the influence but many of them also had to do with unsafe driving speeds as well as distracted driving, all things that may occur when driving a car but become extremely more dangerous when done while riding a motorcycle.

The number of fatalities that occur due to motorcycles vary every year, but the numbers are still too high for anyone’s liking. In 2015 it was reported that approximately 50 people were killed in a motorcycle accident which was thankfully down from 62 who died the previous year. Neither of these compares to back in 2006 when nearly 100 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. It is statistics like these that show the need for motorcycle safety improvement, and while wearing a helmet may not have saved all of the people involved in these incidents, they may have saved some of them while also decreasing the number of serious accidents that were not fatal that also occurred.

The condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE has been highlighted in the news lately because as more studies are being conducted, the more we are learning about just how fragile the brain is and how injuries can affect a person over the long term. CTE is more common in activities and sports where the brain is damaged repeatedly over a long period of time, but the reports prove that any damage to the brain can have significant impacts on a person’s health later in life and sadly, may even be the cause of why one’s life may end prematurely. There are some accidents that a motorcycle helmet may not be able to save you from but if there is a chance that serious injury could be averted and your brain can stay protected, it is a chance that everyone should take whether it is the law or not.

If none of this is enough to convince you that you should wear a helmet when driving a motorcycle then consider this, a person is 29 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than someone who is involved in a car accident – and 5 times more likely to be injured. Again, wearing an approved helmet will not reverse those numbers completely, but studies show that doing so can increase your levels of safety significantly, which is even more important than following the law. The fine for not wearing motorcycle helmet is not a terribly large one in New Jersey, as it usually will only be a $25 ticket with no points being issued to you either. Whether or not this fine is enough to ensure that everyone follows the law is up for debate. What is not up for debate, however, is whether the alternative of what could happen if you are involved in an accident while driving a motorcycle is worth not wearing the correct protective gear that is literally the only thing between your head and the asphalt.

The question on whether or not it is right to force all adults to wear motorcycle helmets in New Jersey may be a discussion that continues forever, but as of now the law in place has the matter settled, at least as far as the courts go. Until anything changes in this aspect, no one will be able to legally circumvent the law despite how passionate they may be in thinking it is unjust. Even if someone is willing to pay the fines just so they can have the freedom of riding a motorcycle without a helmet, it is a dangerous decision that statistics show is clearly not the smartest one. None of this means that people who drive a car can be less aware or responsible when they are behind the wheel and out on the road, but if you are going to ride a motorcycle it is very important to be aware of the risks as well as the law. For no matter how careful you believe you are being when you are out there on your motorcycle, you are not the only person out there on the roads and any small mistake by you or any of the other drivers can be the type that you may never recover from.

Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal Injury Lawyer Erie, PABeing hurt in an accident can lead to a broad range of different types of injuries. Depending on the diagnosis from a doctor, the different types of spinal cord injuries can have life-lasting repercussions for a victim. A spinal cord injury need to be diagnosed immediately with the help of a medical professional to give the injured party the best possible opportunity to recover in full.

In many cases, the diagnosis of a spinal cord injury will make it difficult or impossible altogether for the person to return to work ever again. Significant adjustments to their day to day life in addition to rehabilitation, surgery and other medical treatments may be associated with many types of spinal cord injuries.

This is because of the delicate nature of the spinal cord and the important role it plays in supporting the human body. According to research, more than 12,500 spinal cord injuries are diagnosed every single year. This leaves the diagnosed party and their family members to deal with the fallout from a catastrophe. A patient needs to be prepared to speak up for his or her interests, both with regard to medical care and a lawsuit. Understanding how spinal cord injuries work and how this can affect your life can make it easier to recover as much as possible from an accident. In some cases, the maximum medical improvement may not include full recovery from the injuries. In these circumstances, an injured party may be eligible to pursue a legal claim against the responsible party, if the accident was caused by negligence.

Understanding Spinal Cord Anatomy

The spinal cord is a column of nerves that have 31 separate vertebrae inside. Four unique regions are used to break down the spinal cord and depending on where your injury was diagnosed, can influence your ability to recover and impact your day to day life.

