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.

I Would Do Anything For My Kids, But Even I Have a Limit

When it comes to my kids, there is actually a limit as to what I will and will not do. Sure, if my daughter wants the latest Moana doll to line the shelves at the Disney Store, she’s got me so wrapped around her little finger that I’ll rev the engine to my intimidating Nissan Sentra, drive the 35 minutes to the mall, tote around a cotton bag to do my part to aid recycling, all so I can hear her squeal with excitement as she grabs the doll, hugs it and ultimately forgets about it by bedtime.

What I won’t do, however, is expose my children on social media. It’s a controversial topic that Huffington Post writer Emily Blatchford discusses at length in her article, “Should You Post Photos of Your Child on Social Media.” In our technologically advanced – and ever advancing – world, we, as adults, have become accustomed to the concept of sharing, perhaps, “over-sharing.” As a typical millennial, having come of age in the vintage-laden, Riot Girlll days of the 90s’, computers, TRL, reality tv-shows and inventions of Myspace, I was beginning my segway into a virtual identity long before I ever realized it.

By the time 2018 rolled around, social media became such a mainstream addiction that I actually took a conscious step back from it. My temporary hiatus allowed me to reflect on my habits beforehand – and that included the conscious decision to not show my children’s faces to my high school friends while they scroll their newsfeed on their lunch breaks.

Blatchford talks at length about how posting pictures could be an invasion of privacy, a segway for photos to wind up in the hands of sexual predators, and even further, how this is cultivating an environment where our kids don’t necessarily gain the opportunity to understand that not everything you see online is real.

While I enjoy my children’s smiling, bad-breath smelling faces gleaming at me at 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning, those on my Facebook or Twitter feed don’t share my sentiments. In fact, that’s a huge reason as to why I refuse to post them. Outside of me, my wife, and our parents, no one really cares about our kids. They’d care if they had surgery, or recognition at school, but a half blurry, out-of-focus picture of my daughter refusing to eat her mashed peas doesn’t necessarily strike me as a viral content. Although, let me ask Annie Liebowitz real quick to confirm.

I think sharing your children’s milestones comes with a price – and a hefty one, too. Often, parents aren’t familiar with where that line should be drawn? Sharing your excitement over your child taking their first steps is magical. Sharing the image of the first time your child used the potty correctly crosses a line. It’s a controversial topic and one that my friends and I often disagree on. While I have a mild social media presence that would trick you into thinking I didn’t have any kids (except of course, when I write about them), I have friends who created Facebook accounts for each of their children that way they can have the photos, likes, comments, and memories to look back on when they grow older and ironically, when Facebook becomes obsolete.

We’re taught, growing up, that sharing is caring, but when it comes to social media, my children’s privacy is paramount. It’s in this discovery that reminds me that sharing may not always be the most caring and loving thing I could do for them as their father.

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.

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!

Lawsuits Resulting From Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying Lawyer Voorhees, NJIf you think back to your public-school days, then you can probably remember at least one school bully that frequently tormented other children. This age-old behavior has continued and possibly worsened due to the increase in technological advancements like the internet and mobile phones. Cyberbullying through social media or text message has become a new trend, and the effects are devastating. Cyberbullying-related suicides have been increasing nationwide. Laws against such reckless internet bullying behavior are still evolving in most states, but many victims have successfully attempted to seek compensation in civil court against their offenders.

What is Cyberbullying?

The Cyberbullying Research Center defines cyberbullying as the intentional, willful act of inflicting harm on another person by utilizing technology like cell phones, computer or other electronic devices. In addition, the actions must reflect a pattern of repeated behavior. An isolated incident wouldn’t be considered cyberbullying, but ongoing and repetitive acts that cause harm to the victim fall under the definition of bullying. The nature of social media and the internet make it easier for bullies to cause repeated harm with a singular action. For instance, a cyberbully may post an embarrassing, compromising image of another only once. The isolated incident alone wouldn’t constitute cyberbullying, but the singular action can cause repeated and ongoing harm when other individuals repeatedly view, comment and share the original post.

