Month: July 2013

ONC plan aims to protect patients through EHR data analysis alone

In a move that has disappointed many safety-minded experts and organizations, the federal government has declined to establish a new agency designed to investigate certain technology-related patient deaths at this time. Rather, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is putting in place a collaborative plan to prevent these particular kinds of patient deaths.

Currently, more and more healthcare providers and hospital facilities are shifting towards electronic health records (EHR) instead of paper-based charts. These electronic records are meant to reduce rates of communication-related errors and misdiagnosis. However, the technology itself has the potential to create new kinds of errors resulting from software glitches, implementation challenges and data input problems.

The Institute of Medicine has recommended that the government create a new agency tasked specifically investigating patient deaths tied to EHR-related errors and other technology-based problems. The government is declining to act on this recommendation at this time. Instead, the ONC will work with public and private organizations to attempt to prevent these deaths in the first place.

Prevention of patient deaths through trend-related data analysis is absolutely a goal worthy of pursuit. However, such initiatives fail to address those deaths which have already occurred and continue to occur in a focused way. It seems that both prevention and investigation of tragedy are necessary in order to both foster patient safety in the future and bring justice to the victims of technology-related medical errors.

The ONC is making important progress by embracing its new prevention-related mission. However, targeted investigations into deaths that do occur are necessary for patient safety and justice as well.

Source: Forbes, “Government Asks Health IT Industry To Police Itself On Patient Safety,” Zina Moukheiber, July 5, 2013

Cravens and Noll, an experienced Virginia law firm, takes great pride in the trust our clients place in our counsel. In a time of crisis, experienced trial attorneys can provide the solutions needed, at a reasonable price. Providing quality legal representation, our law firm will develop a comprehensive strategy based on your unique financial situation. Before taking a case, Cravens and Noll lawyers provide free consultations for clients, we will never give you false expectations about the potential outcome of your case. You can count on a realistic assessment of your case, in order for you to make a sound decision.

Study: Racial disparity exists in marijuana-related arrest rates

Newly released federal data suggests that a disturbing trend has developed in regards to drug arrests in America. The data indicates that in 2010 alone, black Americans were arrested for simple possession and related marijuana charges at rates between three and eight times higher than white Americans were. This data is particularly disturbing given that the rates at which black and white Americans tend to possess and use marijuana are roughly the same.

Federal law only recently began to address the racial disparity in sentencing for cocaine-related offenses. It now seems that reform is needed in other areas of federal drug law enforcement. If a primary goal of the criminal justice system is to be consistent in application and general enforcement of the law, then these statistics strongly indicate that some mechanism within the system is broken and doing a disservice to the system’s larger goals.

After reviewing the data, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) constructed a report analyzing it which was released this month. The lead author of the work is the director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project. He recently explained that “We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner.”

As the public’s attitudes toward marijuana shift in favor of legalization in certain contexts, legislators and law enforcement will likely slowly begin to focus away from cracking down on offenses like simple possession. But for many reasons, this shift in focus does not delegitimize the fact that reform is needed urgently. Any time one population is held accountable for criminal activity in far greater numbers than another population similarly engaged in illegal behavior, discrimination threatens the integrity of the system as a whole. For that reason alone, this issue is in need of immediate reform.

Source: The New York Times, “Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Federal Data Suggests,” Ian Urbina, June 3, 2013

Cravens and Noll, an experienced Virginia law firm, takes great pride in the trust our clients place in our counsel. In a time of crisis, experienced trial attorneys can provide the solutions needed, at a reasonable price. Providing quality legal representation, our law firm will develop a comprehensive strategy based on your unique financial situation. Before taking a case, Cravens and Noll lawyers provide free consultations for clients, we will never give you false expectations about the potential outcome of your case. You can count on a realistic assessment of your case, in order for you to make a sound decision.