bulletins


Barton Gilman regularly publishes the School Law Bulletin and Health Law Bulletin, e-newsletters that cover emerging trends and current information impacting school law and health care legal matters.

Health Law Bulletin 2016

  • New RI laws for providers, insurers and pharmacists intended to reduce opioid abuse On July 12, 2016, Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed eight bills into law focused on limiting opioid abuse. Written by legislators on the governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, the bills aim to be a “comprehensive approach” to the state’s opioid abuse crisis. From prescription limits for health care providers and pharmacies ...
  • TIME SENSITIVE: What you need to know about the second phase of OCR’s HIPAA audit program On July 11, 2016, selected health plans, health care providers and health care clearinghouses were sent notification letters regarding their inclusion in the second phase of OCR’s HIPAA audit program. This portion of the program is a desk audit and review of the selected entities’ documentation for compliance with the following, commonly noncompliant, areas: Privacy Rule – ...

Health Law Bulletin Winter 2015

  • Avoid the uncertainties: Best practices for dealing with Health Care Powers of Attorney or Proxies By W. Parish Lentz Uncertainty over decision making authority for an incompetent patient can delay medical treatments and potentially diminish the quality of health care for the patient. In the event a patient becomes incapable of making informed decisions regarding his or her health care, a Durable Health Care Power of Attorney (Rhode Island) or a Health ...
  • U.S. Supreme Court: NC dental licensing board ran afoul of antitrust laws The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners – comprised primarily of practicing dentists elected by other practicing dentists – violated federal anti-trust laws by attempting to exclude non-dentist teeth whitening companies from offering their services. The Supreme Court determined that the dental licensing board was not acting as ...
  • The bad medical outcome: A proactive response to a potential claim enhances your defense By Frank Connor A medical professional who has concerns that a patient may pursue a malpractice claim after a poor outcome of some kind can take immediate steps to more aggressively manage the risk of liability and strengthen the defense against the potential claim. Contacting your professional liability insurance carrier right away provides an opportunity to conduct ...
  • Affordable Care Act opens door to challenging jury award of future medical expenses in med-mal cases By Pamela S. Gilman and Edward D. Shoulkin With universal health coverage fast becoming a reality under the Affordable Care Act, medical malpractice defendants are looking to challenge jury awards of future medical costs on the basis that they will be largely paid by health insurance. A Massachusetts statute allows a medical defendant in a post-trial hearing ...

School Law Bulletin Winter 2015

  • Clarifying Misconceptions About Title IX By C. Alexander Chiulli Despite being well known for successfully promoting gender equality in educational programs, particularly for women’s and girls’ sports programs, Title IX is often misunderstood by students, coaches, parents, and administrators. Perhaps the biggest misconception is that Title IX requires men’s and women’s sports and programs to be equal on a one-to-one basis. Instead, ...
  • Schools must consider the interplay between individual health care plans for students and federal disability law By David A. Kane Despite addressing students’ individual medical needs in good faith, Rhode Island and Massachusetts schools may nonetheless violate federal law by failing to consider and implement an accommodation plan under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In a series of decisions, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health ...
  • Incorporating social media training into a school curriculum By Brendan T. Malvey In September 2014, the United Kingdom added cyber-security to its secondary school curriculum. Schools in Britain will now educate students on firewalls, malware, and cybercrime, as well as teach students about career opportunities in the field of cyber-security. The move was reportedly in response to growing concerns over a rising skills gap in ...
  • MA charter schools should expect heightened oversight in wake of report By Brendan T. Malvey and Greg Vanden-Eykel A recent state audit found significant deficiencies in the oversight of charter schools by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), including maintaining outdated data on student waitlists and applying inconsistent standards in renewing school charters. Findings by the Massachusetts Office of the State Auditor include: DESE’s charter school ...

