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Educators: work with experienced attorney to protect employment, licensure rights

Teaching is a challenging profession, but it can be a rewarding one when a teacher is supported and encouraged in his or her work, allowed to be fully engaged, and is fairly compensated. At the same time, teaching can involve a number of challenges. For some who enter the profession, these challenges may be too significant to overcome.                     

As in any other profession, a certain number of those who enter will determine they are not a good fit and will find another career path. According to a report released at the beginning of the month, too many teachers in Minnesota may be doing that. 

Informed consent in telemedicine practice: come up with a plan to cover all the bases

We’ve been looking in recent posts at the new rules released by the Wisconsin Medical Examination Board concerning the practice of telemedicine, and particularly at the issue of informed consent. As we noted last time, the new rules require physicians practicing telemedicine to meet the various requirements of informed consent under state law.

Meeting the requirements of informed consent in the context of telemedicine care is slightly different than in-person medical care. This is because there are different risks associated with telemedicine care. In coming up with appropriate documentation of informed consent, health care providers need to understand not only the requirements of state law, but also the unique risks of offering health care by telecommunication. 

Wisconsin board comes out with new rules governing practice of telemedicine, P.2

Last time, we began looking at some of the aspects of new rules governing the practice of telemedicine in Wisconsin. The rules have yet to be approved by the Governor and the Legislature before they can be published and take effect, but physicians are already beginning to gear up for the changes.

As we noted last time, the rules specifically define what constitutes the practice of telemedicine and the requirements for a physician to engage in diagnosis and treatment. The rules also impose the same standards of care and ethical conduct as in the ordinary practice of medicine, which is an important point from the standpoint of physician discipline and legal liability.

Wisconsin board comes out with new rules governing practice of telemedicine, P.1

Last month, the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board gave the green light on fresh rules governing the practice of telemedicine in the state. The rules are supposed to be an improvement on an initial set of rules proposed in 2015. A number of concerns were addressed in the new rules, some of which relate to physician licensing and medical liability.

Among the provisions included in the new rules is the requirement that a physician who treats a Wisconsin patient by telemedicine must be licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin. The new rules define telemedicine as the practice of medicine by means of electronic communications which enable the physician to meet or exceed the minimum standard of competent medical practice.This excludes certain forms of communication which don’t allow for full exchange of information. The new rules also make it clear that physicians must use high quality, safe technology and equipment in the practice telemedicine. 

Audit highlights weaknesses in employment discrimination compliance

At the federal and state level, there are a variety of laws meant to protect vulnerable classes of people from discrimination in employment. As good as these laws can do for those vulnerable to employment discrimination, they don’t do much good if they aren’t being enforced. And, according to a recent state audit, too often they are not enforced.

The audit found that a great deal of work needs to be done to ensure that employment discrimination laws are being followed in the state of Minnesota. Among the problems noted in the audit were: failure to advertise state jobs among communities of color; unnecessary job and education criteria that screens out certain candidates; and lack of oversight in areas where few women and minorities are hired. 

What limits do doctors have regarding romantic relationships with patients? P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the issue of physicians having romantic relationships with their patients and the ethical issues that can arise in such situations. As we noted, a large note of caution is given by physicians groups on becoming romantic with patients, and most physicians feel that it is wrong to do so, though some feel it can be acceptable if the physician-patient relationship is terminated prior to the relationship and that circumstances can make a difference.

Under Minnesota law, physicians can be subjected to professional discipline for becoming romantically involved with patients, so it is critical to exercise a great deal of caution in this area. This is particularly important given that there can be misunderstandings between patients and physicians, particularly when a patient is emotionally vulnerable. 

What limits do doctors have regarding romantic relationships with patients? P.1

We have previously discussed on this blog the importance of physicians working with experienced legal counsel when facing allegations of patient sexual abuse. As we noted, such allegations can lead not only to criminal and civil charges, but also to disciplinary action by the state medical board.

While sexual abuse of patients is clearly a violation law, ethics rules, and common sense, the issue of dating patients can be a sticker one. Forming close relationships with patients is not uncommon among physicians, but when the relationship begins to take a romantic turn, the physician needs to be particularly cautious. 

Study highlights debate over breast cancer screening guidelines among practitioners

A recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that one out of three women who receive treatment for breast cancer based on mammogram results do not need that treatment. According to the researchers behind the study, the tumors detected in these women grew at such a slow rate of speed that they post little health threat.

The study has once again raised the debate over the value of early breast cancer screening, a debate that is reflected in the variable guidelines for cancer screening put out by different organizations. Some of these guidelines recommend that women start receiving mammograms at the age of 40, while others recommend beginning at the age of 50. The frequency of testing varies as well.  

Major media networks deal with ongoing workplace discrimination

Readers may be aware that two major media networks widely felt to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum are currently involved in ongoing discrimination litigation concerning former employees. One of the networks is CNN, which was hit last month with a class-action lawsuit on behalf of current and former black employees.

The attorney spearheading the lawsuit has reportedly been gathering evidence of discrimination over the last several years, and claims that discrimination against African American employees has been “a company-wide pattern and practice” for at least the last 20 years. In support of the allegations, the attorney cites various findings demonstrating racial, such as disproportionately lower scores on work evaluations, differences in compensation, higher termination rates, slower promotion rates and under-representation among high level employees within the company. He also cites evidence of racial bias among superiors. 

Work with experienced attorney to build solid workplace discrimination case

In our previous post, we began looking at ongoing discrimination litigation against CNN and Fox News. Whether workplace discrimination involves racial bias or sexual harassment, one of the biggest challenges for discrimination victims is to bring forward enough evidence to convince a court that discrimination in fact occurred.

Almost always, employers will deny allegations of workplace discrimination and will justify failure to hire or promote, or taking adverse employment action, on poor performance, misconduct, or some other purported basis. When an employee is able to secure evidence of a supervisor’s intention in taking certain actions through some means, it is easy to call the employer’s excuses into question. 

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