Monthly Archives: October 2012

multaq

Drug Watch: Safety Concerns Over Multaq Continue to Rise

Multaq carries a “black box warning”

Today’s post comes from guest author Edgar Romano from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Multaq (also known as dronedarone) was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) in July of 2009 as an anti-arrhythmic drug for use in heart patients with persistent atrial fibrillation, which is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), or paroxysmal (irregular heart rhythm). The drug is manufactured and marketed by Sanofi-Aventis. Multaq carries a “black box warning” which is the strongest level of warning on a prescription drug. The warning informs physicians that Multaq should not be prescribed for patients with severe congestive heart failure due to concerns that use of the drug might worsen patients’ heart failure symptoms or increase their chance of dying. In the few short years that Multaq has been sold by Sanofi-Aventis, the heart drug has been in the news quite a bit, but not because of its wonderful benefits for patients. Instead, there is growing evidence that the drug is dangerous which has led to a great deal of fear for patients and apprehension among prescribing physicians:

  • Early 2010– The FDA warned of possible problems with the development of congestive heart failure in patients taking Multaq.
  • Spring 2010 – The FDA warned of a possible link between Multaq and a potentially fatal Continue reading
medical-bills-credit-score

Medical Bills After an On-The-Job Injury – Do I Have to Pay Them? (PART 2)

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm.

Last week we shared a post about dealing with medical bills after an on-the-job injury. Our quick answer was that you most likely do not have to pay these bills, depending on your specific circumstances, which we discussed. So, let’s say that you don’t actually have to pay these bills, but you’ve already paid some of them. Here are a few more questions and answers.

What About Everything I Have Already Paid? Can I Be Reimbursed??

Question: My private insurance has covered the cost of my medical care while my workers’ compensation claim was in dispute. I have been making payments to my doctor’s office, too, for co-pay and other charges. Can I be reimbursed? What about my prescription costs?

Answer: Yes, you can be reimbursed for your expenses!

You can be reimbursed for medical expenses, prescription costs, travel expenses (when appropriate) and other costs once your workers’ compensation claim has been approved. In Washington State, though, the Department of Labor and Industries will only make payment to medical providers directly for services rendered, so you cannot receive direct reimbursement for payments to your doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, etc… These providers will need to submit bills for services under the allowed claim, receive payment for those services, and then issue refunds to you and your private insurance carrier for payments previously made. This can be a difficult process, though, as the medical providers have already been paid, often at a higher rate than what is allowed under a workers’ compensation claim, so they often would prefer to not go to the hassle of rebilling for services they have already been paid for and then make refunds to you and/or your insurance carrier in excess of the workers’ compensation payments.

Prescription costs are easier to have reimbursed. If you have receipts, you can submit a Statement for Pharmacy Services form to request reimbursement. If you do not have your receipts, you can submit this form with a printout from your pharmacy of all filled prescriptions related to the claim. The printout and the form must be signed by the pharmacist to certify that you have paid for the claimed prescriptions. Reimbursement for pharmacy expenses will be paid to you directly.

Similarly, travel expenses can be claimed under certain circumstances. If the travel was at the request of the Department of Labor and Industries, or if travel greater than 30 miles round-trip was needed to see the closest appropriate medical provider, then you can request reimbursement of mileage at the State’s rate and some extra expenses, such as ferry fares, parking charges or meal expenses. The Travel Reimbursement Request form must be submitted using the appropriate code for the type of expense incurred and receipts must be provided to support the reimbursement request. As with pharmacy reimbursements, travel reimbursements are paid to you directly.

medical-bills-credit-score

Medical Bills After An On-The-Job Injury: Do I Have to Pay Them? (PART 1)

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm.

Question: I’m Getting Medical Bills, but I have a Workers’ Compensation Claim – Do I have to Pay Them?

Answer: No! Well, maybe…

If the bill you have received is for a balance due, left over after payment from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries claim for services rendered by a medical provider, then you do not have to pay the bill. Under RCW Title 51 and WAC Chapter 296-20 and all of its provisions, the medical provider is required to accept payment from the workers’ compensation claim for services rendered as payment in full, and is not allowed to seek from the claimant payment of any additional balance. To be more specific, if a charge is billed to the workers’ compensation claim for a particular service and payment is made by the claim for that service in such a way that a balance remains for that same service, the medical provider is not entitled to payment from the claimant for that difference.

In contrast, if authorization for a medical service is denied under the claim completely, you may, under those circumstances, be required to make payment for any denied services. If you also have private medical insurance, your medical provider may be able to receive payment for treatment services denied under the workers’ compensation claim by submitting a bill for his or her services to the private insurance carrier.

To find out what you should do if you have already paid a medical bill for an on-the-job injury, check in next week for part 2 of this series.

insurance_companies_can_violate_your_privacy

Why Injured Workers Should Deactivate Their Social Media Accounts

Your private photos could be used against you by insurance companies.

Recently, it seems as though everyone is connected through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. These tools have become a great way to keep in touch with friends and family scattered all over the world. Unfortunately, the information you or your connections post on your social networking sites can cause your workers’ compensation claim to be denied.

