The Legal System
Imagine you are the director of health information services for a medium-sized health care facility. Like many of your peers, you have contracted with an outside copying service to handle all requests for release of patient health information at your facility. You have learned that a lobbying organization for trial attorneys in your state is promoting legislation to place a cap on photocopying costs, which is significantly below the actual costs incurred as part of the contract. (Case Study, p. 20) Review this case study. Define and describe each branch of government and discuss the roles each branch will play in considering this legislation. How would you and your professional organization act to influence this process? Evaluate how the various sources of law relate to this case? Our government has three branches. Imagine a triangle. At the top is the executive branch. The two bottom corners are the judicial branch and the legislative branch (also called Congress). Each part of the government is connected to the other. Each has its own responsibilities and powers. A system of checks and balances prevents one branch from gaining too much power. Congress is responsible for making laws. When Congress passes a bill, it goes to the president who reviews it. If he likes it, he signs it, and it becomes a law. If the president does not like it, he vetoes it. The judicial branch can review laws made by Congress and approved by the president. They are responsible for deciding if the law agrees with our constitution. A crucial function of the executive branch is to ensure that laws are carried out and enforced to facilitate such day-to-day responsibilities of the federal government. The legislative branch, as a whole, is charged with passing the nation's laws and allocating funds for the running of the federal government and providing assistance to the 50 U.S. states. Trying to place a cap on photocopying would undoubtedly cause problems within the healthcare system. All the facts of why a cap is needed in the first place should be presented and challenged as to what the lobbyist power and influences are in getting the legislation to even consider promoting the idea. Legal Procedures
Imagine you are the in-house counsel at a local hospital. You have been contacted by an attorney for a former patient of the hospital whose inpatient hospitalization resulted in some harm to the patient. That harm was recorded in an incident report prepared by hospital staff. Your review of the incident report indicates that the harm described by the attorney is consistent with the harm described in the incident report. Based on your conversations with the attorney, you believe a lawsuit is imminent. Since you believe it is in the best interest of all concerned to avoid the cost of litigation, you wish to consider methods of alternative dispute resolution. (Case Study, p.47) Identify at least three methods of alternative dispute resolution for this case and discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of each method. Assuming the alternative methods are not successful, use Fig. 2.4 to explain the steps in the legal process to begin a lawsuit. Be sure to relate each step to this specific case. Negotiation is the most basic means of settling our differences. It is back-and-forth communication between the parties to the conflict with the goal of trying to find a solution. You may negotiate directly with the other person. You may hire an attorney to negotiate directly with the other side on your behalf. There are no specific procedures to follow - you can determine your own - but it works best if all parties agree to remain calm and not talk at the same time. Mediation is a voluntary process in which an impartial person (the mediator) helps with communication and promotes reconciliation between the parties which will allow them to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation often is the the next step if negotiation...
References: McWay, JD, RHIA, D. C. (2010). Legal and Ethical Aspects of Health Information Management (Third ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar, Cengage Learning.
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