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Win Free Cookies*

Win a Dozen Free Cookies when you leave a comment on one of our other posts and complete our survey. *Limitations apply and only one winner will be selected. Check back to see who the winner is. It could be you!

Do you like chocolate? Likely we will be giving away our popular chocolate chip cookies. Which cookie is your favorite? Tell us why?

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Snow Harvesting

Snow Water Harvesting On Our Urban Site

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Does it snow where you live? Have you considered harvesting snow? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Scientists turn CO2 into jet fuel

It could lead to net zero emissions for air travel.

Jon Fingas@jonfingas
December 27, 2020
Source: Engadget

A Rolls-Royce engine is seen on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner owned by ANA Holdings Inc. in Everett, Washington, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Alwyn Scott/File Photo
REUTERS/Alwyn Scott/File Photo
Source: Engadget
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Researchers may have found a way to reduce the environmental impact of air travel in situations when electric aircraft and alternative fuels aren’t practical. Wired reports that Oxford University scientists have successfully turned CO2 into jet fuel, raising the possibility of conventionally-powered aircraft with net zero emissions.

The technique effectively reverses the process of burning fuel by relying on the organic combustion method. The team heated a mix of citric acid, hydrogen and an iron-manganese-potassium catalyst to turn CO2 into a liquid fuel capable of powering jet aircraft.

The approach is inexpensive, uncomplicated and uses commonplace materials. It’s cheaper than processes used to turn hydrogen and water into fuel.

There are numerous challenges to bringing this to aircraft. The lab method only produced a few grams of fuel — you’d clearly need much more to support even a single flight, let alone an entire fleet. You’d need much more widespread use of carbon capture. And if you want effectively zero emissions, the capture and conversion systems would have to run on clean energy.

The researches are talking with industrial partners, though, and don’t see any major scientific hurdles. It might also be one of the most viable options for fleets. Many of them would have to replace their aircraft to go electric or switch fuel types. This conversion process would let airlines keep their existing aircraft and go carbon neutral until they’re truly ready for eco-friendly propulsion.

From cars to jets, are we ready for eco-friendly travel? Why? Why not?

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Growing health care fraud drastically affects all of us

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012
BY LAUREN E. DAVIS, CFE, ASA
Source: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners

Rx for Fraud: Health care fraud issues

Welcome to the new health care fraud column. In May, U.S. authorities charged 107 people — including doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for allegedly trying to defraud Medicare of about $452 million, the largest Medicare fraud sweep to date. “Health care fraud shows no sign of abating,” said Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the ACFE, during his recent keynote message at the 23rd Annual ACFE Fraud Conference & Exhibition. “Don’t expect a downturn any time soon because governments have a long history of being able to dole out money without keeping very good track of it.”

In this inaugural column, Lauren E. Davis, CFE, ASA, a consulting manager with Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C., describes other recent cases, pertinent U.S. legislation and governing agencies, typical schemes and ways to detect and deter health care fraud. — ed.

SeptOct-healthcare-costs.jpg 
BARIS SIMSEK/ISTOCKPHOTO 
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Health care fraud is a serious problem affecting every patient and consumer. The devastating situation is rooted not only in the excessive financial losses incurred, which extend into the billions of dollars every year, but also in patient harm. It’s estimated that the economic cost of fraud related to health care in the U.S. is 3 percent to 10 percent of all healthcare spending — an estimated $68 billion to $260 billion annually.  

