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Helen Oscislawski at Fox Rothschild has posted an interesting commentary on Google’s new service, uploading your living will to Google Health.  Helen’s blog post is here. She asks a really good question:  How will the doctor or emergency room know you have an advance directive on Google if you arrive in their care unable to communicate, which is exactly when a living will is supposed to work?

I’m thinking having the document on Google Health is probably better than having it in a file at home where you can’t find it, or locked in a safety deposit box, but you still have to communicate to your loved ones and your doctor that you have a living will or health care proxy, and liberally share the document and instructions around.  And if you do that, why would you need to upload it to Google?

Thoughts?

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Breaking the BankAn appeals court in California just decided that a CEO, CFO, and a manager at a hotel could be held personally responsible for payment of back wages and accrued vacation time of employees who filed a suit in federal court under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The amount has not been decided yet, but the plaintiffs went after the individuals because the hotel/casino was in bankruptcy, and therefore could not be made to pay the claims.

Whether you own your ambulance service or are just an employee like the rest, if you have the responsibility to make decisions about how people get paid or record their time, this case tells us that the government can go after YOU if employees are not paid correctly.  Your employer can buy insurance that covers you even after bankruptcy, or after you don’t work there any more. This is a good reminder to do a periodic audit of your coverage, both personally and corporately.  Talk to your lawyer, insurance agent, CPA.  And of course, the best way to avoid a court order to pay back wages is to pay them correctly in the first place.

In New Jersey, depending on the way they write and communicate their policies, private employers may not have to pay out accrued leave when an employee quits or is terminated.  However, your actual practices have to reflect your written policies.  Having a policy and not following it consistently can be worse than not having a policy at all.

 The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division is looking for volunteers to help first-responders in Cape May.

The division is working with the Wills for Heroes Foundation, a nonprofit group that helps emergency aid workers obtain free estate planning documents.   The Saturday event will be held at the Cape May County Public Safety Training Center in Cape May Courthouse.  It starts at 8:30 a.m. Attorneys do not need special qualifications.

Volunteers can serve as attorneys, witnesses or notaries. To volunteer or find out more, contact Karen Weiss at kweiss@sternslaw.com.

Following the event, Cooper Levenson April Niedelman & Wagenheim will host a reception at the nearby Bellevue Tavern.

The first thing people say when I tell them that I am a health care lawyer is “so you do med mal work?”

No.

No, I don’t.

Litigation against or in defense of health care providers is not what I mean when I say I am a health care lawyer.  I used to do that; most new lawyers have to do a little bit of everything, either to find out what works, or to pay dues at a law firm that uses new lawyers to fill the gaps of what the more experienced lawyers want to spend time on.  But that’s not what I do now.

My biggest client (my day job) is a large health care provider in NJ.  I spend most of my time advising on law and policy before a decision gets made, rather than AFTER a patient has a bad outcome.  Because that’s why people sue – not because the provider committed malpractice, but because they had a bad outcome and think it could only happen if the provider(s) acted negligently.  Actually, lots of bad things can happen to you when you are sick or hurt that have nothing to do with the incompetence of the doctor, nurse, or other professional who cared for you.

But, you probably know that if you are reading this.  If you decided to click through to something called “Ambulance Law Update,” you are most likely a clinical provider of EMS, or a manager.  And, while updates on med mal law as they apply to ambulance providers are of interest to you, you want to know more.  Like, are EMS agencies exempt from overtime requirements?  What was that “Garcia rule” again?  Does CMS really expect us to get a patient’s signature on every call?  Can I balance bill patients if I am not in their health plan network?

And that’s exactly the kind of stuff I’ll handle here.  So, introduce yourself in the comments section, or by emailing me at keavney (at) gmail (dot) com.  ( I am told writing it like that makes the email address invisible to spam bots.  I have my doubts, but I’ll give it a try.)  I want to write about what you need to know, so send me requests for topics for future posts.  Of course, a blog is not private or secure, so do not disclose any information, because it may not be protected by the attorney client privilege. The blog does not create an attorney client relationship.  If you want one, I have to know what state you are in, so I can see if it is legal for me to give you advice, perform a conflicts check, and establish a secure method of communication for privileged information.  So keep it hypothetical, theoretical, and policy oriented.

Meanwhile, WELCOME to the Ambulance Law Update!

Margaret