Health Law Bulletin Fall 2014

  • Pre-suit med-mal settlements not exempt from NPDB reporting requirements By Frank Connor According to a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, all negotiated resolutions of medical malpractice claims following a written demand for settlement must be reported to the federal government, including under laws such as the Massachusetts statute designed to encourage disclosure of medical errors, apologies by practitioners, and ...
  • Certain RI health care employers need to revise policies on employee criminal records checks in wake of new law By Sheri L. Pizzi and Greg Vanden-Eykel A new Rhode Island law requires mandatory criminal records checks of new employees of home health care facilities, nursing care providers, hospice providers, and nursing facilities, and, as a result, these employers must revise their policies and practices to comply with the new law. What does the new law require ...
  • New MA law allows attorneys to question prospecive jurors directly By Pamela S. Gilman A new Massachusetts law promises to alter how Superior Court jury trials are conducted, but the full impact is presently an open question. Gov. Deval Patrick in August signed into law a bill allowing attorneys for the first time in the state’s history to directly question potential jurors. The practice, known as voir dire, ...
  • Anti-trust case before U.S. Supreme Court could impact powers of state medical boards The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case that could impact the powers and composition of state medical licensing boards. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is asserting that the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners – comprised primarily of practicing dentists elected by other practicing dentists – has violated federal anti-trust laws ...

School Law Bulletin Fall 2014

  • New MA law allows employees to take leave if victims of domestic violence By Matt Plain and Greg Vanden-Eykel A new law in Massachusetts allows employees up to 15 days leave in any 12-month period if they or their family members are victims of domestic violence or abusive behavior. The law, which went into effect Aug. 8, requires employers (including charter schools) with 50 or more employees to provide leave ...
  • Can school officials search student cell phones? By Steve Adams School officials from time to time may take cell phones away from students for any number of reasons, such as violating a school rule prohibiting texting during class. However, taking control of a cell phone during school hours does not give teachers or administrators free rein to search the data stored on the cell ...
  • How will California teacher-tenure ruling affect Rhode Island? In June, California Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu struck down California’s teacher-tenure system in a decision that has been widely hailed and criticized. In Vergara v. State of California, Treu ruled that California laws that protect tenured teachers from dismissal deny students equal protection of the law under the Constitution of California. The plaintiffs in ...

Health Law Bulletin Spring 2014

  • ‘Over-disclosing’ expert witnesses in med-mal case can potentially lead to sanctions By Angela L. Carr Parties in medical malpractice lawsuits can be sanctioned for “over-disclosing” experts prior to trial, a Rhode Island Superior Court judge recently ruled. In the case before the Court, defense counsel in a supplemental interrogatory answer identified seven expert witnesses with some overlapping medical specialties. In response, the plaintiff disclosed two additional experts classified ...
  • Health care professionals must report opioid overdoses under new RI health regulation By Frank Connor Under a new Rhode Island Department of Health regulation, health care professionals and hospitals must report opioid overdoses or suspected overdoses within 48 hours. Declaring opioid-related overdose deaths in the state a “public health epidemic,” the Department of Health said the new reporting requirement will help identify the risk factors for overdose, and identify individuals ...
  • HIPAA compliance update after the Omnibus Final Rule By Kristen M. Whittle In 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted sweeping changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) that substantially altered rules on privacy, security, and breach notification and increased penalty amounts for violations. This overhaul, known as the Omnibus Final Rule, heightened the requirements for ...
  • Practice trends emerge following adoption of Mass. med-mal notice law In July 2012, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a medical malpractice reform law designed to encourage pre-suit settlement talks. The law, among other requirements, mandates that a patient’s attorney provide notice to a healthcare provider, within 182 days prior to filing a lawsuit, of any alleged medical negligence, unless the claimant files a med-mal suit within ...

