12/10/2007 - The security rules from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) go into effect in April 2005 for most organizations (a year later for healthcare organizations and other covered entities that do below a certain threshold level of business), giving institutions less than a year to get ready. An Introductory Resource Guide for Implementing the HIPAA Security Rule, a new draft paper from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), can help those responsible for implementing the security rule to understand the rule's concepts while pointing them to standards and other references and explaining key terms and acronyms. @ Link to the NIST paper by visiting SM Online.
Legal Report: Legal Issues
12/04/2007 - One bill (H.R. 2728) introduced by Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) would allow businesses extra time to reply to OSHA citations. Under current law, businesses have 15 days to respond. However, H.R. 2728 would allow OSHA to grant exceptions to this deadline in cases where the employer failed to comply due to "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." Another bill (H.R. 2731) also introduced by Norwood would allow small businesses--those with fewer than 100 employees and a net worth of less than $7 million--to seek reimbursement of attorney's fees if they successfully contest an OSHA citation. Such fees could be collected from the government even if the citation was "substantially justified."
News & Trends: Government Reports (GAO etc.)
11/29/2007 - Nursing home fires in Hartford, Connecticut, and Nashville, Tennessee, last year killed 31 residents. As old facilities grandfathered from federal fire-safety standards on new facilities, neither had sprinkler systems. The GAO has called for the federal government to work with the National Fire Protection Association to strengthen fire-safety standards and to improve oversight of nursing home fire safety, such as by reviewing exemptions granted to facilities without sprinklers.
Cybersecurity: ID issues \ Identity Theft
11/29/2007 - A Seattle man recently pled guilty in the first criminal conviction under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that went into effect a year ago.
Healthcare: Legal Issues
11/28/2007 - The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University turned to online training to get staff and students up to speed on HIPAA's Security Rule.
Case Study: Terrorism
11/28/2007 - The University of Iowa strengthens its ability to identify symptoms of bioterrorism.
International: Contingency Planning \ Disaster Management
11/27/2007 - Only collective action will stem the spread of future pandemics, says the World Health Organization.
Legal Report: Legislation
11/27/2007 - The government's Project Bioshield, which requires that the government and private industry produce and stockpile vaccines to protect Americans in the event of a terror attack, became P.L. 108-276. The law has three parts. The first directs the Public Health Service to conduct research and development on biomedical countermeasures through the Director of the National Institutes of Health and the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The second provides these agencies with contracting authority to procure effective countermeasures such as vaccines and serums against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents. The third allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve promising new drugs and devices on an emergency basis.
Legal Report: Physical Security
11/16/2007 - Another new Louisiana law (formerly S.B. 140) will require that background checks be completed for anyone seeking employment with agencies that care for the infirm, such as nursing facilities, healthcare centers for the mentally retarded, adult residential-care facilities, and adult day-care centers.
Legal Report: Legislation
11/14/2007 - Under a new law (formerly S.B. 550), companies that provide nursing services must meet certain state requirements. Before a nursing-referral agency can obtain a license in the state, its owners must undergo a background check from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It must also submit proof that it has a viable complaint-investigation process.
News & Trends: Contingency Planning \ Disaster Management
11/13/2007 - A December 2003 report by Trust for America's Health showed that the nation's public health system was insufficiently prepared for bioterrorism. The prognosis isn't much better more than a year later. A follow-up report concludes that "states across the country are still struggling to meet basic preparedness requirements and have inadequate resources to juggle the competing health priorities they face." Ranking states on ten "key indicators to assess the states' public health emergency preparedness capabilities," the report found Florida and North Carolina to be in the best of health, notching nine of the ten indicators. At the other extreme were Massachusetts and Alaska, which achieved the sickly score of three. Twenty states fell in the middle with a score of six, while another 19 garnered scores of 5 or 7. he ranking was based on indicators such as state spending of federal funds, level of state public-health budgets, bioterror capabilities of state labs, and surveillance and tracking capacity. For example, only five state public-health labs report the ability to adequately respond to a chemical terror threat, while two-thirds of states don't electronically track disease outbreak information using national standards, making early warning difficult. SM Online has the full 72-page report, as well as an executive summary.
11/13/2007 - This month, HIPAA security provisions take effect. Here's what you need to know.
SM Online: Contingency Planning \ Disaster Management
11/09/2007 - Only “collective international public health action” will stem the spread of a future infectious disease pandemic, according to the annual World Health Organization health report. It warns that the threat of a “pandemic of influenza from this virus is still a matter of when, not if.”