Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Morning Drill: September 22, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments for your day.

Feds sue dentist for firing assistant over OSHA concerns

A Massachusetts dentist is being sued by the U.S. Department of Labor for allegedly firing an employee for raising concerns about needlestick hazards and filing a health hazard complaint with the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to the complaint, filed September 14, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, N. Terry Fayad, DMD, of Beverly, MA, in November 2010 discharged Rhonda Healey, a dental assistant employed in his practice since 2002, after she raised concerns about an office procedure involving the handling of contaminated needles.

As part of Healey's duties, she placed used, contaminated needles that had been protectively capped into a sharps container, according to the lawsuit. But in October 2010, Dr. Fayad changed the procedure so that workers were required to remove the protective caps from the contaminated needles before putting the needles into the disposal sharps containers, the complaint states.

Dr. Fayad changed the procedure so that more needles would fit in the sharps containers, "reducing the frequency of their disposal by Fayad's disposal service provider and saving Fayad money," the lawsuit alleges.

This procedure exposed the employees to injury and possible infection by bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis and HIV, the complaint further states.

"No employer should ever treat employees this way," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator, in a statement. "Workers have the right to perform their jobs without being exposed to life-threatening hazards, as well as the right to raise concerns when faced with such hazards. The Labor Department will take all appropriate legal steps to ensure these rights are enforced."

The lawsuit seeks the employee's reinstatement; payment of lost wages, benefits, and interest; and compensatory and punitive damages. The suit also seeks to enjoin Dr. Fayad from violating OSHA regulations in the future.
23,000 California Nurses to Strike on September 22
Roughly 23,000 members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) plan to be no-shows on September 22 at several dozen hospitals in what organizers call the largest nurses' strike in the nation's history.

The 1-day strike comes amid negotiations between the CNA and 8 individual hospitals operated by nonprofit Sutter Health in northern California that have run aground largely on 2 rocky economic issues for all Americans: healthcare coverage and retirement benefits.

The CNA belongs to an aggressive "super union" with close to 160,000 members called National Nurses United. Its avowed goal is to unionize every registered nurse in the United States. In June 2010, its affiliate in Minnesota organized a 1-day strike by 12,000 nurses in the Twin Cities over wages, pension benefits, and staffing levels. At the time, that walk-off was billed as the biggest nurses' strike ever.

The scheduled California strike affects not only 8 Sutter hospitals, some with multiple campuses, but also 22 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in northern California, as well as Children's Hospital Oakland. The latter hospital is also embroiled in contract negotiations with the CNA, but the Kaiser facilities are not. The Kaiser nurses are instead striking out of sympathy with Kaiser employees belonging to the National Union of Healthcare Workers, whose members include mental health professionals, audiologists, and speech pathologists, in addition to registered nurses. Some 2500 of these National Union of Healthcare Workers members, currently locked in contract talks, began 2-day and 3-day strikes today at Kaiser facilities in southern California. Another 1500 NUWH members employed by Kaiser in northern California will engage in a 1-day walk-off tomorrow.

CNA nurses are scheduled to begin walking picket lines at 7 am tomorrow around the hospitals being struck. The picket lines will come down at 7 am the next day.

Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Children's Hospital Oakland have assured the public that they will continue to deliver top-notch care during the 1-day strike. That translates into hiring temporary replacement nurses.
Many Unaware of Plastic Surgery Options After Weight Loss Procedures
Most of the 220,000 people who undergo weight loss surgery every year are not aware of the follow-up procedures they could have to remove any loose skin they may have, according to a new study by plastic surgeons.

However, not all patients who undergo so-called bariatric weight reduction surgery need a cosmetic procedure after their dramatic weight loss, said one doctor who's an obesity expert.

Researchers from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said that although 75 percent of bariatric patients don't know about body contouring, many might choose to have this plastic surgery if they were fully informed of their options.

"Bariatric surgery isn't just a commitment to weight loss. It often requires body contouring surgeries to help the patient's skin fit their new body," the study's lead author, Dr. Jason Spector, ASPS Member Surgeon, said in a society news release. "Many massive weight loss patients suffer large amounts of loose, sagging skin as a result of their rapid weight loss that, if not removed, can cause rashes, wounds, infection, and limit comfortable mobility. It is apparent that insufficient counseling at the time of bariatric surgery is obscuring viable body contouring options for these patients."

The study included 284 patients who had had weight loss surgery. The researchers found that only 25 percent had discussed body contouring procedures with their bariatric surgeon before or after surgery.

Although only 14 percent were referred to a plastic surgeon for consultation and just 11 percent had a body contouring procedure, nearly 40 percent of the patients said they might have chosen to have the plastic surgery if they knew more about it.

Lack of awareness about body contouring wasn't the only reason why the patients studied didn't undergo the procedure, the researchers noted. Nearly one-third said the plastic surgery, which is rarely covered by insurance, was too expensive.
U.S. health officials push flu shots for all
U.S. health officials are looking to capitalize on significant gains in flu vaccination rates with a new campaign emphasizing the need for all Americans over six months of age to get a flu shot.

Last season, nearly 131 million people, or 43 percent of the U.S. population, received the influenza vaccine, representing a steady increase over several years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But as the memory and urgency of the 2009 flu pandemic fades, health officials want to make sure Americans continue to turn up for their annual flu shots by offering them in more places and in new forms, including vaccination with a tiny needle designed to make the experience as painless as possible.

"Eight million more Americans got vaccinated against the flu last year. That is the most people who have ever been vaccinated in this country," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, said at a news conference.
Enjoy your morning!

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