Friday, October 30, 2009
The Financial Times reports:
"Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of the labour department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said that in spite of Lord Browne being replaced as BP chief executive after the blast, BP continued to violate US safety regulations under the leadership of Tony Hayward.
“There are some serious systemic safety problems within the corporation,” Mr Barab said.
“That there are so many life-threatening safety problems at this plant means there is still a systemic problem.
To read more about OSHA click here.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Full Committee Hearing
10:00 AM, October 29, 2009
2175 Rayburn H.O.B
Watch live testimony click here.
- U.S. Sen. Harry ReidNevada
- Jordan BarabActing Assistant Secretary of LaborFederal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- Debi Koehler-FergenMother of worker killed at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas
- Don JayneAdministrator
Nevada Division of Industrial RelationsDepartment of Business and Industry
- Franklin MirerProfessor of environmental and occupational healthHunter College of the CityUniversity of New York
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Latex allergy claims have long been held compensable in workers' compensation courts throughout the country. The original claims arose out of exposure to latex protein in gloves that came into use as a result of the AIDS epidemic.
A case of latex allergy reaction has been reported in Australia during a vaccination program. While the vaccine and the vial are supposedly latex free, the packing material may not be, and that may have trigger the reaction. One in 100 people are thought to have an allergy to latex.
Reactions to latex may be mild or transitory or may be a permanent sensitization causing hives, shortness of breath, total disability and possible death.
For more articles on Workers' Compensation and the Flu Pandemic click here.
To read more about compensable latex allergy claims click here.
A case is pending against the seven pharmacies (Wal-Mart, Longs Drugs, Walgreen Co., CVS Pharmacy, Rite-Aid, Sav-On and Lam’s Pharmacy) that dispensed 4,800 tablets of the drug for Copening in the 13 months prior to the fatal accident.
The Nevada Prescription Controlled Substance Abuse Task Force had notified the pharmacies that Copening was “taking an unusual amount of these narcotics.” The vehicle causing the accident was commercially owned by a physician who was involved in a relationship with the driver.
The Nevada Supreme Court will be deciding whether the pharmacies, previously dismissed by the trial court, are liable because they dispense enormous amounts of drugs to Copening that resulted in drug abuse and resulting the fatal accident.
Where the perimeter of liability may end is unknown. Workers' Compensation insurance companies and their integrated pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) dispense many narcotics, on an ongoing basis, for pain relief, to injured workers. The courts may ultimately deem them unprotected by the "exclusivity rule," and they, as ultimate wrongdoers, may become targets for these tragic yet foreseeable events.
To read more about drugs and workers' compensation click here.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Those modifications are:
"If the President declares an emergency or disaster and the Secretary declares a public health emergency, the Secretary may waive sanctions and penalties against a covered hospital that does not comply with certain provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule:
- the requirements to obtain a patient's agreement to speak with family members or friends involved in the patient’s care (45 CFR 164.510(b))
- the requirement to honor a request to opt out of the facility directory (45 CFR 164.510(a))
- the requirement to distribute a notice of privacy practices (45 CFR 164.520)
- the patient's right to request privacy restrictions (45 CFR 164.522(a))
- the patient's right to request confidential communications (45 CFR 164.522(b))
1. In the emergency area and for the emergency period identified in the public health emergency declaration.
Monday, October 26, 2009
A certified nurse assistant, Amelia Mendoza, age 52, of West Covina, California, was attacked twice in the same week by a patient while working at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena earlier this year. Amelia suffered injuries that resulted in her suffering a stroke in April, falling into a vegetative state and contracting pneumonia. The hospital insurance carrier cut off medical care for her, forcing her from the hospital, and leaving her family responsible for medical care for Amelia’s work-related injury that is the hospital’s responsibility.
Her husband, Ralph Mendoza, who met with reporters and supporters outside the hospital, commented, “I am shocked and extremely disappointed that Huntington Hospital would treat Amelia this way. Amelia gave her all to her job for more than six years, and she deserves better….Amelia was injured doing her job, and the hospital has avoided its responsibility for months. I watch my wonderful wife, a mother of four children, slip away in a vegetative state and I wonder whether she would be healthy today if the hospital had met its responsibility. I want the medical care that my wife deserves.”
