Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney Blog

New Rating System Helps Patients Choose Hospitals

Disability.gov updatesNew Rating System Helps Patients Compare & Choose Hospitals

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a new rating system to make it easier for Americans to find quality hospital care. Hospital Compare star ratings are based on information from patient experiences at nearly 3,500 Medicare-certified hospitals. The ratings take into account doctors’ communications with patients, how responsive they are to patients’ needs, pain management and cleanliness. Visit Hospital Compare to learn about the quality of care at hospitals near you.

West Virginia Adds Medical Transportation Management (MTM) as NEMT Broker

West Virginia has awarded non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) broker Medical Transportation Management (MTM) the contract to coordinate  non-emergency medical transport services for state residents under Medicaid.  MTM replaces the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) as the “gatekeeper” between the State’s financial resources and the actual NEMT providers. Depending on the contract, which has not been produced, MTM must qualify each transportation provider before allowing the provider to transport West Virginia citizens.

West Virginia has taken this step in response to alleged fraud and mismanagement by NEMT providers on the DHHR. That this is alleged to have occurred is not, in my experience, a surprise. Most government agencies, especially dealing with public health, are not looking, nor are they set up to look for,  contractor fraud. It should be recognized by West Virginia that MTM is not a non-profit organization, and has inserted itself into this situation because they believe they can make a profit.  DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples claims to have the ability to terminate the broker contract after one year, but the reasons for termination have not been provided.

Unfortunately Mr. Staples has not elaborated on what steps, if any, MTM will take to provide safe transportation for West Virginia citizens. Additionally, there is no mention of training, drug screening, and criminal background checks for NEMT providers. If the entire focus is discovering fraud, and not on patient safety, MTM will not be incentivised to move in that direction.  MTM is to begin its contract on June 1, 2014. It is too early to see if this will be a positive transition for West Virginia citizens.

 

FDA Requiring Lower Starting Dose for Lunesta (Eszopiclone)

Risk of impairment the morning after use of sleep aid drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally announced that the sleep drug Lunesta (eszopiclone) should be prescribed, initially, at a lower recommended starting dose. This is due to many factors, but possibly the most important is that eszopiclone levels in some patients may be too high. This has been studied due to women being prescribed the same amounts as men, even though there is data to suggest women process medications at different rates than men, and may be more susceptible to accidental overdoses. Eszopiclone was found at levels high enough, in the morning after use, to impair activities that require alertness, including driving, even if they feel fully awake. There have been a number of accidents where the at-fault driver was under the influence of a sleeping aid taken the night before.

Additional Information About Lunesta (Eszopiclone)

Lunesta Safety Announcement

Additional Information for Health Care Professionals

 

Hospital mistakes kept secret

Recently an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution detailed the secrecy of medical mistakes in Georgia hospitals. The link to the story can be found here: http://www.ajc.com/news/hospital-mistakes-kept-secret-1233859.html

The tragedy is that many Georgia individuals and families cannot afford basic health care, and those who do receive care cannot find out what, if any, mistakes have happened at their facility. Accidents happen. Doctors are not infallible. This is not about blaming doctors and hospitals. It’s about knowing which facility is better at caring for its patients. There is a link here: Read Full Article

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