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Healthcare and Law Enforcement: Working Together Instead of Against Each Other

A working relationship with law enforcement is key to the safety, efficacy, and well-being of everyone in the hospital. That said, hospitals and law enforcement have different goals, and while the two usually work well together, they can find themselves at odds.

During this 90-minute webinar on May 22, industry expert Lisa Terry, CHPA, CPP, will review the hospital’s role in successfully partnering with law enforcement. She will discuss how to balance best practices for ensuring the safety of patients as well as the hospital staff. Participants will also learn how they should communicate with law enforcement, as well as how to plan and implement “crucial conversations” between hospitals and law enforcement.

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Access and use the best resources on how hospitals who are treating patients “under arrest” should interact with the police
  • Plan and implement “crucial conversations” between the hospital/healthcare executive team and local law enforcement leadership
  • Use the tenets and teachings of “Verbal Judo” to benefit both clinicians and law enforcement first responders
  • Understand how hospitals can support and help facilitate law enforcement’s “guardians of the peace” mentality as they partner with hospitals
  • Apply enterprise security risk management (ESRM) to situations that may arise

Presented on:
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
1:00-2:30 p.m. Eastern

Presented by:
Lisa Terry, CHPA, CPP

Level of Program:
Intermediate

To register or get more information, please visit the event page at HCMarketplace.com.

CMS Cites Baltimore Hospital for Abandoning Patient in January

A Baltimore hospital was cited by CMS in a report released this week for its actions in removing a mentally ill patient from its emergency room (ER) and leaving her at a bus stop wearing just a hospital gown. The Washington Post reports that the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) was cited for failing to comply with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

The hospital came under fire in January after a bystander filmed the incident as the woman was left by security guards at a bus stop on a cold night. According to the Post, the patient was admitted to the hospital earlier that day after a fall from a motorized bike. She was cleared for discharge, but resisted and refused to dress, the report said. Security then dropped the patient off at a nearby bus stop, where the man who filmed the incident and then called for an ambulance. The woman was brought back to the hospital and then taken to a homeless shelter in a taxi without an exam, and it was not registered that she returned to the facility, the Post reports.

According to the Baltimore Sun, CMS found that UMMC violated a federal law that hospitals must protect and promote each patient’s rights. The hospital also was found to have violated the woman’s right to receive care in a safe setting, to be free from all forms of abuse or harassment, and her right to confidentiality of records because non-clinical staff were given access to or made aware of part of the patient’s medical history. CMS also found that UMMC failed to meet data collection and analysis standards and failed to perform quality improvement activities.

The Sun reports that the hospital has now begun to record every time patients visit the ER. It also conducts audits of the patient log each month, provides additional staff training on federal requirements, and keeps ER doors unlocked. The staff bylaws were updated to specify who can perform medical screenings.

In a statement reported by the Post, a UMMC spokesperson admitted that mistakes were made. “We take responsibility for the combination of circumstances in January that failed to compassionately meet our patient’s needs beyond the initial medical care provided. While our own thorough self-examination revealed some shortcomings, the regulatory assessment punctuates the necessity to more firmly demonstrate our unwavering commitment to safety quality, compassionate patient care.”

EMTALA, in general, requires hospitals to care for patients with emergent conditions, regardless of their ability to pay. Violations of EMTALA are often cited by CMS surveyors under patients’ rights or failure to do an adequate medical screening exam. In addition to potentially impacting a hospital’s accreditation or ability to bill Medicare, EMTALA violations can also come with a civil penalty, which can reach nearly $105,000 for each citation. The newspaper reports did not mention whether the hospital was fined in relation to the CMS findings.

Like CMS, you should pay attention to sexual harassment

With all the recent focus on sexual harassment in the workplace, healthcare organizations shouldn’t expect to avoid scrutiny. Especially not from CMS or the press. Sexual harassment always has been an issue in healthcare, and it’s not hard to find examples. Like the California surgeon who slapped a nurse’s rear every morning while saying “I’m horny.” That behavior and the facility’s inaction led to a $168 million lawsuit, plus months of bad publicity.

“I suspect we’re going to see much more attention to this in healthcare, because it’s in the headlines,” says Kate Fenner, PhD, RN, managing director of Compass Clinical Consulting. “We know that we have some healthcare incidents that have gotten national attention. We know that CMS takes this seriously, Joint Commission takes this seriously. So healthcare organizations need to review their vows about how they provide a safe working environment for employees.”

The Joint Commission requires that its accredited facilities meet all applicable laws (Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, for example, the recognition of sexual harassment as an infringement on civil rights for employees), and CMS is stringent about protecting patient rights (CMS Tag A-0145), including the right to receive care without harassment.

“Regulators and surveyors (CMS and The Joint Commission) pay careful attention to the news and trends in public interest,” Fenner says. “Allegations of improper conduct such as that recently lodged against a physician then practicing at a highly regarded medical center pique regulator interest and focus attention.”

