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Feds Cracking Down on Drugstore Medicare Fraud

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Medicare fraud is one of the most frequent types of healthcare fraud that Arizona healthcare fraud lawyers are called upon to defend. The federal administration has recently been looking closely at Medicare fraud initiated by drugstores, and is considering closing the loopholes that currently allow such fraud to occur.

The inspector general of the Health And Human Services Department says that drugstores have a high risk of Medicare fraud that could run into the billions of dollars. He believes that part of the reason for this is that Medicare does not require that private insurers report any suspicious billing patterns.

As a result, Medicare's payments to drugstores are being questioned. The investigation has been comprehensive. The investigators looked at the $5.6 billion that Medicare paid drugstores. They were not necessarily looking at all payments as suspicious. After all, a total of 59,000 pharmacies submitted Medicaid claims in 2009. However, they looked at potentially suspicious patterns.

After the analysis, the investigators reported that there was a strong need to improve oversight. The Inspector General also turned over the names of 2,637 pharmacies for follow-up. The pharmacies are ‘extreme billers,’ whose activities are suspicious.

Overall, however, out of the total number of pharmacies investigated, only a small fraction or 4.4% seemed to show suspicious patterns. But the agency says that in some parts of the country, it did find suspicious patterns reaching rates as high as 20%.

Medicare administrators have already agreed with the inspector general's opinion. However, Medicare does not seem to agree with the Health And Human Services Department Inspector General about the need to require private insurers to report suspicious activity, because this would mean a huge burden on the companies. Further, the government could be flooded with thousands of leads that ultimately lead nowhere, straining resources.

J.P. Morgan Shareholders File Lawsuit over $2 Billion Trading Loss

Thursday, May 31, 2012

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is facing 2 separate lawsuits that been filed in a Manhattan federal court. Both of the lawsuits are based on the heavy losses that were sustained by shareholders recently, and allege that the bank made misstatements about these losses.

The first lawsuit has been filed by an Arizona trust which filed a securities fraud lawsuit against JPMorgan. The lawsuit alleges that shareholders lost money on the stock market as a result of the misstatements by J.P. Morgan about its losses. The 2nd lawsuit has been filed by an investor who is seeking damages from the J.P. Morgan Board and executives.

In the securities fraud lawsuit, the plaintiff is asking for damages from investors who purchased stock of J.P. Morgan from April 13 on. Chief Executive Officer James Dimon at the time had brushed off concerns over the bank's trading, called it a ‘complete tempest in a teapot.’ During a conference call with investors on April 13, Guymon allegedly made ‘materially false and misleading statements and omissions.’ However on May 10, he made public the trading losses which amounted to $2 billion.

The shareholder fraud lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages on behalf of investors, while the derivative suit is seeking damages from the officers and directors of the bank. The derivative suit is also asking for a court order that would require that the bank improve corporate governance by allowing shareholders to vote on any proposals that are designed to strengthen board supervision, to allow shareholders to install two representatives on the board of the bank, and to make sure that the bank management is immediately informed about trading risks.

If the value of your securities is being threatened by poor management, negligent action or securities fraud, consult with an experienced California securities fraud attorney who can fight for and protect your rights.

Stronger Effects of Concussions on Female, Younger Athletes

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Concussions are mild brain injuries that occur frequently in the sports arena. However, female athletes as well as younger athletes who suffer these conditions are likely to have a much longer recovery period compared to male athletes and older athletes.

According to the results of a new study, females fared much worse when they were administered post-concussion visual memory tests after brain injury than male athletes. They were also more likely than male athletes to report more numbers of symptoms of a concussion.

Additionally, the researchers found that the younger athletes or high school athletes performed poorer than college athletes on the same post-concussion visual memory tests. Moreover, younger athletes were also likely to show mental impairment for longer periods of time after the injury.

The results of the study have been published in the May issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Any California brain injury lawyer will be intrigued by the study findings interesting, because they seem to confirm earlier research that there are sex and age-related differences in brain injury prognosis. These findings can be used in the future to develop treatments for brain injury.

California Brain injury attorneys also believe that it's important that these studies be publicized in order to raise awareness about the fact that female athletes also suffer concussions. In fact, female athletes are more likely to suffer concussions than male athletes. However, very often, parents, schools and coaches tend to overlook this fact.

In the case of younger athletes, the danger seems to be that athletes will suffer a second concussion soon after the first. This causes a compounding effect, or the ‘2nd-impact syndrome,’ in which a person is at a serious risk of brain damage, because of the second injury occurring soon after the first.

High Use of Cell Phones by California's Young Drivers

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Even as state transportation officials reported a decline in cell phone-related accidents in California, there has been an increase in the number of young California drivers who continue to be distracted by their cell phones while driving. According to new data by the California Office of Traffic Safety, the number of young California drivers who use cell phones behind the wheel has actually doubled.