Fraudsters commit a wide variety of schemes against private and public insurance companies by filing fictitious health care claims to generate profits. As health care costs rise, so will the costs associated with these schemes. Consumers then will endure rising insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

RECENT HEALTH CARE FRAUD INDICTMENTS

The successful prosecution of individuals charged with committing health care fraud is an essential step in the deterrence of fraudulent activity. The punishment of health care fraud perpetrators can include such serious consequences as fines, incarceration and even the loss of the provider’s right to practice in the medical profession. The following are examples of recent fraud indictments:

Medicare Fraudulent Billing Scheme — Justice News, June 2012 
Various individuals, including owners, the CEO and other senior employees, of American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), a mental health company in Miami, have been convicted or named as defendants for their participation in a $205 million Medicare fraud scheme involving fraudulent billings. The defendants are alleged to have billed Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars for services that were either unnecessary or never provided to the patients, and based on fraudulent documentation. Some key participants — ATC’s executives, Lawrence Duran, Marianella Valera, Judith Negron, and Margarita Acevado — were sentenced to 50 years, 35 years, 35 years and 91 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the fraud scheme. 

Settlement of False Claims Act allegations — Justice News, December 2010
Detroit Medical Center, a non-profit company that owns and operates hospitals and outpatient facilities in Detroit, allegedly engaged in improper financial relationships with referring physicians. The company has agreed to pay $30 million to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Statute. 

Medicare fraud scheme — Justice News, December 2010
The owner and vice president of Wayne County Therapeutic Inc. were sentenced to 151 months and 108 months in prison, respectively, and ordered to pay $6.5 million in restitution. The two were the leaders in a $23 million Medicare fraud scheme, which included the filing of false claims for physical and occupational therapy services that were never provided

Medicare and Private Insurance Fraud Scheme — Justice News, June 2012
Boris Sachakov, M.D., owner and operator of Colon and Rectal Care of New York, P.C., was found guilty on one count of health care fraud and five counts of health care false statements. The indictment alleged that Sachakov submitted more than $22.6 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and private insurance companies for surgeries and medical services that were never provided and received in excess of $9 million on those claims. Sachakov faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison and an $18 million fine. 

Organized crime health care fraud — Justice News, October 2010
A total of 73 defendants, including alleged members and associates of an organized crime enterprise, were indicted for various fraudulent billing schemes totaling approximately $163 million. The frauds committed included submission of bills for medically unnecessary treatments or for treatments that were never provided, identity theft of physicians and Medicare beneficiaries and the operation of phony clinics for the purpose of submitting Medicare reimbursement claims. 

Would you recognize health care fraud of you saw it? Financial gain is often the reason behind most health care fraud? What other reasons are there? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Surgeon who billed insurers of nearly $30 million pleads guilty to federal fraud charges

Jeff Burlew, Tallahassee Democrat
Source: Tallahassee Democrat

Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson
Source: Tallahassee Democrat
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Dr. Moses deGraft-Johnson, a cardiovascular surgeon who snaked his way into under-served communities to find patients to rip off and deceive for his own financial gain, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

DeGraft-Johnson, owner of the now-shuttered Heart and Vascular Institute of North Florida, was indicted Feb. 4 on numerous counts of health-care fraud and related charges. He pleaded guilty Friday to 56 counts of health-care fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and aggravated identity theft.

He was accused of billing Capital Health Plan, Medicare and others for procedures he never performed at the clinic and walking away with at least $29 million, which he used to bankroll a jet-set lifestyle.

DeGraft-Johnson appeared before U.S. Chief District Judge Mark Walker via video link from the Federal Detention Center in Tallahassee, where he has been held since his indictment was unsealed. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he used churches, nursing homes and at least one hospital to find vulnerable victims, many of whom were subjected to invasive and unnecessary procedures. His crimes left some patients unsure about the veracity of their own medical records and what treatment they may actually need.

The back story:

Prosecutors: Tallahassee cardiovascular surgeon bilked health insurers of $23 million

Poached patients, phantom surgeries and betrayal: Feds call $23 million scheme a ‘cancer’

Tallahassee surgeon expected to plead guilty in massive federal health-care fraud case

Federal prosecutors said they will continue to work to uncover all aspects of deGraft-Johnson’s scheme so patients can be properly informed and treated.

“It is critically important that we do everything within the scope of our authority to help the patients preyed upon by this criminal doctor, in order to seek recovery of the $29-million-plus that he fraudulently received and to prevent similar schemes from happening in the future — both by deterring the would-be perpetrators and by educating those they would exploit,” U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe said in a written release.

