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HIPAA compliance checklist

Having a complete HIPAA compliance program is important to your organization. Run through this HIPAA compliance checklist to see if you have your foundation of HIPAA compliance in place and easily retrievable. HIPAA Policies and Procedures HIPAA privacy policies, procedures, and forms HIPAA security policies, procedures, and forms HIPAA Breach Notification policy and procedure Most recent Notice of Privacy practices Privacy officer’s job responsibilities and contact information Security officer’s job responsibilities and contact information HIPAA workflows and evidence of compliance Most recent HIPAA Risk Analysis Most current HIPAA risk mitigation/risk management documentation Business Associate agreements with list of Business Associates Workforce HIPAA training, periodic HIPAA updates, HIPAA training log Password policies by system Workstation security practices (anti-virus, password requirement, password timeframes, workstation use, etc.) HIPAA documentation specific to the organization… . . . read more.

MANAGING STAFF

Dare we ask our coworkers: Are you safe?

By Lynne Curry bio Question: We have a small eight-person medical admin office. We don’t interact with the patients. Although we’ve worked remotely for the past year, we’ll be moving back into the office in the next few weeks. We’re generally looking forward to it, Most of my coworkers have been vaccinated. We talk on Zoom about how happy we are to have gotten vaccinated and compare side-effect stories. Two of our coworkers don’t participate in these discussions. I suspect they haven’t been vaccinated and don’t intend to get vaccinated. Am I allowed to ask? Is it necessary or appropriate to have different rules regarding masks for different employees; for example, “masks aren’t required unless a meeting includes person “x”? Can we forgo masks all the time and figure any… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Most of your medical office employees are vaccinated. Now what?

By Lynne Curry bio Most of your office staff have received vaccines. Those who remain unvaccinated either haven’t decided whether they will or have refused to get vaccinated. What’s next? Can you relax your workplace protocols? How do you handle the conflicts between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees and those who differently interpret safety protocols? New CDC guidance In recent weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided new COVID-19 guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.1 Fully vaccinated individuals may interact indoors with other vaccinated individuals without wearing masks or physically distancing. Fully vaccinated individuals, except for those who live in a group setting or themselves experience COVID-19 symptoms, no longer need to quarantine and test if they’ve been around someone who has COVID-19.2 Fully vaccinated individuals do need to… . . . read more.

HUMAN RESOURCES

How to conduct a virtual investigation

By Lynne Curry bio Question: We have a messy situation we need to investigate involving 12 and possibly more employees at remote locations. Nine months ago, we laid off our human resources officer. The accounting manager and I inherited many of her duties. Both of us have investigated minor issues in each of our departments, and our former human resources officer left a good protocol for conducting investigations in her file. The protocol calls for bringing involved individuals into the corporate office to interview them. In the past, we spent considerable money flying employees in from the field for interviews. We lack the financial resources to do that this time. Also, while we know who was immediately involved in the situation, we won’t know which other individuals we may need… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Pandemic fatigue feels like it’s starting over

By Dan Scungio bio In discussions with healthcare safety professionals across the country this year, some of the same safety issues seemed to crop up over and over. Lab staff are tired, they’re fatigued about dealing with COVID-19, and they just don’t seem to be focused on lab safety anymore. They aren’t following good safety practices, they aren’t wearing gloves, lab coats, masks, or even eye protection. Of course, this is a problem that needs attention. The hazards faced in the workplace are not limited to coronaviruses, and these unhealthy practices can lead to some bad outcomes. Despite the pandemic, this issue with staff is not a new one. Those who have worked in lab settings for years can easily become complacent about safety. They begin to notice over time… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

How to create an enhanced cleaning and disinfection policy for your medical office

In the age of COVID-19, complying with the rigorous hygiene requirements of OSHA and other standards may not be enough. That’s because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health guidelines mandate that work facilities still in operation undertake special enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures. This is particularly the case for healthcare sites. Here are the rules and how to comply. There’s also a Model Policy on this website that you can adapt for use at your own facility. What’s at Stake SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus, spreads by human-to-human contact and can live on a surface or object for up to seven days. The virus can be killed but it takes the right products and procedures. That’s why public health agencies are requiring employers… . . . read more.

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Medical Office Worker’s Acknowledgement of Decision to Decline COVID-19 Vaccination

It behooves you to ensure that medical office staff get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect not only themselves but also co-workers, patients and others at your facility. But what if workers neglect or just plain refuse to be vaccinated? There are two basic options: Option 1: Require medical office workers to be vaccinated Option 2: Encourage medical office workers to be vaccinated voluntarily If you select Option 2, require workers to sign a form acknowledging that they were offered the vaccine and voluntarily declined to accept it and list the reasons for doing so. Here’s a Model Policy you can adapt.

COMPLIANCE

Can you require medical office workers to get the COVID-19 vaccination?

Although it’s clearly a positive development for the world at large, the almost miraculous emergence of a vaccine for COVID-19 in less than a year poses legal challenges for employers in general and medical office staff and other healthcare providers in particular. The Question: Can employers require their workers to get the vaccine? Bottom Line on Top: The answer is probably but not 100 percent certainly YES. And even if a mandatory vaccine policy is justifiable, it’s also subject to strict restrictions. Legal justification for mandatory vaccination policies Even though the COVID-19 situation is new and unprecedented, we can still discern the boundaries with regard to employers’ rights to demand that workers get vaccinated. Specifically, we know that OSHA, courts and arbitrators have historically upheld mandatory flu vaccination policies (as… . . . read more.

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Model visitors’ waiver of COVID-19 infection liability form

As long as COVID-19 remains a threat, you run the risk of being sued by patients, vendors, guests and other visitors (“visitors”) who claim they contracted the virus at your office as a result of your inadequate safety measures. One way to limit liability is having visitors sign a form agreeing to waive their rights to sue you for COVID-19 infections before entering the office. Although there’s no guarantee that a court would enforce such a waiver, the Model Form below uses fairly conservative language that has been found to be enforceable in other situations. Caveat: The inclusion of the phrase purporting to insulate you against your own negligence in Sections 3 and 4 is fairly risky and you may want to talk to counsel about whether to use it… . . . read more.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Has OSHA done enough to enforce COVID-19 safety rules for medical offices?

Even after the election and swearing in of the new President, federal government response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains a politically charged issue. One area of contention involves whether OSHA has done enough to protect healthcare workers and other workers exposed to the virus. On Jan. 8, the agency issued a statistical report documenting its COVID-19 enforcement efforts starting with the beginning of the pandemic and running through Dec. 31, 2020. Employer liability for COVID-19 violations under OSHA laws Nobody disputes that under OSHA, medical offices and other employers have a duty to protect workers from risk of COVID-19 infection. What may be less clear, is the source of that duty. Neither the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act) nor the regulations say anything about COVID-19 or, with a few… . . . read more.


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