New Organization for Healthcare Paralegals Launches

J0399159 Robin Margolis is at it again.  This industrious paralegal has started another organization for paralegals that fits the current trends in the field.  The Healthcare Paralegal Federation has been formed to meet the needs of healthcare paralegals, paralegals interested in learning more about healthcare law specializations, and legal professionals who are interested in the growth of paralegals in this field.

Margolis, an experienced paralegal from Washington DC and New York, has started two other paralegal organizations that are going strong:  e-Discovery Paralegal Network and The Association for Intellectual Paralegals. Why healthcare? 

"At the time that the paralegal profession originated in the early 1970s," says Margolis, "paralegals interested in healthcare primarily worked in medical malpractice for law firms. But over the last thirty years, healthcare paralegals have expanded into other incredibly diverse niches."

These niches include:

* healthcare law, legislation, regulation, and lobbying within law firms;

* insurance and corporate matters in health insurance company offices;

* legal nurse consultant businesses;

* medical malpractice groups in law firms;

* healthcare newsletter and website editing for law firms and legal publishing companies;

* patent counsel of pharmaceutical companies;

* disability law firms specializing in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and other relevant laws;

*  Social Security law firms with practice areas devoted to this field;

* elder law (Medicare, Medicaid, trusts and estates, elder abuse, guardianship issues) ;

* Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other  pharmaceutical and drug law practices within law firms;

* the general counsels’ offices of hospital systems and health maintenance organizations (HMO);

and many other settings, including government agencies dealing with healthcare issues.

  The Healthcare Federation for Paralegals plans to provide a job bank, networking opportunities, newsletter, healthcare forms and up-to-date information on the field. And, it is free to join.


"Critical Care Without Consent"

This article in today's Washington Post (5-27-2007), both surprised & shocked me. I'd dearly love to hear what med-mal paralegals think about these research studies:

"The federal government is undertaking the most ambitious set of studies ever mounted under a controversial arrangement that allows researchers to conduct some kinds of medical experiments without first getting patients' permission.

"The $50 million, five-year project, which will involve more than 20,000 patients in 11 sites in the United States and Canada, is designed to improve treatment after car accidents, shootings, cardiac arrest and other emergencies.

"The three studies, organizers say, offer an unprecedented opportunity to find better ways to resuscitate people whose hearts suddenly stop, to stabilize patients who go into shock and to minimize damage from head injuries. Because such patients are usually unconscious at a time when every minute counts, it is often impossible to get consent from them or their families, the organizers say.

"The project has been endorsed by many trauma experts and some bioethicists. Others question it. The harshest critics say the research violates fundamental ethical principles.

[snip]

"'We will never know the best way to treat people unless we do this research. And the only way we can do this research, since the person is unconscious, is without consent,' said Myron L. Weisfeldt of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who is overseeing the project. 'Even if there are family members present, they know their loved one is dying. The ambulance is there. The sirens are going off. You can't possibly imagine gaining a meaningful informed consent from someone under those circumstances.'

"Before starting the research at each site, researchers complete a 'community consultation' process. Local organizers try to notify the public about the study and gauge the reaction through public meetings, telephone surveys, Internet postings and advertisements, and through reports in local news media. Anyone who objects can get a special bracelet to alert medical workers that they refuse to participate."

The reader comments about this news are worth a look. Personally I'm in favor of getting one of those "refuse to participate" bracelets!


"Five ways to be nice to your eyes"

Important advice for people who work with computers & read lots of documents:

"Your eyes are the products of millions of years of evolution. Unfortunately, this means that they’re optimized for spotting prey across the savanna, not for peering at letters built up of little dots on tiny screens. In recent years, optometrists have come to recognize a complex of eye and vision problems they call Computer Vision Syndrome, or CVS for short.

"When you spend your day looking at computer screens (especially poorly-maintained screens, or the tiny ones on mobile devices), your eyes strain, you blink less, and your body gets generally unhappy. The result? Fatigue, headaches, blurry vision, dry eyes, neck and backaches, and even double vision."


"Celebrity Brockovich plaintiff in 2 suits"

We're in favor of legal assistants righting wrongs...& making big money:

"Erin Brockovich, the resourceful legal assistant made famous by Hollywood's depiction of her epic fight against Pacific Gas & Electric, now is going after two of San Diego's largest hospital operators.

"She is the plaintiff in a pair of lawsuits filed recently in San Diego Superior Court that claim Scripps Health and Sharp HealthCare charged Medicare millions of dollars for fixing mistakes made by hospital staffers.

"The suits allege that the federal government's health insurance program for the elderly wrongly paid for treating infections, injuries, botched operations and illnesses.

[snip]

"The San Diego cases are among 40 suits filed across the country in recent weeks by two law firms seeking to capitalize on a federal law that lets individuals sue on behalf of the federal government to recoup Medicare overpayments.

"The suits seek reimbursement of those costs to Medicare, an amount that could reach into the billions of dollars according to one calculation. That money could help offset some of the skyrocketing costs predicted for the health insurance program in the coming years, according to Brockovich's lawyers.

[snip]

"Brockovich and the lawyers involved could pocket millions of dollars by sharing in reinbursement and damages ordered by the courts."