Is the VA Worth Saving?

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Veterans Affairs discovers off-label use for HIPAA [Whistleblower Control?]

1-darrellpruitt

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

“VA uses patient privacy to go after whistleblowers, critics say,” by Joe Davidson for The Washington Post, July 17, 2014.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/va-uses-patient-privacy-to-go-after-whistleblowers-critics-say/2014/07/17/bafa7a02-0dcb-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html

Davidson writes:

“Citing patient privacy, managers have threatened VA employees or retaliated against those who complain about agency misconduct, according to a key congressman and the union that represents most of the department’s employees.”

Chairman Jeff Miller Speaks

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), who as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is leading a probe into the cover-up of long waiting times for VA patients, tells the Washington Post that the “VA routinely uses HIPAA as an excuse to punish into submission employees who dare to speak out.”

Davidson adds that in a letter to President Obama earlier this month, Miller said,

“If VA cannot protect whistleblowers who reveal corruption it is not a system worth saving.”

As it turns out, the VA is no stranger to HIPAA. In 2006, the VA agreed to pay a $20 million fine because an agency employee took home records on 26.5 million veterans that were subsequently stolen by a burglar. The lost data included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and medical information.

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Hospital with paper MRs

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In 2012, six years following breach, a humble Roger Baker, the CEO of Veterans Affairs, told reporters,

“Nobody wants to have that same birthmark that we had relative to that laptop. I can tell you for certain that it has had a huge and lasting impact on the VA.”

(See: “6 lasting effects of 2006 VA data breach on privacy, security,” by Mary Mosquera, for GovHealthIT.com, May 24, 2012)

http://www.govhealthit.com/news/6-lasting-effects-2006-va-data-breach-privacy-security#.U8lufPldWz4

Assessment 

I agree with Rep. Miller. The VA is not worth saving.

Conclusion

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Henry Louis Gehrig, eMRs and Healthcare Reform

What’s the “Iron Horse” Got to Do with Health IT?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]Jacobetti VA

According to UPI reports from Charlestown, WVa on August 24 2009, at least 1,200 veterans across the country were mistakenly told by the Veterans Administration [VA] that they suffered from a fatal neurological disorder.

Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32541579/ns/health-health_care/

Panicked Veterans

One of the leaders of a Gulf War veterans group is reported to have said that panicked veterans from the states of Alabama, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming contacted the group about the error. Denise Nichols, the vice president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, reportedly blamed a “coding error” for the mistake. In medicine, we call this a “false positive.”

About Henry Louis “Lou” Gehrig

Henry Louis “Lou” Gehrig (June 19, 1903 – June 2, 1941), born Ludwig Heinrich Gehrig, was an American baseball player in the 1920s and 1930s; chiefly remembered for his prowess as a hitter, the longevity of his consecutive games played record and the pathos of his tearful farewell from baseball at age 36, when he was stricken with a fatal disease. Of course, Gehrig was known as the “The Iron Horse” for his durability. Yet, the irony is that Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [ALS], or Lou Gehrig’s disease [sometimes also called Maladie de Charcot] is progressive and fatal. Lou died in 1941 after developing the illness. Will the same death-spiral happen to eHRs and Obama care?

Link: http://www.lougehrig.com

Assessment

Having rotated through the VA system as a young medical student back-in-the-day, I have never been a fan. It smacked of socialized medicine and government plutocracy, and was never a leading-edge example of domestic healthcare, in my informed opinion. Recent HIPAA administrative, security, IT and clinical medical errors are well known. So, to blame the mix-up on an insurance billing and “coding error” seems somewhat disingenuous. Especially now, at a time when eMRs and the Obama Administration’s healthcare reform itself is being vigorously debated by the citizenry. I mean, are there no human checks and balances? Would there be any human intervention if a public healthcare policy was adopted?

Of course, we have written about military medicine previously on this Medical Executive-Post, and devoted an entire channel to it. And, I do realize that more than fifty percent of us receive similar governmental care in some form, or another [Medicare, Medicaid, CHIPS, the Indian and Prison Healthcare Systems, etc].

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/category/military-medicine/

Nevertheless, shall we give a new moniker to this mistake? How about “Lou Gehrig’s coding error”, and document it in our www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Is it even fair to relate this “isolated incident” to the current healthcare reform debate, the eMR conundrum and/or similar discussions on health Information Technology [IT]? Tell us what you think. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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About: Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies]

Our Print Mission Statement

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™]

Publisher-in-Chief

dem25As Editor-in-Chief of a two volume – 1,200 pages – premium quarterly print journal, I am often asked about our mission statement; or the journal’s raison d’etra.

A Two-Volume Guide

As so, Healthcare Organizations: [Financial Management Strategies], with its quarterly updates, will promote and integrate academic and applied research, and serve as a multi-disciplined communications forum for the dissemination of financial, managerial, business and related economic information to decision makers in hospitals, outpatient centers, clinics, medical practices and all mature and emerging healthcare organizations. 

Target Market and Ideal Reader

Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies] and its quarterly updates should be in the hands of all:

* CFOs, CEOs, COOs, CTOs, VPs and CIOs from every type of hospital and healthcare organization including: public, federal, state, Veteran’s Administration and Indian Health Services hospitals; district, rural, long-term care and community hospitals; specialty, children’s and rehabilitation hospitals; diagnostic imaging centers and laboratories; private, religious-sponsored, and psychiatric institutions.

*  Physician Hospital Organizations, Management Services Organizations (MSOs), Independent Practice Associations (IPAs), Group Practices Without Walls (GPWWs), Integrated Delivery Systems (IDSs) and their administrators, comptrollers, cost accountants, budget directors, cash managers, auditors, healthcare attorneys and consultants,  and actuaries, and all endowment fund directors, executives, consultants and strategic financial managers.

*  Ambulatory care centers, hospices, and outpatient clinics; skilled nursing facilities, integrated networks and group practices; academic medical centers, nurses and physician executives; business school and health administration students, and all economic decision-makers and directors of allopathic, dental, podiatric and osteopathic healthcare organizations.

Assessment

After publication, my suggestion is to read, study and act upon the guide in this way:

1. First, browse through the entire text.

2. Next, slowly read those chapters and sections that are of specific interest to your professional efforts.

3. Then, extrapolate portions that can be implemented in specific strategies helpful to your healthcare setting.

4. Finally, use its’ ME-P updates as a reference manual to return to time and time again; and enjoy!

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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