Workplace Safety

Hospitals Push Hard for Workplace Safety Legislation

MHA’s priority legislation on workplace safety was the subject of a hearing before the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development last Tuesday.
S1093: An Act Requiring Health Care Facilities to Develop & Implement Programs to Prevent Workplace Violence would require Massachusetts to develop and monitor new statewide standards for evaluating and addressing security risks in hospitals, and would require hospitals to implement safety programs – including employee trainings – based on the new standards. It would also require: a written violence prevention plan developed in conjunction with employees; an in-house crisis response team for employee-victims of workplace violence; regular reporting of all assault and assault and battery incidents to the Department of Public Health and local district attorneys; and a process to facilitate more robust information sharing between healthcare providers and public safety officials. The proposal will allow increased penalties to be imposed on those who assault caregivers, and establishes support for employees who are pursuing legal action related to violent incidents.
The bill’s primary sponsor is Sen. Jason M. Lewis (D-Winchester). The House version of the bill (H1976), sponsored by Rep. Michael J. Moran (D- Boston), is slated to be taken up by the Joint Committee on Public Health later this year.
“Hospitals throughout the commonwealth have well-established, stringent policies and procedures in place to address workplace violence, with oversight from state and federal accreditation bodies and regulators,” MHA said in a statement. “These efforts are constantly updated to reflect the latest input from safety and enforcement experts and best practices from around the nation, and these ongoing efforts – including consideration of additional tools such as those required under S1093 – are both necessary and appropriate.”
Working with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering and the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety, Massachusetts hospitals have adopted staff training programs designed to de-escalate security situations before they erupt. In addition, hospitals continue to enhance workplace injury and violence event reporting, including routine debriefing with senior management on incidents and support for employees. These collective efforts are all aimed at continually improving hospital policies, practices, and supportive outreach in an era of constantly evolving threats.

Hospitals Alerted to National Shortage of Immune Globulin Product

DPH issued a notice to hospitals last week indicating that it is aware of the nationwide shortage of Intravenous Immune Globulin (IVIG), and urged pharmacy managers to re-familiarize themselves with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Guidelines on Managing Drug Product Shortages.
IVIG is a product made up of antibodies that is given intravenously to patients whose bodies are, for a variety of reasons, not producing enough antibodies to fight infections. Other patients need IVIG if their own immune system is attacking their bodies’ normal cells.
The FDA has identified three manufacturers whose immune globulin product is in limited supply: GAMMAGARD LIQUID® Immune Globulin Infusion, Gammaplex® Immune Globulin Intravenous, and Cuvitru® Immune Globulin Subcutaneous 20% Solution.

Streamlining Quality Measures

The healthcare sector has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that a variety of quality measure sets exist, oftentimes requiring duplicative reporting, and generating confusion among the consumers they are intended to help.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would convene a summit to streamline HHS’ quality programs. Specifically, HHS will look at ways to re-align quality measures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, among others. The goal is to merge some measures and delete ones that have become outdated. President Trump issued an executive order on June 24 giving federal agencies 180 days to create a new quality roadmap.
Aside from the federal measures, hospitals also report quality metrics to state agencies, health insurance companies, and independent groups. Last Wednesday, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) announced it is expanding the term of the Quality Measurement Taskforce it created in 2017 to recommend an aligned measure set for voluntary adoption by payers and providers in global budget-based risk contracts. The task force will now operate until May 2021, and anyone wishing to serve on it has until July 22 to submit a nomination. Visit here for more information.

Fate of the Affordable Care Act in the Hands of U.S. Appeals Court

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals located in New Orleans heard oral arguments on whether to let stand a U.S. District Court decision last December that struck down the entire Affordable Care Act.
The District Court judge in Texas ruled that since Congress repealed the tax penalty relating to the ACA’s individual mandate, the individual portions of the ACA cannot stand alone and that the entire law must be scrapped.
Hospital interests, consumer groups, 21 Democratic Attorneys General (including Massachusetts AG Maura Healey), and numerous state hospital associations (including MHA) are opposing the District Court decision.
The three justices who heard the case last week grilled both sides closely, but it is unclear how – or when – they’ll issue a decision. This blog post from the American Hospital Association gives a good rundown of what occurred in the courtroom.

The Final 2020 Inpatient Hospital PPS Rule

Friday, August 16; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
MHA Conference Center, Burlington, Mass.

Join us at MHA’s annual program to review the final IPPS inpatient rule- we’ll cover all of the critical changes and updates important to hospitals, including: inflation and program financial updates; changes to the value-based and quality programs; proposals on price transparency; MS-DRG grouping and significant ICD-10 changes; and how to examine other Medicare legislative and regulatory issues applicable to acute care hospitals. Valerie Rinkle, president, Valorize Consulting will lead the discussion. Sign up today by clicking here.

John LoDico, Editor