Massachusetts Medical Society Presses for Proposed EHR Legislation

In an announcement on September 29, 2014, the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) urged the State Board of Registration in Medicine (BRM) to adopt proposed regulations that would help physicians meet “meaningful use” requirements for health information technology. Chapter 224 requires that physicians “demonstrate proficiency in the use of computerized physician order entry, e-prescribing, electronic health records and other forms of health information technology, as determined by the board.” The statute further suggests that in order to fulfill the proficient requirement, physicians must be compliant with the federal “meaningful use” requirement, set for January 15, 2015.

The proposed regulations set forth alternative ways for a physician to meet the “meaningful use” and proficiency requirements. Alternative methods include meeting necessary skills through employment, being an authorized participant on the Massachusetts Health Information Highway, and completing three hours  of continuing medical education credits in electronic health records. Among alternative methods, the BRM also included exceptions and provisions for physicians newly coming into the state.

The MMS claimed that of the 40,000 licensed physicians in Massachusetts, approximately 15,000 would be able to meet the meaningful use requirements. With 60 percent of the state’s physicians violating the statute, MMS argues that patient access to care would be severely harmed without the adoption of provisions that allow for a broader interpretation.

Massachusetts Law Limits ICU Nurses to Two Patients

A relatively new law passed in Massachusetts this summer will limit the number of patients assigned to nurses working in the intensive care unit to “no more than two.” The Massachusetts Nursing Association backed the staffing-ratio legislation.

An acuity tool will be used to monitor the number of nurses assigned to any one patient. The acuity tool will assess the stability of the patient and account for the nurses on staff. Some questions are yet to be addressed, such as whether a hospital will need to bring in off-duty nurses if every nurse on staff is at capacity with two patients. The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission will issue further regulation on implementation of the law.