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Recent news and updates from the Professionals Advocate Risk Management department will be posted here.

Patients' No. 1 Complaint? Front-Desk Staff
May 13, 2016

A study of nearly 35,000 online reviews of physicians nationwide has found that customer service is patients' chief frustration, not physicians' medical expertise and clinical skill.

Click here for the full release.

Department of Homeland Security Issues Ransomware WArning to Hospitals
April 25, 2016

In response to a series of ransomware attacks that crippled healthcare systems across the country, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), and the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) released a warning on specific types of ransomware used in recent attacks. The warning is directed at all organizations that use networked computer systems, but specifically mentions healthcare facilities and hospitals.

Click here for the full release.

The Zika Virus: What You Need to Know
February 3, 2016

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus, and its suspected links to birth defects, as an international public health emergency.

Click here for the World Health Organization Fact Sheet.
Click here for the Center for Disease Control Information Center.

FDA outlines cybersecurity recommendations for medical device manufacturers
February 2, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a draft guidance outlining important steps medical device manufacturers should take to continually address cybersecurity risks to keep patients safe and better protect the public health. The draft guidance details the agency’s recommendations for monitoring, identifying and addressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities in medical devices once they have entered the market. The draft guidance is part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and effectiveness of medical devices, at all stages in their lifecycle, in the face of potential cyber threats.

Click here for more information.

AHRQ Releases Patient Safety Tool
January 18, 2016

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently announced the release of a new Action Planning Tool to assist healthcare professionals improve patient safety in almost any healthcare environment. Designed to be used by those who are already utilizing AHRQ's Surveys on Patient Safety Culture, the "tool" provides guidance on how to turn those survey results into a program for enhancing patient safety. Included in the tool is an Action Plan Template to help users document goals, needed resources, and timelines for improving the patient safety culture whether care is delivered in a hospital, medical office, nursing home, or ambulatory surgery center. Those wishing to view the Action Planning Tool may do so by clicking here.

AMA Reaches ICD-10 Deal
July 8, 2015

In a joint press release, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA) announced new guidance to assist healthcare professionals in the transition to ICD-10, the disease classification system that has been used internationally for years but had not been previously implemented in the United States. The organizations announced parallel education programs, including "webinars, on-site training, educational articles, and national provider calls" to help all healthcare providers prepare for the switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 which will occur on October 1, 2015.

In addition, CMS announced that for the first year of implementation it will not deny claims simply because the ICD-10 code is inaccurate—so long as it comes from the appropriate "family of codes." Also, CMS will not penalize doctors if the transition causes difficulty in calculating scores under various quality programs and will authorize advance payments to physicians whose claims are not processed within certain time frames due to difficulties stemming from the transition to ICD-10.

CMS stated that it would, at AMA's request, create an ICD-10 Ombudsman to help healthcare professionals transition to the updated coding system. While certainly helpful to the medical community, the announcement appears to mark AMA's retreat from its prior efforts to have ICD-10 implementation delayed again, or to allow the simultaneous use of ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes after the October 1 deadline.

Volunteer for Final ICD-10 End-to-End Testing Week by May 22
May 15, 2015

Physicians who want to ensure their claims will be processed by Medicare following the Oct. 1 implementation of the ICD-10 code set should volunteer by May 22 for a special end-to-end testing week being conducted by CMS July 20-24.

Physicians will have a chance to test sample claims using ICD-10 codes with Medicare Administrative Contractors and the Common Electronic Data Interchange contractor. The testing is available to those physicians who submit claims directly to Medicare. Click here to download an application form.

BREAKING: FDA issues endoscope warning following superbug outbreak
February 19, 2015

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a general warning to health providers regarding the use of medical endoscopes for complex endoscopic procedures. Click here for more details.

Meaningful Use - CEHRT
December 11, 2014

In the December 2014 issue of MEDICAL MUTUAL Notes from the Chair newsletter, an article reminded readers about demonstrating meaningful use of Certified Electronic Health Record Technology. Click here for more information from the CMS.

Lararoscopic Power Morcellators
November 24, 2014

In an updated safety communication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using laparoscopic power morcellators. Click here for the full alert.

Physician Payment Sunshine Act


CMS 'Sunshine Act' Portal Delayed; MMS, AMA Petition to Push Database Launch to March 31, 2015.

CMS will delay the public launch of a new a portal listing payments from drug and medical device makers to physicians. The agency's Open Payments System will not be open to the public on Sept. 30, though no new launch date was specified. There has been widespread concern among the medical community about the accuracy and integrity of the database, especially after glitches left the portal unusable for most of this week.

Original Story:

On September 30th, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will publish payments providers received from drug and device manufacturers as part of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. Physicians who register with CMS can review their Physician Payment Sunshine Act data and correct any errors reported by pharmaceutical and drug manufacturers before they’re made public. Registration is available under the CMS Enterprise Portal.

To assist Physicians in preparing for the release, the American Medical Association (AMA) has created an online Physician Sunshine Act Toolkit which contains information about the release, steps to register, and an app to track payments.