Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act was enacted in May 2016 (the “Act”). Under the Act, patients with serious medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and severe chronic or intractable pain, are authorized to use medical marijuana to treat their condition after obtaining a certification from a physician and an identification card issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Medical marijuana may only be issued to an individual or an individual’s caregiver who has received the certification and identification card. Medical marijuana may not be smoked and may only be dispensed in certain enumerated forms.

Continue Reading What Does PA’s Medical Marijuana Act Mean for My Company?

Access to a nurse’s personnel file became a key issue in a recent PA medical malpractice wrongful death and survival action. In Snyder v. DeCesare, the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County considered whether plaintiffs were entitled to disclosure of the personnel file of defendant Heather Shingler, RN. Plaintiffs alleged that their unborn child died in utero due to negligent fetal monitoring by the nurse, who was subsequently terminated from her employment with defendant Moses Taylor Hospital.

Plaintiffs sought a court order to compel production of the nurse’s personnel file, alleging a nexus between her termination of employment and her alleged negligent fetal monitoring. Defendants claimed there was no connection between the two events. Also, Nurse Shingler denied that her termination was related to the facts alleged in this case.

Continue Reading Hospital Must Disclose Fired Nurse’s Personnel File in PA Medical Malpractice Case

Industry stakeholders, contractors, and industry associations recently provided testimony at an OSHA public hearing regarding reinforcing steel and post-tensioning standards. As reported by The Ironworker, the rationale for pursuing new standards is:

  • The current OSHA standard written in 1971 is antiquated and only contains three references specifically pertaining to reinforcing steel and two for post tensioning.
  • Common hazards during reinforcing steel installation and post-tensioning operations are not addressed in current standards.
  • Fatality and accident trends indicate a direct correlation between accident causation factors and lack of specific regulations.
  • The usage of steel reinforced and post-tensioned poured-in-place concrete is expected to double.
  • The negotiated rulemaking process will produce the best safety standard and regulations through the cooperative efforts of OSHA, stakeholders and experts in the reinforcing steel and post-tensioning industry.

Protecting members during reinforcing steel activities is part of the “2017 Zero Incident” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to pursue safety standards that will prevent workplace incidents. Key safety provisions of the proposed OSHA standards pertain to reinforcing steel and post-tensioning standards and prevention of structural collapse during the hoisting process of walls and columns. The proposed text of the standard is available here.

On March 10, 2017, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) announced that first-year doctors will be allowed to work 24-hour shifts in hospitals starting July 1, 2017. The cap that has limited shifts to 16 consecutive hours of patient care since 2011 will be lifted. The 80-hours-per-week cap remains in place.

Balancing the logistics of physician training with the safety and needs of patients has been the subject of controversy and debate for decades. According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the debate centers on the concern that longer hours mean less sleep and sleep-deprived residents might make errors. However, that is countered by other concerns about shorter work hours resulting in more patient hand-offs that could affect patient care.

Continue Reading Residents’ Return to 24-Hour Shifts Rekindles Controversy Over Patient Care

As reported by philly.com, New Jersey Department of Health investigators have released a preliminary report finding that that the Osteo Relief Institute Jersey Shore in Wall Township deviated from multiple infection control guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

The report indicates that the clinic’s disregard of accepted hygiene practices likely caused 40 patients to develop septic arthritis of the knee following injections to treat knee pain. The clinic was closed in March but reopened two weeks later. The clinic treated up to 85 patients a day at the time of the infection outbreak, according to the report.

One physician at the clinic told health department investigators she did not wash her hands between procedures. Most troubling was the report’s finding that single-use vials were reused on multiple patients and leftover needles were put in the trash instead of in approved medical waste containers.

Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of several of the affected patients.

Hoarding is a psychological condition where: 1) individuals have difficulty getting rid of possessions that are no longer useful; and 2) efforts to discard these possessions and not acquire new items cause distress. Television shows such as Hoarding: Buried Alive and Hoarders display in alarming detail the negative emotional and physical impact of this condition upon the individual with the hoarding disorder as well as his or her family and neighbors.

The negative consequences of hoarding in a community association — especially a high-rise condominium — are very serious. Hoarding behavior can easily lead to unsanitary and unsafe conditions that extend far outside the unit where the hoarding condition has manifested. For example, collections of half empty food containers strewn about a unit can quickly escalate into a pest infestation and breeding ground for mold and other unwelcome guests. Piles of newspapers and other combustible materials in close proximity to heat sources become fire risks. The cumulative weight of hoarded items can even lead to structural problems. Doorways and hallways overflowing and otherwise barricaded by mounds of stuff can hamper the efforts of emergency personnel and management.

A community association that chooses to ignore a hoarding situation could be found liable for failing to take action if the hoarding situation leads to injury to person or property. Continue Reading What are the Negative Consequences of Hoarding in a Community Association?

I am concluding my Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Statute blog series with important information about restitution to victims. Also, as explained below, pursuant to the statute, victims of human trafficking may be eligible for benefits and compensation under the Crime Victims Act.

Continue Reading Restitution Under the Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Statute

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear an appeal from the dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the widow of Derek Valentino, a triathlete who drowned in a 2010 event organized by Philadelphia Triathlete LLC. The Court will determine whether the wrongful death claims brought by Mr. Valentino’s widow against Philadelphia Triathlete are barred by the liability waiver signed by him.

As part of the registration process for the triathlon, Mr. Valentino paid a fee and electronically executed the liability waiver assuming all risks of participating in the event. The swimming portion of the competition occurred in the Schuylkill River. Mr. Valentino entered the river on the morning of the event; his body was discovered in the river the following day.

In her wrongful death suit, Mr. Valentino’s widow claimed that Philadelphia Triathlete was grossly negligent and reckless. She maintained that the event organizers “failed to inspect or maintain the event course, failed to warn of or remove dangerous conditions, failed to properly plan or organize the event, failed to follow safety standards, and failed to properly train employees.”

Continue Reading Pennsylvania Justices to Review Waiver of Liability in Triathlete Wrongful Death Case

The Pennsylvania Superior Court will reconsider its ruling that attorney-client privilege does not apply to an email from a hospital’s attorney to its public relations firm.

The discovery dispute in the case involved a document generated by outside counsel pertaining to a public announcement planned by the hospital. The announcement would name two doctors who were identified from the results of a cardiology services audit as having performed unnecessary cardiac stent procedures. The hospital claimed that the audit indicated that the blockages in the patients at issue were so minimal that stents were not medically appropriate.

Continue Reading Pennsylvania Court to Reconsider Denial of Attorney-Client Privilege for Email to Consultant

This is the fifth in a series of posts summarizing the civil causes of action available under the PA Human Trafficking Statute. Thus far, I have addressed who can sue under the statute, who can be sued, and the powerful list of “nondefenses” provided within the statute. This post addresses the various types of civil damages that are recoverable under the statute.

The language of the PA Human Trafficking Statute provides that a victim may recover the following types of damages:

  • Actual/compensatory damages;
  • Punitive damages;
  • Injunctive relief;
  • Attorney fees and costs; and,
  • Treble damages.

Continue Reading What Damages Are Available Under the PA Human Trafficking Statute?