Editor’s Note: You can learn more about sexual harassment in the April editions of Patient Safety Monitor Journal and Briefings on Accreditation and Quality. 

Surgeon sued for double booking surgery

There’s a reason why the American College of Surgeons (ACS) recommends asking patients if they’re okay with a concurrent surgery before operating. A Manhattan doctor found that out the hard way, after two former patients sued him last month for $14 million, according to the Boston Globe.

The patients claim that David B. Samadi, MD, chief of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital, allowed doctors-in-training to perform their prostate surgeries, and was only present for 25 minutes for one of the surgeries. Further, they claimed they were put kept under general anesthesia longer than necessary to hide Samadi’s absence, and that the operations were botched.

Last year, a review of more than 2,000 neurosurgical cases published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no greater risk of postoperative complications for patients operated on by surgeons conducting overlapping surgeries. That said, the ACS guidelines are clear that patients need to know about and consent to an concurrent surgery before a provider does one.

Bradley T. Truax, MD, principal consultant of the Truax Group, says that patients should absolutely be informed if you plan to do their surgery concurrently.

“It is one thing for the surgeon to discuss with the patient that other personnel (residents, fellows, surgical assistants, etc.) will be participating in their surgery,” he says. “But the surgeon needs to make it clear what their roles will be and that the attending surgeon him/herself may not be present for the entire procedure.”

Study: ED intervention reduces suicide attempts by 30%

How much of a role can emergency departments (ED) play in preventing suicide attempts? The world’s largest study of 1,376 suicidal patients gave the answer.

By implementing interventions at the ED, hospitals were able to lower the of risk patients attempting suicide again by 20% compared to if they are treated as usual (TAU). Researchers also found that “there were no meaningful differences in risk reduction between the TAU and screening phases.”

The study, called the Emergency Department Safety Assessment and Follow-up Evaluation (ED-SAFE), was the largest suicide intervention trial to date, covering patients from eight EDs and seven states.

“Results indicated that the provision of universal screening, while successful in identifying more participants, did not significantly affect subsequent suicidal behavior compared with that experienced by participants in the TAU phase,” they wrote. “By contrast, those participants who received the intervention had lower rates of suicide attempts and behaviors and fewer total suicide attempts over a 52-week period.”

With around 42,000 deaths annually, suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for American men, the 14th for American women, and the 10th overall. Annually, there are 460,000 ED visits that occur following cases of self-harm and a single ED visit due to self-harm increases future suicide risk by almost sixfold, according to the study.

The study compared a control group of patients who were given TAU, a group that was just screened, and one group that was screened along with interventions.

Intervention efforts included additional suicide screening, suicide prevention info, and a personalized safety plan for dealing with future suicide ideation, and periodic telephone follow-ups. Those who got these interventions made 30% fewer total suicide attempt than others.

“We were happy that we were able to find these results,” said lead author Ivan Miller, PhD, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, in a statement. “We would like to have had an even stronger effect, but the fact that we were able to impact attempts with this population and with a relatively limited intervention is encouraging.”

Overall, 21% of those studied made at least one suicide attempt within 12 months. Those in the TAU group had a 22.9% suicide attempt rate, while in the screening group it was 21.5%. The intervention group only had a rate of 18.3%. Of all patients studied, there were five fatal suicide attempts.

Communicating patient rights with physcians and staff

You can have the best policies and procedures in the world, but if communication and understanding by those who need to know is not available, the intent of the patient rights chapter will never come to fruition. The chapter captain assigned to patients’ rights, with guidance from the accreditation director, should develop a communication plan to ensure that everyone in the organization understands his or her roles and the impact the chapter holds in relation to job responsibilities and functions.

The first step in a communication plan is to include aspects of this chapter in the job application form and credentials application. Those applying for jobs and physician privileges need not apply if they are not willing to adhere to and respect patients’ rights. For example, you could include the following language in your application:

By signing this application, I agree to treat patients and families with respect, ensure the patient’s privacy and confidentiality of health information, and to review the patient’s rights and responsibility notice.

Communication regarding patients’ rights should always be part of orientation to new board members, physicians, and staff. Some hospitals require all three groups to sign a document attesting that they will abide by and uphold these rights.

Ongoing communication is important for compliance with the patient rights chapter. In particular, the following topics should be considered for educational sessions or communication reminders:

  • Respecting cultural and personal values, beliefs, and preferences
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Understanding how patients understand (i.e., health literacy)
  • Advance directives and end-of-life decisions
  • Informed consent
  • Research/clinical trials
  • Dealing with disruptive people (e.g., physicians, staff, patients, family members)
  • Identifying neglect, exploitation, and verbal, mental, physical, and sexual abuse
  • Resolving patient complaints

Note: This blog post is an excerpt from The Chapter Leader’s Guide to Patient Rights: Practical Insight on Joint Commission Standards by Jean Clark, RHIA, CSHA.