Ratios, Anti-Violence Efforts, and more...

R.N. on Ratio Ballot Question: “It’s not good for patients."

The Coalition to Protect Patient Safety, consisting of nurses and other healthcare and community groups, last week released this television ad that points out the serious patient care deficiencies of a proposed statewide ballot question to impose government-mandated nurse staffing ratios. 

The ad features Massachusetts R.N. Tommi Gill-Samment, who states, “You can never apply a one-size-fits-all to nursing. It’s not good for patients. It’s not fair for patients.”

The American Nurses Association, Massachusetts and the Organization of Nurse Leaders are core members of The Coalition to Protect Patient Safety, along with MHA, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, and Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals. Others that have joined the growing list in opposition to the ballot question include the Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing, Infusion Nurses Society, Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, VNA Care, and numerous business and civic groups listed here.

Friday Postings Highlight Ongoing Safety Efforts

AHA’s #HAVhope Friday is a national day of awareness that unites the hospital and healthcare community to combat violence through the use of digital media.

On Friday, June 8, MHA will join the campaign by posting on its Twitter (@MAHealthHosp) and Facebook feeds.

Each day MHA and its membership are addressing the workplace safety issue on various fronts. Examples include MHA’s Employee Wellbeing Committee, which empowers hospitals to share best practices about how they are working with frontline clinical staff to improve and enhance their current work environment and wellbeing, including reducing violence in the workplace.

The Massachusetts Medical Society-MHA Joint Task Force on Physician Burnout identifies and prioritizes effective strategies to combat physician burnout and will advocate for statewide adoption of identified strategies and practices.

MHA Workplace Safety and Violence Prevention Workgroup focuses on developing and disseminating workplace safety program elements, best practices, data reporting, and employee well-being initiatives.

The MHA-convened MHA Statewide Quality Forum and its members chose to devise and implement a statewide educational strategy for alleviating violence in the healthcare workplace and to promote safety.

Don't Miss MHA's Annual Meeting This Week

MHA’s Annual Meeting is this week – June 6 to 8 – at the DoubleTree by Hilton Boston North Shore, Danvers. Headline speakers include:

Governor Charlie Baker
Susan Dentzer, president and CEO, The Network for Excellence in Health Innovation
Michael Botticelli, executive director, Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center
Scott Stratten, speaking on The Age of Disruption: Everything Has Changed and Nothing is Different.
Admiral Peter Neffenger, Deputy National Incident Commander for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, speaking on Leadership in Times of Chaos; and
Elise Wilson, RN, survivor of the 2017 stabbing attack in Harrington Hospital's ED.

Join more than 50 hospital CEOs for this collegial and informative event. Click here to register.

Reducing Inappropriate ED Use to Reduce Costs

Last week 20 Massachusetts business groups announced that they were beginning an effort to reduce avoidable use of hospital emergency departments (ED).

The “Massachusetts Employer-Led Coalition to Reduce Health Care Costs” said it will work with strategic partners,, including MHA, to reduce “inappropriate” use of EDs by 20% in two years.

It will do so by: educating employees about ED usage as compared to care provided through primary care practices, retail clinics, and urgent care centers; tracking and publicly reporting data on avoidable ED visits; advocating for policy changes that promote accountable care organizations, telemedicine, and mobile integrated health, among other options; and “work with labor unions, healthcare providers, health plans, employers, and employees to reward and encourage the appropriate use of the ED by aligning financial incentives, and bolster the availability of care in the community, especially during nights and weekends.”

Read the coalition’s policy brief here.

Coalition leaders Richard Lord, president and CEO of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said the group will help employers take a direct role in the health and health care of their employees and beneficiaries.

MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh, commenting at the media event last Wednesday, said the coalition’s efforts have the potential to reduce ED backups and reduce healthcare costs – two important priorities for the hospital community. He said the fact that businesses are collaborating with health interests and state government to achieve results is reminiscent of the unified effort that led to the commonwealth’s universal coverage healthcare reform law, Chapter 58, in 2006. MHA, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, and the state’s Health Policy Commission are strategic partners in the initiative.

Task Force Begins Exploring Pain Management Best Practices

While Congress continues its work on opioid-related legislation, the Trump Administration has increased its focus on ways to not only address opioid misuse and abuse, but also on the nexus of pain management and the opioid crisis. On May 30 and 31, the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force held its inaugural meeting.

The task force was established as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 and is represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Veterans Affairs Administration, and the Department of Defense. It is charged with proposing updates to best practices and recommendations regarding pain management and submitting them to the relevant agencies and general public. The task force is expected to release a preliminary report in August, a draft report in October, and a report for public comment in January 2019.

During the meeting, there were several panels related to the science behind pain, clinical guidelines, and the need to shift the culture of pain management. There was also significant focus on ensuring patients continue to have access to clinically appropriate and necessary medications as well as the need to remove barriers, including those imposed by the federal government and insurance companies, to non-opioid pain management therapies. Discussion also centered on consideration of special populations (e.g., children, minority populations) and how mental health and addiction interrelate.

President Signs Right to Try Legislation

Last Wednesday, President Trump signed into law the Right to Try Act of 2017, which will allow terminally ill patients who have exhausted approved treatment options and are unable to participate in a clinical trial the ability to try certain investigational drugs that have not received FDA approval.

Despite passing in the Senate in August 2017, the legislation stalled in the House until a 250-169 vote for passage on May 22. The delay was due to the Senate and House having different versions of the legislation and opposition from patient advocacy groups and Democrats, who expressed concern that without sufficient FDA oversight, bad actors would take advantage of vulnerable patients. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb originally criticized the bill, but ultimately expressed support, indicating that the FDA would implement the legislation “to promote access and protect patients” while building on the FDA’s “longstanding commitment to these important goals.”  Last Thursday, the FDA indicated that guidance on the new law would be published soon.


Michael L. Gustafson, M.D., MBA, the president of Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital since 2015, has been named the president of UMass Memorial Medical Center, effective September 1. Eric Dickson, M.D., president and CEO of the medical center’s parent company, UMass Memorial Health Care, announced Gustafson’s appointment last Wednesday. The former medical center president, Patrick Muldoon, retired from his post at the end of January 2018. Since then Jeff Smith, M.D., J.D., has served as interim president. When Gustafson assumes the presidency, Smith will return to his previous role of COO of the UMass Memorial Medical Center. Gustafson is currently a member of the MHA Board of Trustees.  He received his M.D. degree at West Virginia University and completed his general surgery residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Staying Prepared to Prevent Cyber Attacks and Data Breeches

Friday, July 20; 8:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
MHA Conference Center, Burlington, Mass.

In one swoop, hackers can access a wealth of healthcare data. Given the significant repercussions of a cyber attack, the healthcare sector needs to constantly evaluate its vulnerabilities to ensure that systems are secure. As recent events have made clear, protecting information isn’t easy. Hackers are adept at finding entries into healthcare organizations’ information systems. At this conference, MHA will provide an overview of the vulnerabilities in healthcare and the various strategies that organizations should have in place to protect their information. This conference will include, among other items, a hospital case study of a recent attack and a legal review of how hospitals should be preparing. Confirmed speakers are John Riggi, Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk at the American Hospital Association; David S. Szabo, partner of Locke Lord; and Christopher Novak, director of the Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center.  Mark your calendars for this important program and check back at MHA Education Department’s Upcoming Programs page for more information on this and other offerings.

John LoDico, Editor