Prosecutors also vowed to “aggressively pursue” all of his forfeitable assets in the United States and abroad, including luxury cars, jewelry, watches, more than $1 million in cash and homes in and around New York City, Miami and Houston.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Florida Attorney General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Grogan serves as lead prosecutor.

Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville Division, said such fraud reduces the availability of critical resources and contributes to the rising cost of medical care.

“Today’s plea is a direct result of the commitment by the FBI and our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who willingly defraud American citizens,” she said in a news release. 

Degraft-Johnson, 46, was born in Ghana but immigrated to America with his family as a child, settling in the Houston area. He had a storied medical career — including reportedly saving the life of rapper 50 Cent, who came into his Queens trauma ward in 2000 with gunshot wounds.

In recent years, he divided his time between Tallahassee, where he had a downtown condo, and New York City, where his wife and children resided. He joined Capital Regional Medical Center’s staff in 2014, working as an independent doctor until sometime before his crimes came to light.

He had numerous business ventures in the U.S. and Africa, including a hamburger restaurant, a nightclub and a failed effort to build a hospital in Ghana. He even aspired to run one day for president of Ghana; one of his family members served as vice president of the country in the early 1980s.

Kimberly Austin, who worked as an office manager at the institute, was also charged by a federal grand jury in Tallahassee. She pleaded guilty last month.

Degraft-Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each of the fraud and conspiracy counts, another maximum sentence of two years for the identity theft and hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential fines. He will be sentenced April 8, 2021, at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee.

Contact Jeff Burlew at jburlew@tallahassee.com or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.

How far will doctors go to commit fraud? Some have reported doctors appearing in the community where they are including coming on their jobs. Health Insurance Fraud cost taxpayers and insurance companies billions and sometimes trillions of dollars annually. For some patients it costs them their life due to poor health outcomes due to medical fraud. When asked about the frequent appears of medical professionals at locations where their patients where in public, we were told that it is public space. What are your thoughts on this matter? How is this different from stalking and what are the HIPPA implications? The department of Justice prosecutes several health care fraud cases every year. What are the economic implications for the areas where medical care fraud is rampant and the medical industry is large?

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Michelle Obama, Let Girls Learn

Source: White House
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Working together to open the doors of education for girls around the world.

Source: White House
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

To educate a girl is to build a healthier family, a stronger community, and a brighter future. Unfortunately today, more than 62 million girls around the world are not in school—half of whom are adolescents. We know that countries with more girls in secondary school tend to have lower maternal mortality rates, lower infant mortality rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS, and better child nutrition.But too often, a girl who could change her world for the better is locked out of that future by the circumstances of her birth or the customs of her community and country.

We know that a girl with an education can shape her own destiny, lift up her family, and transform her community. That is why President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative aimed at helping adolescent girls attain a quality education that empowers them to reach their full potential.

As huge supporters of women and women owned business we could not agree more that letting girls learn is important in so many ways particularly their health. What are your thoughts on promoting education among girls? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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How state marijuana legalization became a boon for corruption

12/27/2020 06:50 AM EST
By MONA ZHANG
Source: Politico

By making local officials the gatekeepers for million-dollar businesses, states created a breeding ground for bribery and favoritism.

Marijuana
Ed Andrieski/AP Photo
Source: Politico
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

In states’ rush to limit the numbers of licensed vendors and give local municipalities control of where to locate dispensaries, they created something else: A market for local corruption.

Jasiel Correia’s star was rising.

The son of Cape Verdean immigrants in the working-class Massachusetts port city of Fall River — famed as the home of Lizzie Borden — Correia was a home-grown prodigy. At 23, he was elected mayor, fielding congratulatory calls from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Joe Kennedy.

That was in 2015. Four years later, just a week before his reelection race, federal agents ignominiously led him away from his home in handcuffs and charged him with attempting to extort cannabis companies of $600,000 in exchange for granting them lucrative licenses to sell weed in his impoverished city.