The data finds that among drivers who are between 16 and 25 years old, the rate of cell phone use while driving increased from 9% in last year to 18% this year. Overall, approximately 10.8% of the motoring population is believed to use of cell phones while driving, an increase from 7.3% last year.

The results of the study were released soon after Distracted Driving Awareness Month which was marked in April this year. California state transportation agencies have found it very challenging to crack down on the practice of using cell phones while driving by young motorists. Sherman Oaks car accident lawyers have found that young drivers are notoriously immune to messages that warn against using a cell phone while driving.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, it has been a huge challenge to drive home the ‘don’t use cell phones while driving’ message to young and teenage drivers. The biggest challenge isn't that teenage drivers and young drivers are not aware of the dangers of using cell phones while driving. The biggest problem is that these drivers do not believe they will ever be involved in accidents while using cell phones. In other words, there is a strong sense of denial in this group of drivers, and many young drivers believe that they will be left untouched by distracted driving accidents.

Several California School Districts Face Bankruptcy

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Severe budget cuts are pushing several of the state’s school districts into consultations with California bankruptcy lawyers. According to state officials, several school districts, especially those in Northern California are currently unable to pay their bills.

That data comes from a report on California's 1,037 school districts. The report was compiled by the California Department of Education. According to the California superintendent of public instruction, budgetary cuts have simply meant that many schools are being forced into a financial squeeze.

At least 12 school districts in California are currently not in a position to pay their bills either this year or next year. Further, 176 school district systems are also not expected to be able to meet their financial obligations. That means a shaky future for the 2.6 million children included in these districts. Even the Los Angeles Unified School District may not have the necessary cash available this year or over the next 2 years to stay afloat.

The bad news gets even worse. According to education officials, if current initiatives to increase taxes for public schools fail to pass this November, the situation could simply get worse for school systems.

Education officials blame much of the bankruptcy crisis facing many school district systems on the state budget. Budget cuts have increased to 20% over the last 3 years alone. Further, the decision to defer disbursement of millions of dollars owed to the school system to months later also increases the stress on school systems that are already grappling with budget cuts.

School districts are trying a number of measures to stay afloat. At some districts, class sizes have been increased in order to save resources. Other school districts are negotiating pay cuts for teacher unions, and some districts have taken the difficult step of closing down schools altogether.

High Risk of Accident Injuries in Poor Neighborhoods

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It’s never been a secret to Los Angeles car accident lawyers that some categories of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists may be at an unfairly high risk of being involved in accidents. For instance, people in rural areas or poor socio-economic neighborhoods, may be much more likely to be involved in accidents. Researchers recently conducted a study to find out why this was so. Why should a person who is from a poor socio economic background be more likely to be injured in an accident?

There is no single reason why this is so. Rather, there seems to be a combination of factors that exposes people from poor neighborhoods to a much higher risk of not just being involved in accidents, but also being injured in those accidents.

The researchers focused on all traffic accidents that occurred in the Island of Montréal between 1999 and 2003. They focused on accidents that occurred at intersections, and categorized intersections based on the average household income in that area.

They found that the population density was approximately 2.7 times greater in the poorest areas, than in the wealthiest areas. Further, the traffic in areas that were poor was 2.4 times higher than in the richer neighborhoods.

Approximately 30% of the intersections in poor neighborhoods included at least one major traffic artery. In comparison, such traffic features were present in only about 11.5% of the richest neighborhoods. Also, poor neighborhoods seemed to have more numbers of 4-way intersections, which are believed to be much bigger accident magnets than 3-way intersections.

Overall, what that means is that bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists in poor neighborhoods are at a much higher risk of being involved in accidents, especially those that occur at intersections, which are often high-impact, devastating accidents.

New Parents Have Little Access to Paid Leave, Other Workplace Protections

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It should be one of those times in a person's life employers do as much as possible to ensure that the employee has necessary time away from work. However, new research finds that new working parents receive very little support in the form of paid leave and other workplace protections.

According to the report, which is titled Expecting Better: The State-By-State Analysis of Laws That Help New Parents, which has been released just in time for Mother's Day, no state is doing the maximum possible to help new parents.

Any California employment lawyer would be pleased to know that California has received good grades in the comparison of state laws that govern paid leave and other protections for new parents. Both California and Connecticut received A- grades on the report. However, 18 states across the country failed the test by failing to provide any kind of parental leave, or any other kind of protections to help working employees who are also new parents.

According to the researchers who prepared the report, this is unfortunate, because the birth of a child should be a time for celebration, and a time for parents to spend as much time establishing their family unit as possible. However, for millions of American employees, the reality is anything, but joyous. These people have no rights to paid leave, and enjoy just the very basic minimal federal workplace protections after birth.