After an attack by a violent patient, Amelia was examined in the hospital’s Emergency Room and told to return to work. After a second attack just two days later, Amelia went to the Emergency Room and was told to go to Huntington Hospital’s in-house workers’ compensation clinic. The hospital was aware that Amelia’s blood pressure was dangerously high after the attack, and that the patient had infectious diseases. The hospital even called Amelia and her husband to warn of the health dangers Amelia faced. Yet the hospital’s clinic turned Amelia away, saying they were too busy to see her. Amelia suffered a stroke less than three hours later. The attacks had caused bleeding in her brain.
“The workers’ compensation carrier, Sedgwick, has denied liability for Amelia’s medical care, claiming that their investigation did not support a claim of injury and no medical evidence supports the claim either,” said Amelia’s attorney, Chelsea Glauber of the Glauber/Berenson Law Firm. “Medical evidence does in fact exist which states in no uncertain terms that Amelia’s condition was caused by these attacks at work. Amelia is trapped in a horrible hell, between two insurance companies trying to avoid responsibility. So Huntington Hospital let Amelia go home, in a vegetative state, to be taken care of by her husband, who no matter how loving and well intentioned, is not qualified to provide the critical care that Amelia needs and deserves. What does it say about these insurance companies and a hospital that they would treat a hard-working human being in this awful manner?”
A recent report on insurance companies denial rates reveals that, “When it comes to claim denials, insurers may be putting profits ahead of patients’ best interests. Most major insurance companies have reassigned their medical directors—the doctors who approve or deny claims for medical reasons—to report to their business managers, whose main responsibility is to boost profits.”
An inefficient system is not helpful to anyone, including injured workers, insurance companies, and employers. Wasteful administration should be curbed. The U.S. healthcare system wastes between $505 billion and $850 billion every year, recently reported Robert Kelley, vice president of healthcare analytics at Thomson Reuters.
Lawmakers must concentrate the U.S. health debate on how the delivery of medical care can be more efficient and effective. Delays and denials presently occurring in the workers’ compensation system continue to highlight the fact that injured workers need a universal health care system.
Selections were made by the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation Law Center staff using feedback from community members and Larson’s National Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board members.
The Top 25 Blogs contain some of the best writing out there on workers' compensation and workplace issues in general. They contain a wealth of information for the workers' compensation community with timely news items, practical information, expert analysis, practice tips, frequent postings, and helpful links to other sites. These blogsites also show us how workplace issues interact with politics and culture. Moreover, they demonstrate how bloggers can impact the world of workers' compensation and workplace issues.
Published by Jon L. Gelman
"This prolific and widely respected blog analyzes trends and developments in workers’ compensation law nationwide. Workers’ Compensation blog provides both a bird’s-eye view of the national scene and the low down on what’s happening on the ground level in each state."
A Call for Suggestions: Top Blog of the Year - 2009
The next step will be to determine which of the 25 honorees will receive Top Blog of the Year 2009. The LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation Law Center looks forward to hearing the comments of our community members. Deadline for comments is November 11, 2009. The LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation Law Center Staff will review all comments and then select the #1 blog of the year. Register - click here.
To visit the Workers' Compensation Blog click here.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Pending before the US Supreme Court is a petition for a writ of certiorari to review a decision where: the employer, insurance company and their experts were found to have conducted themselves in violation of the RICO Act.
As the US flu vaccination program rolls out, the numbers are also growing for those who have reported adverse consequences from the H1N1 vaccine. The victims and their families are also lining up for benefits available in the workers’ compensation system as well as the Federal program. The existence of these programs have received little publicity and may be difficult for the public to navigate without adequate representation.
- You may file a claim if you received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that you have been injured by this vaccine.
- You may also file a claim if you are a parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that the person was injured by this vaccine.
- You may file a claim if you are the legal representative of the estate of a deceased person who received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that the person’s death resulted from the vaccine injury.
- You may file a claim if you are not a United States citizen.
- Some people who receive vaccines outside of the U.S. may be eligible for compensation. The vaccines must have been covered by the VICP and given in the following circumstances:
- the injured person must have received a vaccine in the U.S. trust territories; or
- if the vaccine was administered outside of the U.S. or its trust territories:
- the injured person must have been a U.S. citizen serving in the military or a U.S. government employee, or have been a dependent of such a citizen; or
- the injured person must have received a vaccine manufactured by a vaccine company located in the U.S. and returned to the U.S. within 6 months after the date of vaccination.
- lasted for more than 6 months after the vaccine was given; or
- resulted in a hospital stay and surgery; or
- resulted in death.