Stopbullying.gov lists the most common places where cyberbullying is likely to occur. Social media, instant messages, text messages, and emails are the most frequent forums for this type of abuse. Technological advancements have made it possible for communication to occur 24 hours a day instantaneously, so some victims have trouble finding relief from persistent cyberbullying. Additionally, digital technology makes cyberbullying incidents a permanent and often public record of the abuse. It can be permanently damaging to one’s online reputation, and sometimes an online reputation can affect real-life opportunities as well.

Cyberbullying Statistics

Cyberbullying is increasingly common among adolescents and teenagers. Statistics from Bullyingstatistics.org indicate that at least one in four teens has reported being bullied through the internet or their cell phone. Shockingly, over half of teens have admitted to engaging in cyberbullying themselves. Typically, younger adults won’t inform their parents or teachers about cyberbullying incidents. Statistics gathered from the Hartford County Examiner reveal that fewer than one in five cyberbullying incidents are ever reported to law enforcement.

Effects of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying causes direct psychological, emotional and physical stress for victims. This type of abuse is known to increase a victim’s risk of developing anxiety or depression-like symptoms. Student’s grades may suffer, and they may even complain of physical ailments that don’t stem from any medical condition. Increased feelings of sadness can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. The Cyberbullying Research Center explains how 20 percent of victims say cyberbullying led them to have suicidal thoughts. Victims of cyberbullying may feel like there is no real escape from the abuse because the internet and technology are so ubiquitous in our modern-day lives. The mainstream media has reported on several high-profile and unforgettable cyberbullying cases that have resulted in suicide. Ryan Halligan, a victim of cyberbullying, took his life in 2003 after years of harassment through AOL messenger. His father, John Halligan, believes that bullies have weaponized technology to carry out more effective bullying campaigns in modern times. Cyberbullying can also indirectly cause financial losses when victims are forced to get new phones, purchase new computers or create new online accounts.

Is Cyberbullying Against the Law?

While federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability or religion, there are no specific federal laws regarding cyberbullying. If bullying and discrimination overlap, then the school is required to resolve the harassment. Otherwise, there are no federal laws specific to cyberbullying. All states have some form of law regarding bullying, and nearly all of the states specifically include electronic harassment. Only about 18 of these states punish cyberbullies with criminal sanctions, and the penalties for offenses vary. Schools are often held accountable for these types of incidents. When cyberbullying occurs, the school is required to conduct a full investigation and resolve the situation.

Society has grown and changed in many ways because of the widespread availability of the internet and hand-held connected devices. Laws have continued to develop to include criminal or financial sanctions for people’s use of cell phones, the internet and other technology to commit crimes on the world wide web. In 2011, New Jersey passed the Anti-Bullying Bill of Acts that set guidelines for schools dealing with cyberbullying. Most of the time, the bully is not subject to criminal sanctions. In extreme cases, the police may pursue cyber-harassment charges which is a fourth-degree crime in New Jersey. This serious crime can result in 18 months in jail and up to a 10,000 fine for minors. It’s crucial that parents hire an experienced attorney when their juvenile is charged with this serious offense.

Past Lawsuits Involving Cyberbullying

Some cyberbullying victims have pursued lawsuits against their bullies. To file a personal injury lawsuit, a cyberbully victim will need to prove that the defendant owed a duty to them, the defendant acted recklessly, the breach caused injury and the injury caused damages. Victims may also pursue lawsuits alleging libel, harassment, defamation or emotional distress. Depending on the circumstances, parents may be held accountable for a child’s cyberbullying. One case that reached the Georgia Court of Appeals held parents liable for their child’s fake Facebook account because they didn’t make him delete it when they became aware of it. Ultimately, parents can be held accountable when they haven’t efficiently supervised their child or minimized the damage they caused upon discovering the behavior. In some situations, a child’s school may be held liable when they failed to take steps to resolve a known cyberbullying issue. Similar cyberbullying lawsuits have been filed in Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana and other states.

The prevalence of cyberbullying amongst younger adolescents is startling, and statistics clearly indicate the very real dangers victim’s face due to this societal issue. Most states rely on schools to manage cyberbullying, so criminal sanctions are not always pursed for this serious crime. Some victims have taken out lawsuits against their abusers in an attempt to bring attention to the tragic consequences of this reckless childhood behavior. It’s clear that more needs to be done to address this problem among our school-aged children.