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A roadmap for diagnostic labs: Federal regulations

Diagnostic labs, like any business within the health care industry, are subject to federal regulations. A failure to abide by these rules can result in serious consequences, including steep financial penalties and, if the violation is severe, potential imprisonment. Because of the seriousness of these penalties, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of the applicable regulations. Some of the more well-known include:

Nurse managers: Two tips for success in 2020

2020 has been a year of adaptation for those in the medical field. Doctors, nurses and medical professionals throughout the health care system must adapt to the changes that have come with the Coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals were reconfigured to better ensure they could serve patients, many elective procedures were postponed or canceled and those providing care were required to take additional steps to protect themselves and their patients from exposure to the virus.

As patient admissions grow, will medication errors also spike?

Pockets throughout the country are experiencing a jump in COVID-19 cases that require medical intervention. As a result, local facilities are finding themselves facing an onslaught of patients. This surge can lead to physically and mentally overwhelmed medical professionals working to provide quality care in a rushed and urgent environment -- not a combination that can prove successful over an extended period of time. As a result, it is not a surprise that medical leaders are voicing concerns about a potential for a spike in medication errors.

A recent interview with an intensive care unit nurse notes that hospitals in this situation are in "pandemic nursing care" mode.

Do diagnostic labs need a voluntary compliance program?

Government officials continue to investigate and prosecute allegations of health care fraud throughout the medical community. Hospitals, physicians, chiropractors, dentists and diagnostic labs are all open to investigations and allegations of wrongdoing. Leaders within these markets can take steps to proactively reduce the risk of such allegations. One example: putting together a voluntary compliance program.

Nurse accuses TX hospital of retaliation

A nurse from Texas with over two decades of experience recently filed a civil suit against a local hospital. The lawsuit states the hospital moved forward with illegal retaliation when officials decided to fire the nurse for making complaints about patient safety within the facility. Here is a timeline of how the issue progressed:

What happens when the feds accuse a doctor of criminal activity?

A federal investigation can result in criminal charges, but what does this mean? The implications of these charges can vary, depending on the details of the alleged crime. But, when the allegations involve a medical professional, the impact extends beyond dealing with the court system. The accused will also need to deal with their local medical licensing board.

3 things to know about HHS' recent investment in diagnostic labs

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced it will invest $6.5 million into two commercial diagnostic labs. The agency has stated it expects the labs, one in Nashville, TN the other in Austin, TX, to use the funds to boost staffing and infrastructure with an ultimate goal of increasing their COVID-19 testing capacities.

Can you get sued for not filling opioid prescriptions?

As the government continues its crackdown on the opioid crisis, whether or not a pharmacy could find itself the center of a lawsuit for failing to fill an opioid prescription may seem like a surprising question. And yet, that is exactly what three big companies are currently facing. CVS, Walgreens and Costco were all named in a recent lawsuit for not filling opioid prescriptions. The lawsuit claims that because these pharmacy giants failed to fill these prescriptions, patients are unable to continue to manager pain from chronic conditions.

And its not the only one. At least one additional lawsuit is moving forward against Walgreens and Costco that makes the same claim.

DOJ accuses TX company of billions in health care fraud

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is continuing its scrutiny of groups that provide Medicare Advantage plans. Just over a year ago, the Office of Inspector General reported that these plans led to billions in risk-adjusted payments that were not supported by specific services provided to patients - ultimately leading to allegations of health care fraud. This report has likely led to increased scrutiny of these programs, as recently highlighted in a case out of Texas.

TMB threatens TX doc with reprimand for COVID-19 claims

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) recently issued a statement calling out a local physician for allegedly making false claims about the potential benefits of certain treatments for COVID-19. The TMB reminded the doctor and those within the medical profession at large that it has the authority to reprimand medical professionals who provide “false, misleading, or deceptive” medical claims.

Any treatment conversation with a patient, continued the TMB, must include a discussion of potential side effects. The TMB also reminded physicians they must get informed consent before moving forward with treatment, even for COVID-19 patients.

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