“Mayor Correia has engaged in an outrageous brazen campaign of corruption, which turned his job into a personal ATM,” declared U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling during a press conference announcing the charges.

The downfall of Fall River’s young mayor wasn’t just a tragedy for the thousands of people who invested their hopes in him: It was emblematic of a rash of cannabis-related corruption across the nation, from Massachusetts to California to Arkansas and beyond.

In the past decade, 15 states have legalized a regulated marijuana market for adults over 21, and another 17 have legalized medical marijuana. But in their rush to limit the numbers of licensed vendors and give local municipalities control of where to locate dispensaries, they created something else: A market for local corruption.

Almost all the states that legalized pot either require the approval of local officials — as in Massachusetts — or impose a statewide limit on the number of licenses, chosen by a politically appointed oversight board, or both. These practices effectively put million-dollar decisions in the hands of relatively small-time political figures — the mayors and councilors of small towns and cities, along with the friends and supporters of politicians who appoint them to boards. And these strictures have given rise to the exact type of corruption that got Correia in trouble with federal prosecutors. They have also created a culture in which would-be cannabis entrepreneurs feel obliged to make large campaign contributions or hire politically connected lobbyists.

For some entrepreneurs, the payments can seem worth the ticket to cannabis riches.

For some politicians, the lure of a bribe or favor can be irresistible.

Correia’s indictment alleges that he extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from marijuana companies in exchange for granting them the local approval letters that are necessary prerequisites for obtaining Massachusetts licenses. Correia and his co-conspirators — staffers and friends — accepted a variety of bribes including cash, more than a dozen pounds of marijuana and a “Batman” Rolex watch worth up to $12,000, the indictment charges.

CANNABIS

“The state Is given full control in an industry where there is so much competition — where everyone realizes how valuable these licenses are,” said Lorenzo Nourafchan, CEO of Northstar Financial Consulting, which works with cannabis businesses.

Nourafchan cited some friends who submitted “incredible applications” for Missouri medical marijuana licenses only to see the licenses go to large, multistate operators: “It just seemed to me and many others that it was not fair … people were not given objective and unbiased treatment.”

What are your thoughts on this article? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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How Do HIPAA Laws Impact Employers (and HIPAA Compliance Checklist)?

Source: Business
Dec 18, 2020

When does HIPAA apply to employers, and how should they ensure compliance? This guide answers common employer questions about HIPAA obligations.

In the healthcare industry, patient data is considered sensitive and, as such, is subject to certain privacy and security requirements to ensure it remains confidential. Some employers may find themselves handling this protected health information (PHI) and could be required under federal law to handle that data in a specific way. It is important for all employers to understand the federal law known as HIPAA and how it applies (or doesn’t apply) to them.

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that establishes privacy standards by which healthcare organizations are required to protect sensitive patient information. Since it was signed in 1996, HIPAA has been updated periodically to evolve alongside technology, adapting to include cybersecurity standards required of all “covered entities” and their business associates.

What is the HIPAA Privacy Rule?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule is the section of the law that specifically relates to the confidential handling and transmission of patient healthcare data. Measures in the Privacy Rule include an enumeration of individuals’ rights under the law, such as how they can control and access their own healthcare information.

Moreover, the Privacy Rule prescribes how healthcare organizations and other covered entities and business associates must handle protected health information. This includes requirements governing both process and technology; not only must protected health information be handled properly, but it must also be stored securely.

“It requires you to protect and maintain the security of PHI, which is a defined term that deals generally with health information that can be identified and tied to a specific individual,” Paul Starkman, an employment attorney for Clark Hill, told businesss.com. “It deals with how the information must be protected in terms of encryption, password protection and things like that. It also deals with transmission … and it has some other requirements too in terms of disposing [of] PHI once it is no longer needed.”

Starkman said this includes information from paper files, digital files and machines and equipment that become outdated or are no longer in service.

