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COMPLIANCE

5 ways your medical office can violate HIPAA

The HIPAA Privacy Act is a federal law that was established in 1996 to set provisions and standards for the protection of personal health information. The rule puts limits and conditions on the use and disclosure of patient medical information. It also gives patients the right to obtain a copy, examine, and request corrections to their records. Though most medical practices are very careful to keep their patients’ private health information secure, violations of this act can be costly with penalties ranging from $100 to 1.5 million per incident. Regular and ongoing compliance training for all employees is one of the easiest ways to prevent the improper use of PHI and reduce the risk of a violation. Below are a few common HIPAA violations and steps that can be taken… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Civility & conduct rules, marijuana, and website access & ADA on the HR radar

By Mike O’Brien Get ready to take a new look at your employee handbook. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is widely expected to issue a decision soon that will mean increased scrutiny of common types of workplace rules, including civility and conduct rules. In a case pending before the Board, its General Counsel submitted a brief last month urging a return to an Obama-era standard for assessing the lawfulness of employer rules. A quick primer may be helpful. The NLRB is the federal agency charged with enforcing the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Section 7 of the Act gives employees the right to discuss pay and other terms and conditions of employment, and to engage in concerted activity to improve them. A common misunderstanding is a notion that the… . . . read more.

MOM WEBINAR

Learn about changes and updates to telehealth

There’s a lot you need to know about telehealth. That’s why Medical Office Manager is offering a webinar, Telehealth—What Managers Need to Know, on April 6. It’s free to Medical Office Manager members. Presenter Jen Bell of Karen Zupko and Associates will give you the tools and knowledge you need to comply with new telehealth regulations. Meanwhile here is Jen’s update on telehealth changes to early 2022. POS 10 Telehealth Provided in Patient’s Home Patient is located in their home (which is a location other than a hospital or other facility where the patient receives care in a private residence) when receiving health services or health related services through telecommunication technology. Home may be defined to include temporary lodging (hotels, homeless shelters) and patient travels of short distance from the exact… . . . read more.

HARASSMENT

Russian-American workplace discrimination: It’s a thing now

By Lynne Curry Question: Like many other employees that need highly skilled employees and want to diversify their labor pool, ours has hired several Russian emigrants. Other than coworkers complaining that these employees’ accents make understanding them difficult, we had no problems—until Russia invaded Ukraine. At first, nothing occurred that created worry. Many of our employees knew little about Ukraine and so peppered the emigrants with questions. But as the horror of what was happening in Ukraine continued, our employees grew angrier. Several employees asked their Russian-born coworkers how they could possibly “defend” what was going on. Things got worse when one of the emigrants defended Putin, calling him a strong leader. How much trouble do we get into if we fire this one employee? While she’s technically skilled, she’s… . . . read more.

DRUGS & ALCOHOL

High at work: Anyone else smell that?

By Paul Edwards More often than you would think, we get calls from managers wondering what they can do about someone whom they think is impaired at work. When that happens, we immediately go into crisis control mode because, well, impairment at work is never acceptable. In this article, we are going to discuss impairment and odors from the perspective of marijuana legalization. From job candidates showing up to interviews smelling like a skunk to employees showing up to their shift distracted with bloodshot eyes, knowing how to handle an employee’s potential marijuana use has only gotten more complicated. Currently, marijuana legalization is in limbo between state versus federal government. While many states have moved to legalize or decriminalize its use, marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug under… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Florida’s new “Stop Woke” law impacts workplace training

By Mike O’Brien “Stop Woke” Act passes Florida Senate New legislation in Florida (HB 7) prohibits any teaching that could make students feel they bear “personal responsibility” for historic wrongs because of their race, color, sex, or national origin. But the legislation’s reach doesn’t end in schools. In the workplace, employment practices or training programs that cause an individual to feel similarly guilty could be considered an unlawful employment practice, giving rise to legal liability. The Florida Senate voted 24-15 along party lines to approve a measure labeled “Individual Freedom,” and was seen to be in response to Governor DeSantis’ demand for a “Stop WOKE” Act. You can see more here. New guidance from the DOL on FLSA, FMLA, and Visa programs On March 10 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)… . . . read more.

TECHNOLOGY

Clocked out or connected: What you need to know about after-hours group chats

By Paul Edwards “Quick question…” Those two words have become increasingly popular as our near-constant attachment to communication devices blurs the line between work and personal time. Whether by phone, laptop, or tablet—via Slack, WhatsApp, or Google Chat—it’s easier than ever for teams to stay in contact after the workday is done. But employers need to be cautious about how they approach group conversations outside of the workplace. Not only will you need to ensure that your employees are clear on the standards for professional conduct within a group chat or text, but whether or not you have to pay employees for the time they spend messaging will depend on several factors, including the content of the messages, how much time is spent messaging, and whether the employees are classified… . . . read more.

CYBERSECURITY

New safeguards and fines follow data breach investigations in New Jersey

Two cases of exposing patient personal information occurred in New Jersey but serve as warnings to all healthcare providers. The state’s Division of Consumer Affairs has reached a settlement with three New Jersey-based providers of cancer care that the State alleges failed to adequately safeguard patient data, exposing the personal and protected health information of 105,200 consumers, including 80,333 New Jersey residents. Under the terms of the settlement, Regional Cancer Care Associates LLC, RCCA MSO LLC, and RCCA MD LLC (collectively, “RCCA”)—all headquartered in Hackensack, but with 30 locations throughout New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland—have agreed to pay $425,000 and adopt additional privacy and security measures to safeguard individuals’ protected health information and personal information to resolve the State’s investigation into alleged violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act… . . . read more.

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

Harassment continues in era of remote work

By Mike O’Brien  In the early days of the pandemic, there was speculation that workplace harassment would decrease when so many workers shifted to remote work. Some recent surveys indicate that hasn’t been the case, and that incidents of harassment have been increasing. Possible reasons for this spike include the stress of the pandemic, the fact that remote workers may lack the kind of personal connections with colleagues that might otherwise hinder poor behavior and a more casual approach to conversations due to working in a more relaxed environment. Zoom meetings have also provided a whole new forum for trouble, with employees behaving badly (sometimes while thinking they are off-camera). The quick and unexpected shift to remote workforces may also have left many employers unprepared for the challenge. To combat… . . . read more.

AWAITS SIGNATURE

Forced arbitration of sexual assault and harassment coming to an end

By Mike O’Brien The United States Senate passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act in February. The legislation had previously been approved by the House of Representatives, and now awaits President Biden’s signature. Once signed, the new law will amend the Federal Arbitration Act to make pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements unenforceable with respect to claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment. Rather than being required to arbitrate such claims, the employee-plaintiff will have the option to bring the case in court or before an arbitrator. The bill had broad support in both political parties. Importantly, the law does not apply to arbitration agreements for other types of employment-related claims. Employers who use mandatory arbitration agreements should consult with experienced employment law counsel about how this… . . . read more.


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