The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a review of regulations in response to a request from President Obama for all federal government agencies to streamline regulatory procedures.
Among various initiatives for review are several that could directly affect hospitals.
Use of Telemedicine to Increase Access. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services intends to improve access to care for beneficiaries in rural and critical access areas by increasing the circumstances in which a hospital can use telemedicine to obtain services from a practitioner credentialed at a distant hospital.
CMS will allow the hospital to accept the credentials of a practitioner at a distant hospital so long as the distant hospital is also a Medicare participating entity and the two hospitals have a written telemedicine agreement in place. This change will improve the ability of rural and critical access hospitals to provide a broader spectrum of care and services.
FDA’s Bar Code Rule. The rule has been in place since 2004 and requires certain human drug and biological products to have on their labels a linear bar code that contains, at a minimum, the drug’s NDC number. The rule also requires the use of machine-readable information on blood and blood component labels.
Bar codes on drugs allow healthcare professionals to use scanning equipment to verify that the right drug is being given to the right patient at the right time. The system is intended to help reduce the number of medication errors that occur in hospitals and healthcare settings. The Food and Drug Administration estimated that the bar-code rule, when fully implemented, would help prevent nearly 500,000 adverse events and transfusion errors over 20 years. FDA estimates the economic benefit of avoiding these adverse events to be $93 billion over the same period.
The review will seek to assess the costs and benefits and to determine whether the rule should be modified to take into account changes in technology since the rule went into effect.
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