“Those need to be disposed of in accordance with HIPAA guidelines,” he said.

Which types of businesses does HIPAA apply to?

The stringent requirements included in HIPAA don’t apply to all employers – just those that fall into a certain category.

The term “covered entities” refers to organizations that are required to comply with the rules set out under HIPAA. Covered entities include doctors’ offices, hospitals, insurance companies, insurance plans and clearinghouses. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a full list of covered entities on its website.

“HIPAA is primarily going to apply to covered entities,” said Jarryd Rutter, an HR coach at Paychex. “That is where HIPAA is most impactful: for those industries and obligations, not only to customers but their employees.”

Rutter noted that Paychex does not give its clients legal advice and recommended that businesses consult with legal counsel if they are concerned about their HIPAA obligations.

HIPAA also applies to organizations that do business with covered entities and handle or process patients’ protected health information in some way. These organizations are known as “business associates” under the law and are also required to abide by HIPAA regulations.

“Sometimes we get pushback from a client we are helping because they are hesitant to send documents out of concern they are violating HIPAA when, in fact, they are not,” Rutter said. “A non-covered entity doesn’t have to be concerned with HIPAA; it’s really limited to if they offer health insurance plans and the handling of that health insurance info.”

Other employers are generally not covered by HIPAA and, therefore, are not required to abide by the strict privacy and security regulations included in the law. However, Rutter said, non-covered entities likely have some privacy and security obligations under other federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  

When does HIPAA apply to non-covered entities?

Although HIPAA doesn’t apply to most businesses, there is one unique circumstance in which employers should be aware of the law’s requirements. Employers that provide a self-funded health insurance plan are technically operating a covered entity: the health plan itself. This means the health insurance plan is subject to all of the requirements in HIPAA, while the primary business is not.

“Because that self-funded plan … is viewed as a covered entity, the health plan falls under HIPAA,” said Matt Fisher, healthcare attorney at Mirick O’Connell. “You end up having to wall off the information used for maintenance and operation of that plan. But, on the whole, HIPAA will really not apply to the general employer and employee relationship.”

Another common way employers come into contact with an employee’s PHI is through workers’ compensation claims, Fisher said. In these instances, clinical documentation from medical appointments might be required to support the workers’ compensation claim, and employers would need access to that information.

However, just because an employer has access to this data, it does not necessarily mean HIPAA applies.

“Generally, the health information employers get through the employment relationship is not going to be covered by HIPAA,” Starkman said. “It may be covered by other state privacy laws.”

In the example of a workers’ compensation claim, HIPAA would govern the healthcare provider’s handling of protected health information and its release to the employer; the employee would be required to consent to this transmission of their healthcare data. Once that consent is given and the information is received by the employer, however, HIPAA no longer applies.

What are examples of HIPAA violations?

HIPAA violations can be costly, so it is important to avoid even unintentional violations. Civil penalties for HIPAA violations can exceed $50,000 per violation. Violations committed with malicious intent could result in criminal charges – in the most egregious cases, up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

The first step in avoiding HIPAA violations is knowing some of the most common ones.

Unreported data breaches

Healthcare organizations are a major target for cybercriminals attempting to breach the networks and steal sensitive healthcare data. Covered entities must report data breaches to the individuals affected, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and sometimes the media.

To avoid data breaches, ensure that your antivirus software is up-to-date and that all data is encrypted in storage and transmission. Update your software on all connected devices regularly to patch vulnerabilities exploited by hackers. Decommission outdated devices and remove them from your network; dispose of them per HIPAA regulations. Loss of devices

There are thousands of connected medical devices in any given hospital, all of which contain protected health information. The loss or theft of these devices could lead to the loss of sensitive data unless they are properly password-protected and encrypted in accordance with HIPAA. A failure to do so that results in a data breach is a HIPAA violation that could be easily avoided.

