On June 10, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced bipartisan legislation that would add Covid-19 vaccines to the injury compensation court established in the 1980s. The legislation is called the Vaccine Access Improvement Act. If the legislation passes, people who have been injured by a Covid-19 vaccine should have a better chance of obtaining compensation than they do now.
Early on in this pandemic, a Trump administration rule barred those injured by any Covid-19 vaccine from accessing the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Instead, those injured had to seek compensation through the rarely-used Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), which is a different, separate fund run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The problem with that program is, rarely does anyone receive an award. If they do, it is usually smaller than an award received through the VICP. Also, the CICP provides a shorter time period to file your claim and does not pay attorney fees, so getting help to file a claim is difficult.
Bloomberg reported that adding new vaccines to the VICP requires either an act of Congress, or a notice and rulemaking process—which can often be lengthy. A bill by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) would make that process easier by giving the Department of Health and Human Services authority to add to the list of eligible shots.
The number of Covid-19 vaccine complications appears relatively low. In the U.S., severe allergic reactions to the shots occurred in about two to five people per million, according to the CDC.
Currently, it is unclear how much support the Vaccine Access Improvement Act has in the House or Senate. But it is a bill worth keeping an eye on if you have been injured by the Covid-19 vaccine.
Medical Error: How You Can Protect Yourself
Too often, perhaps, we accept with little question the idea that doctors and medical professionals know what’s best, and patients are hesitant to question that authority. But the fact is, they’re not infallible. Prior to Covid-19, hospital and medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the United States – right behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. One in three people who are hospitalized suffer harm, injury or infection from medical mistakes, and the consequences can be long-term and far reaching
There are several factors that contribute to hospital and medical mistakes – doctors become overworked or burned out, poor teamwork and communications, and unsatisfactory training among them. Professionals in the field are developing a consensus on how to better train and build teams and implement better preventive protocols – but you as a patient can take steps to ensure you’re protected against — or in the event of — medical error:
Keep a Medical Diary
Write everything down – notes about your condition, your medications and what they’re for, and when and why they were prescribed. Keep detailed records of your visits with medical professionals and write down what was said during each session. Also, note any tests given, what the results were, and record all discussions with caregivers – any questions asked, and what the answers were.
List your medicines in a separate log and monitor the dosages. Keep notes on discussions with your doctor and pharmacist and make note of any change in medication and the reasons given for it.
Have a Buddy
Ask a friend, relative, or partner to stay with you while in treatment or during hospital/doctor visits. They can be your backup and extra set of eyes and ears.
Have a Living Will
It’s a hard thing to talk about, but inestimably important to have your wishes known and documented in the event you are incapacitated. Make sure your family and your doctor have a copy of your Living Will and know what your decisions and wishes are.
Do Your Research
Research your hospital’s safety rating and don’t be afraid to ask the Administrator questions about what protocols they have in place for improvements and upgrades. There are several resources you can use online to find your hospital’s rating, such as The Leapfrog Group.
You, as the patient, have the right to be a part of your treatment and care, and you should not feel intimidated or hesitant to ask questions and expect answers from your physician and medical personnel. Your life and health are important, and you have every right to know how your treatment is being handled and why. It is not only permissible, but imperative, for you to make yourself as integral a part of your medical team as your Primary Care Physician.
In the event that you believe you have experienced harm from medical error, please call us at 304-720-2351. (make click to call) We will be happy to meet with you for a free consultation.
Medical Errors: Tips on How to Prevent Them
20 Tips To Help Prevent Medical Error
The Leapfrog Group
Nursing homes, or Skilled Nursing Facilities, are an option for people who don’t necessarily require hospitalization or round-the-clock supervision and care, but need some medical or physical therapy assistance, or special care after surgery or during illness. Some nursing homes are set up as a hospital type of environment, while others are designed like homes or assisted living units. So once you know the basic criteria of what you’re looking for, here are some ideas to help you go about choosing the right facility for what you need:
Consult Your Hospital/Healthcare Provider
Hospitals usually employ social workers or hospice/assisted care advisors who likely have a list of skilled care facilities. Talk to friends, family, social/religious groups, and even family members who have loved ones in care. They can help you pick out some places and offer insight and recommendations.
Call Your Preliminary List of Options
– How many residents do they have?
– Is there a doctor on call, or do residents travel to see a physician?
– Is the schedule regimented, or more flexible?
– How many staff members are there? How many nurses or specialized personnel?
– What was the facility’s last evaluation rating? How were problems handled?
– What is the rate of turnover for both staff and residents?
– What is the basic fee structure; can you afford it?
Once you have narrowed down your list of potential facilities, ask for an appointment. You can get a first-hand look at the operations and make your own observations. Some suggestions:
– Check for safety hazards: some of these aren’t always obvious, like frayed carpets, for instance, or cracks in the floor. Also keep an eye out for raised doorsills, uneven tile or floorboards, electrical cords, and unusual bevels or bumps.
– Observe how the nurses/aides interact with people; do they address residents by name? Do they knock before entering the room? Do they know the resident’s habits, interests, schedule, and family names? Does the staff make sure that residents are stimulated and provided opportunities for activity and interaction, or are residents left alone for long periods of time?
– Cleanliness and safety of the facility: are the floors and surfaces clean and well-kept? Are the doors and windows equipped with locks or alarms? Are there cameras and/or other surveillance features? What is the facility’s current safety evaluation?
This time go to the facility unannounced, without calling ahead – perhaps a few days later, and try a different time of day so that you can observe other staff at work. Pop in during lunch and observe how mealtime is handled. How does the food look? How is it served? Is it nutritious and easily digestible? Are residents given the option of eating their own food preferences, and does the facility oblige religious dietary requirements, etc? Do staff interact with or sit with residents during mealtime and engage in conversation?
When You Choose
Ultimately, cost is going to be a big factor in your final decision, as well as quality of care and medicine. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask the facility director for clarification, and keep asking until you’re satisfied with the explanation.
You can find a list of skilled facilities that have been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as a checklist of additional questions, at www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare.
There are also many available State Insurance Assistance Programs that can help you with choosing health insurance and finding other financial aid: (link to www.medicare.gov/Nursing/Payment.asp.
How good is your relationship with your physician? Our doctors are only as good as how honest our communication is with them. It’s upsetting when they make a mistake – but they’re human beings, not demigods, and human error is inevitable. But when medical professionals we trust – often with our lives – don’t tell us about those mistakes, that’s when it’s really scary, as an article in The Raw Story explains.
It gets worse: in an independent study published by BMJ Quality and Safety 300 Primary Care Physicians said that depending on how big they felt the mistake was, they would decide whether to tell the patient. The patient’s right to know about any mistake, large or small, was not a factor in that decision.
Additionally, doctors admitted that not only would they not admit to mistakes they made – they would actively try to cover it up. Worst of all, they wouldn’t be sorry for either.
The implications are horrifying. Medical error costs the lives of 250,000 people a year, much of which is preventable. The trust we put in our doctors makes us vulnerable enough, and if our medical professionals are consciously obscuring and hiding their own mistakes, that trust is broken – and it puts us in even more danger; the doctor’s needs and position DO NOT take precedence over patient care and safety.