HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Creighton University School of Law

Monday, November 29, 2010

OIG Issues Roadmap on Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse for New Physicians

A new resource and educational guide for new physicians to help them better understand the key Federal fraud and abuse laws has been issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OIG). Bob Coffield at Health Care Law Blog reports:

The new OIG document is titled, "Roadmap for New Physicians: Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse." The physician education roadmap document summarized the five main Federal fraud and abuse laws, including the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Stark Law, the Exclusion Statute, and the Civil Monetary Penalties Law. The roadmap document provides tips to physicians on how they should comply with these laws in their relationships with payers (like the Medicare and Medicaid programs), relationships with vendors (like drug, biologic, and medical device companies), and relationships with fellow providers (like hospitals, nursing homes, and physician colleagues).

The roadmap guide was developed as a result of a survey conducted by OIG of medical school deans and designated institutional officials at institutions that sponsor residencies and fellowships to learn what types of instruction medical students, residents, and fellows receive on Medicare and Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse. Nearly all respondents (92% of deans and 90% of designated institutional officials) reported they would like OIG to provide educational materials they can use. The complete survey, "Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Training in Medical Education," was recently issued in October, 2010.

You can view online or download a PDF version of the roadmap guidance materials.

November 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New AMA Policy Guides Physicians’ Use of Social Media

Today the American Medical Association announced that it has adopted and issued a new policy offering guidance to physicians on the use of social media. The new policy focuses on helping physicians to "maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship."

The press release indicates that the policy encourages physicians to:

• Use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the fullest extent possible on social networking sites.
• Routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.
• Maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship when interacting with patients online and ensure patient privacy and confidentiality is maintained.
• Consider separating personal and professional content online.
• Recognize that actions online and content posted can negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, and may even have consequences for their medical careers.

Below is a copy of the complete AMA Policy on Professionalism in the Use of Social Media.


The Internet has created the ability for medical students and physicians to communicate and share information quickly and to reach millions of people easily. Participating in social networking and other similar Internet opportunities can support physicians’ personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunity to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication. Social networks, blogs, and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship. Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:

(a) Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.

(b) When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently. Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.

(c) If they interact with patients on the Internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines just, as they would in any other context.

(d) To maintain appropriate professional boundaries physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.

(e) When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions. If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.

(f) Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students), and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.





November 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Research Associate Position in Health Law & Policy at Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

POSITION TITLE: Research Associate (Limited Term). DEPARTMENT: Faculty of Law.          

TERM: 1 year (with possibility of renewal).  Start date immediate. SALARY: $60,000-$73,600 (depending on qualification) plus UT benefits. SUPERVISOR’S TITLE: Professor / Canada Research Chair.      

PURPOSE: The Research Associate (Limited Term) provides research and management support in the execution of the supervisor's role as Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy. Reporting to Colleen M. Flood, a CRC Chair in Health Law and Policy, who is also the outgoing Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute for Health Services and Policy Research, the Research Associate (Limited Term) is expected to provide research services and manage the research portfolio of the Chair.  He or she will be required to maintain positive and continuous interactions with people with whom the Chair has contact, including senior officials in national and provincial organisations that conduct work related to health law and services/policy.

QUALIFICATIONS: Formal Education: Candidates must hold a law degree and/or post-graduate education in health policy and/or political science and/or economics or equivalent combination of education and experience. Project Management certification an asset. Experience: Experience in a university setting as well as experience in preparing manuscripts or research grants an asset. Experience working with multiple strict deadlines and multiple priorities. Other: Must possess excellent communication skills in both oral and written form.  Should demonstrate ability to successfully negotiate and organize complex tasks.  Experience and proficiency using various software programs (Excel, Word, Outlook, Access and Power Point) and use of OECD and other health services/health policy databases.

 DUTIES: Management of the Chair’s research agenda and research assistants (between two and five students). This includes meeting regularly with the Chair to discuss research agenda content, allocation of tasks to research assistants, meeting with RA's to discuss their tasks, and reviewing output from RA's. Development of presentations and speeches: The Chair must often present her work at various research and decision-making conferences and events and the Research Associate (Limited Term) will sometimes be required to help in the development of papers, presentations, power point slides and speech notes. Proofreading and editing of articles, book chapters, and assisting with the research and writing of opinion pieces; minute taking at colloquia and research workshops, etc. Conducting primary research, such as literature reviews and synthesis and legislative analysis, particularly in the areas of public/private financing, comparative health law and policy, governance and accountability, wait time management, regulation of quality and safety, etc. Event Management: Oversees the coordination of details concerning the arrangement of events including: developing budgets and agenda, producing and sending invitations, booking the venue, arranging catering, transportation, security, equipment, and any other required details. These duties are accomplished through constant contact; the incumbent reports directly to the Chair.

Challenges and Difficulties may Include: Being flexible enough to meet tight deadlines and organizing priorities to accommodate new, urgent matters at short notice. Working longer hours in the lead-up to events and meetings. Some travel is required (approximately 5%). Outcome/Consequence of Error: Deadlines for writing (books, articles, opinion pieces, etc) must be met or funding is at risk. Research assistants must be properly managed to ensure quality and timely delivery of research work. Event management is key to ensuring continued funding of research agenda. Budget planning is key to ensure financial success of events and research projects. The incumbent will provide direct support to the Chair.  The travel and work itinerary of the Chair will require that the incumbent work and supervise staff and students independently much of the time.

Please send a letter of interest plus c.v. and a list of references to Bryan Thomas (, ph. (416) 978 5210. Applications should be received by 5pm January 15, 2011.

Hat Tip Ed Richards

November 17, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Catholic Church Holds 'How To' Seminar on Exorcism

The Catholic Church is holding a week- long conference to help its priests and bishops learn to distinguish when a person needs psychiatric or other medical care from when a person needs an exorcism. The goal is not necessarily to revive the practice of exorcism but to identify those who need a medical rather than spiritual intervention so that appropriate medical care can be arranged. The NYT reports:  

The rite of exorcism, rendered gory by Hollywood and ridiculed by many modern believers, has largely fallen out of favor in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.

There are only a handful of priests in the country trained as exorcists, but they say they are overwhelmed with requests from people who fear they are possessed by the Devil.

Now, American bishops are holding a conference on Friday and Saturday to prepare more priests and bishops to respond to the demand. The purpose is not necessarily to revive the practice, the organizers say, but to help Catholic clergy members learn how to distinguish who really needs an exorcism from who really needs a psychiatrist, or perhaps some pastoral care.

November 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)