Unauthorized access

Employees accessing data they do not need or are not authorized to access usually constitutes a HIPAA violation. To avoid this problem, implement authorization systems that require employees to confirm their identities before accessing restricted information. Establish clear policies and procedures around authorizations and consequences for accessing information fraudulently.

Failure to encrypt data

Under HIPAA, all data must be encrypted. The law does not specify a precise standard, but the National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 128 at a minimum. Failure to encrypt devices, data in storage and data in transit likely constitutes a HIPAA violation. Avoid this by ensuring that all data in your network is encrypted to the highest possible standard.

HIPAA compliance for employers

If you are a covered entity or a business associate of a covered entity, HIPAA regulations apply to you. To ensure you remain compliant, follow this useful HIPAA compliance checklist from HIPAA Journal:

  1. Identify which audits apply to your organization.
  2. Conduct those audits internally; then analyze the results and determine corrective measures.
  3. Implement the corrective measures and document them. Review compliance annually.
  4. Appoint a HIPAA compliance officer. Alternatively, appoint dedicated privacy and security officers.
  1. Task the HIPAA compliance officer(s) with training all employees on HIPAA obligations.
  2. Document HIPAA training and staff member completion of the training program.
  3. Annually perform due diligence assessments on any business associates to ensure HIPAA compliance.
  4. Establish processes for reporting breaches and notifying the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

Following this checklist and establishing a clear set of policies and procedures regarding HIPAA compliance can put your organization in a better position to meet the strict privacy and security requirements included in the law.

Employer HIPAA responsibilities and COVID-19

Although HIPAA applies only to covered entities and business associates, the law offers a good list of guidelines for other employers to follow as they implement employee COVID-19 testing and monitor employees for symptoms.

For example, many employers are requiring COVID-19 tests or on-site temperature checks for employees coming to work. Although HIPAA does not apply, handling or recording that type of health information is risky territory, so it behooves employers to adhere to HIPAA-like steps and to document their activities carefully.

“Most employers are really not specifically covered by HIPAA, but it provides best practices that employers generally tend to follow when keeping PHI about employees,” Starkman said. “It should be kept under lock and key, in separate folders from personnel files.

“If you’re [a non-covered entity] with employee health information, you’re covered by different laws,” Starkman added. “Primarily, the ADA has rules regarding how employers need to keep the medical information of employees. They tend to track the HIPAA requirements in terms of keeping files and computer documents under lock and key and in a secure manner.”

Rutter said employers should turn to the ADA and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for guidance on handling employee information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said there are three steps every business should take when implementing COVID-19 testing and monitoring procedures:

  • Document all policies and procedures.
  • Restrict access to employee information to trained employees.
  • Establish protocols in the event of a data breach or unauthorized access.

“Even non-covered entities should do this,” Rutter said. “Taking proactive steps is key for any employer.”

Adam Uzialko

Freelance editor at business.com. Responsible for managing freelance budget, editing freelance and contributor content, and drafting original articles. Also creates product and service reviews to assist business.com readers in buying decisions for their businesses. VP and co-founder of CannaContent, a digital marketing company dedicated to the cannabis, hemp, and CBD industries. Focused specifically on the content marketing arm of the company, creating blogs, press releases, and website copy for clients spanning the entire supply chain. Avid fan and indispensable ally of the feline species. Music lover, middling guitarist, and unprompted vocalist. Miniature painter who loves sci-fi and fantasy. Armchair political philosopher with a tendency to read old books written by men with unusually large beards. Ask me about all things writing!

What happens when medical professional commit fraud and lie to your employers? What should you do when medical professionals try to circumvent the patient and the law?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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What can your doctor legally say?

Source: FGBO Law

HIPAA’s Privacy Rule makes it so that an employer can ask you for a doctor’s note or health information for health insurance, workers’ compensation, sick leave, or other programs. However, the employer cannot call a doctor or healthcare provider directly for information about you. If the employer does call your doctor, you could have a HIPAA violation claim against him or her. The only time an employer can get health information about you directly from your doctor is with your authorization. The only time an employer can go outside this rule is if there is a law giving the employer express permission to do so.