Women currently make up close to 50% of the American workforce, and close to three quarters of all American children currently live in families that are comprised of both working parents. When many of these parents welcome a new child into the family, the workplace protections are so bad, that one partner may have no other option but to quit the job to care for the child.

There's plenty of research that indicates to California employment attorneys that paid leave promotes stability and security of families, increases worker productivity, and benefits businesses. However, no state seems to be doing all that it can do to make going to work easier for new parents.

Letter Carriers at Risk of Dog Bites

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The U.S. Postal Service is marking National Dog Bite Prevention Week with an appeal to the public to help prevent dog bites involving letter carriers. This year, National Dog Bite Prevention Week is being marked between May 19 and May 25.

The US Postal Service has good reason to be worried about dog bites involving mail carriers. Letter carriers are some of the most frequent victims of dog bites in the United States. The U.S. Postal Service sees a fair share of its employees falling victim to dog bites. Last year alone, more than 5,500 postal employees were victims of dog bite attacks. These attacks occurred across 1,400 cities. The U.S. Postal Service paid out nearly $1.2 million in medical expenses after dog bites last year.

People in Los Angeles need to be especially concerned about dog bites. The highest number of attacks involving postal employees occurred in the city of Los Angeles in 2011. There were a total of 83 postal employees who suffered dog bites last year.

This year, the U.S. Postal Service, the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, the Insurance Information Institute, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Veterinary Medical Association are all combining efforts to increase awareness about the need to prevent dog bites.

There's an especially great need to prevent dog attacks involving children. As Los Angeles dog bite lawyers see, children are some of the most frequent victims of dog bites. Out of the 4.7 million people who are bitten by dogs annually in the United States, more than 50% are children below the age of 5. Children of this age group are approximately 3 times more likely to be bitten by dogs. According to statistics, dog bite attacks also accounted for approximately one-third of all homeowner insurance claims last year.

Returning Military Personnel Have High Accident Risks

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Veterans, who are returning back home after active combat duty, have enhanced risks of being involved in accidents. According to a study by the USCA, returning service members, especially those who served in the Army and Marines, are much more likely to be involved in accidents.

Enlisted ranks had a 22% higher likelihood of being involved in at-fault accidents. Non-commissioned officers had a risk of being involved in accidents that was about 10% higher, and in the case of officers, the risk of being involved in at-fault accidents was about 3.5% higher.

The most common cause of accidents reported by veterans returning home from combat was accidents involving objects on the road.

Younger service members below the age of 22 were approximately 3 times as likely to be involved in accidents, compared to older vets.

California veterans benefits lawyers believe that the increased stress brought on by multiple deployments is also a possible reason for the high numbers of car accidents involving service members. Multiple deployments were linked to a higher risk of accidents, while persons who had longer durations of deployments were also found to be much more likely to have high accident risks.

According to the study analysts, the reasons for this high susceptibility to accidents after veterans return home are manifold. It could have something to do with failure to drive at posted speed limits when they return home.

Some veterans also likely suffer from an inability to discard some of the driving practices that they used during combat. For instance, veterans may be reluctant to wear seat belts when they get back home, or may be reluctant to stop at intersections. Both of these are behaviors that dramatically increase a person's risk of being involved in an accident and the risk of being injured in an accident.

WHO Initiative Promotes Hand Hygiene to Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infection Risks

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The World Health Organization is sponsoring an initiative aimed at increasing hand hygiene and hand washing practices across the world. More than 50,000 healthcare facilities in more than 106 countries are participating in the WHO Save Lives: Clean Your Hands campaign.

More than 10 million healthcare workers are included in this initiative. These healthcare workers have made a commitment to increasing hand hygiene best practices during this campaign. Some of these best practices include washing your hands, before and after checking on patients.

As any Arizona medical malpractice lawyer knows, reducing the incidence of hospital-acquired infections begins with basic steps. Increasing compliance in hand washing practices in hospitals and healthcare settings can dramatically reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections. For these practices to have the maximum impact, they must be implemented by all doctors, nurses or other personnel who have direct contact with the patient.

Most hospital-required infections occur when healthcare providers like doctors and nurses do not wash their hands properly, before they attend to a patient. The germs of these persons can be transferred to the patient, who has a weakened immune system. Some of the most common infections that are transmitted by bacteria found on human hands are urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

According to the World Health Organization, out of every 100 patients in a hospital, at least seven in developed countries will develop a hospital-acquired infection. Those numbers increase to 30% in the case of an intensive care unit.

There has been some progress in reducing the risk of these infections by increasing hand washing rates. According to the WHO, a recent survey of more than 2,000 hospitals in 69 countries, found that there were good hand hygiene promotion rates at more than 65% of these facilities.

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