The Commission denied further benefits in part based on pictures obtained from Zack’s MySpace and Facebook pages.

For example, Zack Clement suffered a hernia when a refrigerator fell on him while he was working at a warehouse in Arkansas. After undergoing three surgeries and receiving work comp benefits for a year, Zack took his case back to the Arkansas Compensation Commission to get an extension of his benefits. The Commission denied further benefits in part based on pictures obtained from Zack’s MySpace and Facebook pages. The Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld the Commission’s decision, noting Zack’s claims of excruciating pain were inconsistent with the pictures of Zack drinking and partying.

In Iowa, the Workers’ Compensation Commission has also relied on Facebook posts to deny an injured worker benefits. Jody McCarthy had a debilitating back condition that she claimed was aggravated by her work. The deputy commissioner noted that Continue reading

zimmer-implants

Drug Watch: Zimmer Knee Implants Plagued With Failure

Knee implants you thought would last decades may only last 3 years.

Today’s post comes from guest author Brenda Fulmer from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Zimmer is an international medical device manufacturer based in northern Indiana. It was founded in 1927, and focuses on the manufacture of products for orthopaedic surgeries. Zimmer’s sales in 2009 were $1.76 billion, and it is estimated that the NexGen family of knee implants make up about 2% of the overall sales of Zimmer.

Flex implants are not lasting nearly as long as intended.

The Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant is not a specific device, but rather a family of devices. Within this NexGen device family, there are different models of implants: NexGen CR-Flex, NexGen LPS-Flex, NexGen High Flex, NexGen LPS, NexGen MIS.

Unlike most knee implants, the Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex is attached without the use of cement, which may cause the system to loosen or detach completely.

The Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex implant was designed to give patients better range of motion than the customary NexGen device. Scientific studies have been accumulating for years with regard to concerns over the safety of the NexGen CR-Flex. Interestingly, the U.S. Continue reading

Power-Rangers-Samurai-Mega-Blade-300x300

The Most Dangerous Toys of 2011

Today’s post comes from guest author Edgar Romano from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Giving a gift to a child is meant to end in a smile, not a trip to the hospital. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, in 2009 there were approximately 250,000 toy-related trips to the emergency room. The non-profit World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) is looking to reduce that number. They have compiled their annual list of the 10 most dangerous toys. While none are as dangerous as the Radioactive Science Kit sold in the 1950’s, the toys on WATCH’s list pose risks for choking, electrocution, puncture wounds and a host of other injuries. We urge you to avoid purchasing these toys or allowing your children to play with them.

1. Twist ‘n Sort
The toy has already been recalled once because its small pegs can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. Even after the recall, this problem has not been fixed.
TWIST ‘n SORT
2. Power Rangers Samurai Mega Blade
This is not a toy, it is a 2 foot long sword. The first few warnings on the package should be enough to scare off any concerned parent: “Do not: (1) aim toy at anyone, (2) hit anyone with toy, (3) poke anyone with toy, (4) swing toy at anyone.” Used correctly, this toy is dangerous. Used safely, this toy is useless.
topamax

What Expecting Parents Need To Know About Topamax

Topamax has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects

Today’s post comes from guest author Brenda Fulmer from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Topamax, also known as topiramate, was originally approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of seizures in epileptic patients. However, it is often prescribed “off-label” for weight loss, chronic pain, headaches, alcoholism, bulimia, and psychiatric conditions. Off-label use of medications is controversial, but not illegal.

A drug company is only permitted to market its drugs for uses that are part of the warning label and for indications for which the FDA has approved the drug after reviewing available safety data. Many pharmaceutical manufacturers, however, have faced civil and criminal penalties over the last decade for also promoting their drugs for uses for which they have not been approved by the FDA and for which they have failed to provide adequate safety information. Many physicians are unaware of the lack of safety data to support a number of off-label uses of medications, which has resulted in harm to patients.

Recently, Topamax has been linked to birth defects in children. Continue reading

teamwork

Long Hours Linked To Health Problems And Lower Productivity

Providing employees a chance to work in teams, and socialize during breaks actually increases productivity.

Today’s post comes from guest author Deborah Kohl from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices.

Today, we have a guest post from our colleague Deborah Kohl of Massachusetts. Many people are surprised to learn that mental disability claims due to workplace stress are compensable by workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, claims like these are on the rise as people work longer hours and feel the pressure of an increasingly competitive working environment. Recent studies on mental health and the workplace have led researchers to discover that, over time, conditions such as extended working hours and long periods of solitary workcan lead to decreased productivity, anxiety, and even major depression.

Employers can create conditions that are more supportive of mental health by taking simple steps like allowing workers to take breaks where socializing is permitted.

While it may seem initially counter-intuitive, studies show that in the long run, policies like these can lead to a more productive workplace. Here are a few tips workers can use to stay mentally healthy at work:

  • Form friendships in the workplace. A positive relationship with even a single colleague can make a big difference in combating loneliness and depression. A friend at your office could provide an ear when you really need to release some steam or just take a mental break from an intense task.
  • That said, make a distinction between work and leisure, and make time for social activities outside the workplace. Continue reading