APIC conference updates: A legal perspective

By: November 19th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

More updates from APICs “Healthcare-associated infections: A changing legal and regulatory landscape. For the first post on opening remarks, click here.

Unfortunately I didn’t catch all of this session, but I’ll pass along what I did tune into:

Sheila Namm, Esp., R.N., MA, currently the vice-president of professional affairs at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, talked about the relationship between risk management and infection control:

  • Namm said risk management and infection control are both small departments within themselves, but are both closely aligned in what they do. She suggested that the two departments cooperate with one another to share work rather than duplicate work.
  • One of the things the two departments have in common is they don’t have control over anyone in the hospital. Both groups function off of knowledge, close relationships with a variety of people in the facility, and the respect they engender with others.
  • Namm touched briefly on the regulation in New York that required healthcare workers to receive the seasonal and H1N1 flu shots. She noted the tremendous fear among healthcare workers and the enormous distrust of the government.

One of the lawyer’s that spoke at this session, Nickolas McConnell, the director of the law firm of Jackson & Campbell, P.C., in the District of Columbia, went over a couple key considerations concerning the defense of a healthcare institution, particularly regarding infections.

  • He emphasized that the most important point to take away from today’s presentation is that your standard of care is buried in your policies and procedures. Those policies and procedures should reflect CDC best practices.
  • During litigation they are going to determine if there was anyone who departed from the standard of care, such as failure to comply with hand hygiene. “Proof is simplest thing in the world if you don’t comply with your own policy and procedures,” McConnell said.
  • A court will also look at if that departure from the standard of care harmed the patient.
  • McConnell also said there is a huge concern with electronic information. There is tremendous data buried in the background of computers that provides very specific information for a plaintiff such as when a specimen got to lab, how long it took to get there, who brought it, etc.
  • He mentioned he was quite concerned about the Michigan study because it proved healthcare facilities could approach zero infections. “It’s going to be very hard two years from now to argue that fact or defend how it happened,” McConnell said.

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