School Law Bulletin Spring 2014

  • Court rejects challenge to RI school funding formula By Matt Plain The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently rejected a constitutional challenge to the state’s education funding formula established in 2010, ruling that the General Assembly’s authority in promoting education as it sees fit cannot be disturbed by the judiciary except in rare circumstances. The school committees for Woonsocket and Pawtucket, along with their respective superintendents, ...
  • Terminating teachers for violations of social media policies By Steve Adams The termination of a New Hampshire teacher for refusing to “un-friend” students on Facebook highlights the boundary line between teachers and students, and reminds us that schools need to address 21st century forms of communication in their policies regulating the conduct of all members of the school community. The New Hampshire school fired the ...
  • Schools have wide latitude in barring students from high school graduation ceremonies By Steve Adams When enforcing student discipline policies school officials will sometimes suspend high school seniors and bar them from participating in graduation ceremonies. A student facing a suspension has the right to appeal to the Rhode Island Commissioner of Education to request a modification of the suspension, including permission to join his or her classmates at ...
  • Online student records raise concerns over privacy protections By Tim Groves As schools and school districts increasingly turn to third-party vendors to assist with their growing data processing needs, controversies are surfacing on how personally identifiable student information is shared and protected. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects personally identifiable information (PII) from disclosure without parental or adult student consent. ...

School Law Bulletin Winter 2014

  • Student suicide resulting from cyberbullying can create legal risk By Steve Adams The tragic suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick last fall – following months of cyberbullying by two of her Florida middle school classmates – has highlighed the potential liability schools might face in a similar situation. The mother of the deceased girl has indicated she plans to file wrongful death lawsuits against “those responsible” for ...
  • New Massachusetts law substantially changes school discipline procedures By Greg Vanden-Eykel As of July 1, procedures governing the suspension and expulsion of K-12 students attending public and charter schools in Massachusetts will be substantially altered. Schools should prepare for these impending changes by revising their student exclusion policies and training administrators and teachers on how to execute the new policies. These changes are the result ...
  • Can a school committee publicly release documents referenced in an ‘open session’ hearing on teacher discipline? Rhode Island school committees typically address personnel disciplinary matters in closed sessions. However, Rhode Island law permits an employee to request that the hearing be held in a session open to the public. When this occurs, are documents that are referenced and discussed at the open session available to the public and the media? By ...
  • RI schools get ready for new temporary caregiver leave law By Sheri L. Pizzi and Greg Vanden-Eykel Schools that have elected to participate in Rhode Island’s Temporary Disability Insurance program should revise their employment manuals, policies, and information brochures to ensure compliance with new statewide employee leave requirements that went into effect Jan. 1. Gov. Chafee in July 2013 signed into law the Temporary Caregiver Insurance program ...

Health Law Bulletin Winter 2014

  • National organization updates chronic pain management guidelines By Frank Connor Medical licensure boards and other state agencies in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are aggressively investigating chronic pain management regimens prescribed by physicians as part of an effort to combat patient misuse and abuse of opioids. The boards take their cue in part from guidelines on opioid use issued by the Federation of State Medical Boards ...
  • Overcoming alleged ‘wrong diagnosis’ at med-mal trial Barton Gilman recently obtained a jury verdict in favor of a neurologist against a woman who alleged the doctor negligently misdiagnosed her has having multiple sclerosis. The woman claimed she labored under the mistaken belief that she suffered from an incurable, life altering disease, and that she had received over 900 painful Betaseron injections and ...
  • Minimizing emergency department malpractice risks By Pamela S. Gilman Many emergency department malpractice claims are pursued by patients who have a bad outcome resulting from an unrelated condition following an ED visit. What steps can ED physicians and nurses take to minimize the risk of a misdiagnosis medical malpractice lawsuit? Our firm recently obtained a jury defense verdict in a case involving a ...
  • RI licensure board issues social media guidelines for medical practices By Angela L. Carr With physicians expanding their use of social networking websites, the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline recently issued guidelines on the proper use of social media by healthcare providers and medical practices. The Board’s guidelines address two primary areas of concern: (1) maintaining appropriate boundaries between personal and professional use of social ...