The cervical spinal cord is the topmost portion that relates to a vertebra. The thoracic spinal cord is the middle of this important section of your back including twelve vertebrae. The lumbar spinal cord is where the spinal cord begins to bend including five lumbar vertebrae. The sacral spine is the triangle shaped lower section of the spine that has five vertebrae. Finally, the coccygeal region may also be referred to as tailbone and is only one vertebra.

The Two Primary Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

Every spinal cord injury falls into one of two categories, complete or incomplete. Complete injuries happen once the spinal cord is severed in full. Some physical therapy and treatment may make it possible for a victim to recover some function, but usually, the function is eliminated entirely. In an incomplete injury, the spinal cord experiences a partial severing. The degree of the person’s function following an incomplete spinal cord injury depends on the extent of the injuries. Several of the most frequent types of partial or incomplete spinal cord injuries include:

  • Central cord syndrome: which is damage to the center of the cord leading to partial impairment, paralysis of the arms, paralysis of the legs and loss of fine motor skills.
  • Interior cord syndrome: This occurs to the front of the spinal cord and damages the sensory pathways and the motor pathways in the spinal cord. It may be difficult for a person who has been diagnosed with this injury to move regularly.
  • Brown-Sequard syndrome: This injury has to do with damaged one column of the spinal cord and movement on that side may be difficult.

Other types of common spinal cord injury include:

  • Triplegia: which means loss of movement and sensation in one arm or in both legs usually the result of an incomplete spinal cord injury.
  • Paraplegia: which happens when the movement and sensation are eliminated from the lower half of the body such as the legs. These injuries are typically more pronounced when they are located more closely to the top vertebra.
  • Tetraplegia: This is the most severe type of damage to the cervical spinal cord, which eliminates the ability to move below the site of the injury, causing problems with respiration, bowel, and bladder control.

Identifying the Symptoms of a Spinal Cord Injury

Identifying when someone has suffered a spinal cord injury can help to get the appropriate care for that person and increase their chances of maximum recovery. Some of the most common spinal cord injuries symptoms include:

  • Loss of fertility
  • Changes in personality or mood
  • Headaches
  • Chronic pain
  • Bed Sores
  • Difficulty with bowel and bladder function
  • Frequent infection
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Degrees of paralysis
  • Chronic muscle pain
  • Nerve pain

All of these situations are serious and require the assistance of an experienced medical professional.

If you’re not yet sure whether or not you have suffered a spinal cord injury, take care not to be moved. If you arrive on the scene of a car accident or something similar, the same guidelines apply. Trying to move someone who may have sustained a spinal cord injury can make the situation much worse and more dangerous.

Getting medical help is extremely important in these situations as it can help to minimize the chances that a dangerous situation becomes life-threatening. Moving a person who has a spinal cord injury could lead to devastating consequences including paralysis.

Anyone who feels unable to move or is reporting severe back pain should be taken seriously. Not following up with a medical professional or going to the hospital could exacerbate the situation and make things much harder for the victim in recovery.

After being diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, the patient should receive a customized treatment plan from a doctor. This can include years of physical therapy and exercises, but in some cases, the person may never experience feeling in their affected limbs again. While modern medicine is always improving with regard to the research surrounding spinal cord injuries and the treatments available, a person who has been seriously affected will have to adjust to many new aspects of their life in this difficult time.

My sister was born with a Tethered Spinal Cord that went undiagnosed for the first ten years of her life. I remember going in and out of hospitals with her, watching her writhe in pain as she had multiple doctors tell her and our parents that she was just experiencing “growing pains.” It wasn’t until she was close to paralysis from her waist down, at 11 years old, that our family was finally given the truth about her condition. Today, my sister’s fine, and she takes more Instagram photos than most 28-year old women, but her severe condition going unnoticed for over a decade was a case of medical malpractice.

While she’s seen a chiropractor and has begun to finally feel relief, she’s spent her entire life suffering from incontinence, along with excruciating pain in her lower back and her legs – pain, mind you, that feels like she’s finished first place in a 25-mile long marathon. She’s in constant pain from sitting down, standing, walking, and sometimes doing nothing at all. So often, it’s hard to think that any sort of medical malpractice case or spinal cord injury will affect you personally, but when it does, it makes you want to share your story and help someone else along the way.

Be sure to check this article out on Medium, too.