What should you do when your medical information is disclosed without authorization? What should you do when your medical information is disclosed without your knowledge nor consent? Why? Why not?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Researchers find correlation between consistent mask-wearing and improved well-being

Source: News Medical Life Sciences
Dec 24 2020

Since the emergence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), universal masking has been implemented in many countries.

Wearing face masks or coverings can help reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by preventing infectious respiratory droplets from COVID-19 positive individuals from spreading to others when they sneeze, cough, talk, or breathe.

A team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh, UK, found that consistent mask-wearing was associated with positive well-being among their participants.

Study: Face covering adherence is positively associated with better mental health and wellbeing: a longitudinal analysis of the CovidLife surveys. Image Credit: r.classen / ShutterstockStudy: Face covering adherence is positively associated with better mental health and wellbeing: a longitudinal analysis of the CovidLife surveys. Image Credit: r.classen / Shutterstock
Source: News Medical Life Sciences

The study, published on the pre-print medRxivserversurveyed more than 11,000 participants across the UK.

Face covering

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends wearing a face mask as part of a comprehensive strategy of mitigating the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide adequate protection, but it is effective along with other infection control measures.

The health agency also recommends that people wear a mask if they are around other people. When wearing the mask properly, it should cover the nose, mouth, and chin.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge the public to wear face coverings made with cloth. Surgical and medical masks are intended for healthcare workers. This is to avoid depleting the supply of this medical equipment, which is crucial in protecting frontline workers.

The study

The team conducted longitudinal analyses that collected data via the Qualtrics platform between April and June 2020. To arrive at the study findings, the researchers recruited 11,000 participants across the UK who completed the CovidLife surveys, which is an initiative set up by the University of Edinburgh to try and measure and understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s health and well-being. Using this data, the mental health outcomes of the participants were then evaluated.

The researchers found that adherence to face-covering guidelines had no association with poorer mental health. The team also found that people who wore masks consistently had better mental health than those who did not.

Hence, the study offers evidence to suggest that wearing face coverings or masks more often will not negatively impact mental health.

The study found that the odds of feeling anxious were 58% lower among those who always wore their masks. The likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms was 25% lower among people who wore their masks most of the time. Lastly, the odds of feeling lonely were 67% lower among those who always wore their masks.

Indeed, the opposite appears to be the case: stronger adherence to guidelines is associated with less anxiety and loneliness, and higher life satisfaction and wellbeing,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

They also emphasized that wearing face masks alone is insufficient in preventing infection with SARS-CoV-2. Adhering to infection control measures such as washing the hands regularly, maintaining social distance, and avoiding crowded places are crucial factors that should be applied alongside face coverings.

Conclusion

Our data provide strong evidence that following government guidance on face coverings is associated with better rather than poorer mental health and wellbeing,” the team concluded.

Correlation is not to be conflated with causation here. However, the study offers an interesting finding which, the researchers believe, provides evidence that challenges assumptions that consistent mask-wearing can negatively impact mental health and well-being. They thus suggest that their findings “could be an important motivator for continued advocacy by policymakers and adherence by members of the public.”

More research would be needed to fully understand this correlation and it should be weighed up against the ways in which consistent mask-wearing can have negative effects on one’s physical and mental well-being. In short, further study would clarify the implications of this finding.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.Journal reference:

  • Altschul, D., Ritchie, C., Kwong, A., Hartley, L., Nangle, C., Edwards, R. et al. (2020). Face covering adherence is positively associated with better mental health and wellbeing: a longitudinal analysis of the CovidLife surveys. medRxiv. doi.

The study findings agree with past studies that found that not adhering to the rule of wearing face masks can be viewed negatively by others. It reveals the other side to adherence behavior, even though stigmatization or discomfort of wearing masks do or do not harm mental health and well-being.

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo, BSNBy Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo, BSN
Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She is currently completing her Master’s Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and worked as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.

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