The VICP program has paid over $1.8 billion dollars from 1989 through 2009. Over 2,300 families have been paid to date with over 2,200 attorneys representing clients in such matters. "Compensated" are claims that have been paid as a result of a settlement between parties or a decision made by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Court). Approximately 18% of the benefits were paid to adults who received vaccines during the existence of the program. Since the program was expanded to adults who received vaccinations, the proportion of benefits to adults under the program has increased proportionally. Nearly 52% of program awards in 2007 and 2008 went to adult vaccine recipients.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Disabled workers over the age of 65 have difficult decisions to make concerning health insurance. Those who rely upon workers’ compensation and Medicare to cover all their medical costs are in for a rude awakening. John D. Podesta and colleagues reported difficulties in the present system that seniors utilize. “The gaps in coverage, the high cost of insurance, and the quality of care that consumers receive are the most frequently cited problems" in the present medical delivery system. Disabled workers will also have their strife compounded by the fact that Congress anticipates an increase of 15% in basic Medicare premiums next year.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
In an urgent need to protect healthcare workers from H1N1 Flu, the today CDC has issued guidance on infection control measures to prevent transmission of 2009 H1N1 influenza in healthcare facilities. The CDC continues to recommend that healthcare workers take time away from work if they are ill. The issue unanswered is whether workers' compensation insurance will pay temporary disability benefits for the absence?
The CDC has defined healthcare personnel as, "....For the purposes of this guidance, healthcare personnel are defined as all persons whose occupational activities involve contact with patients or contaminated material in a healthcare, home healthcare, or clinical laboratory setting. Healthcare personnel are engaged in a range of occupations, many of which include patient contact even though they do not involve direct provision of patient care, such as dietary and housekeeping services. This guidance applies to healthcare personnel working in the following settings: acute care hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, physician’s offices, urgent care centers, outpatient clinics, and home healthcare agencies. It also includes those working in clinical settings within non-healthcare institutions, such as school nurses or personnel staffing clinics in correctional facilities. The term “healthcare personnel” includes not only employees of the organization or agency, but also contractors, clinicians, volunteers, students, trainees, clergy, and others who may come in contact with patients."
- Instructed not to report to work, or if at work, to promptly notify their supervisor and infection control personnel/occupational health.
- Excluded from work for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
For more articles on Workers' Compensation and the Flu Pandemic click here.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
To read more about CMS and Workers' Compensation click here.
The employer asserted that assaults could be anticipated and were normal working condition. " SEPTA's workers' compensation coordinator Michael Selvato testified about the records of assaults on operators in an effort to show that the incident was not abnormal. He explained that between June 1 and November 1, 2005 there were 292 passenger disturbances on SEPTA busses and 11 assaults on operators; between November 1, 2005 and June 1, 2006 there were 738 disturbances and 33 assaults; and between June 1, 2006 and June 25, 2007 there were 62 assaults on bus drivers. Selvato noted that there had been two bus drivers threatened with a gun from the beginning of 2007 until the time of the hearing on August 23, 2007. During his time as a trolley driver for SEPTA, Selvato had not been accosted with a gun, but he had been assaulted and threatened with a knife."
In ruling against the worker, the Appeals Board concluded that the working conditions were normal for the job and that the injured worker had not sustained the burden of proof to demonstrate that his "his injury was not a subjective reaction to normal work conditions."
McLaurin v. W.C.A.B. (SEPTA) , 2009 WL 2612578, Pa. Comwlth. 2009)
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The Public Education Center (PEC) has published the second in a series of investigative articles concerning the toxic exposure of Army National Guard Units to cancer-casuing chemicals allegedly released by a government contractor, KBR, Inc.
The exposure was a result of a release by KBR, Inc. to, “...dichromate, a rust-fighting industrial chemical and highly-concentrated hexavalent chromium compound, Hexavalent chromium.” Hexavalent chromium has been described as the most toxic chemical known to man.
The series entitled, “No Contractor Left Behind,” chronicles “...chronicles how a toxic time bomb followed three Army National Guard units home from Iraq. It reveals how a notorious military contractor exposed American soldiers to a cancer-causing carcinogen on the battlefield and how the Pentagon tried to downplay the consequences. And it describes how Congress has relegated its investigation to a toothless forum that lacks the political clout and oversight powers to ensure effective accountability.”
A law suit has been filed by 30 West Virginia National Guardsman because of the exposure. Last month a Pittsburg shoulder who served in Iraq and was also exposed filed a law suit seeking damages for the consequences of his exposure.