OIG calls for CMS guidance to address fraud vulnerabilities in EHRs   01/08/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should provide best practices and guidance to its contractors for detecting potential fraud associated with electronic health records, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General recommended in a report released today. In addition, CMS should direct its contractors to use EHR audit logs when reviewing medical records, OIG said. In the report, CMS agreed with the first recommendation, noting that it intends to develop guidelines to ensure appropriate use of the copy paste feature in EHRs. It said audit logs “may not be appropriate in every circumstance and should be part of a comprehensive approach to reviewing the authenticity of EHRs.” According to a report released by OIG last month, hospitals are employing many recommended safeguards against fraud in their EHRs. The December report looked at the extent to which hospitals that received EHR Medicare incentive payments between January 2011 and March 2012 implemented certain fraud safeguards recommended by Office of the National Coordinator contractor RTI International.
NIH institute launches pediatric palliative care campaign   01/08/2014
The National Institute of Nursing Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, has launched a campaign to increase the use of palliative care for children with serious illness. The Conversations Matter campaign “emphasizes that palliative care works along with other treatments to enhance quality of life for children of any age living with a broad range of serious illnesses,” NINR said. “In particular, the campaign strives to break the common association between palliative care and hospice care, stressing that palliative care is appropriate throughout illness – not only at the end of life.” The campaign includes resources to help providers initiate palliative care conversations with pediatric patients and their families.
HHS to host webinar on identifying health IT safety hazards   01/08/2014
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will host a Jan. 10 webinar on its new guide to help health care organizations identify health IT safety hazards. For more information and to register for the webinar, which begins at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, click here.
FDA issues safety warning about certain OTC laxatives   01/08/2014
The Food and Drug Administration today warned that using more than one dose in 24 hours of over-the-counter sodium phosphate drugs to treat constipation can cause rare but serious harm to the kidneys and heart, citing reports of severe dehydration and changes in serum electrolytes from taking more than the recommended dose. FDA said consumers and health care professionals should always use these oral solutions and enemas as recommended on the Drug Facts label and not exceed the labeled dose. Caregivers also should consult with a health professional before giving the oral products to children aged 5 or younger, the agency said. Others who may be at higher risk when the recommended dose is exceeded include people over age 55; patients who are dehydrated or have kidney disease, bowel obstruction or inflammation of the bowel; and patients who are using medications that may affect kidney function, the agency said.