Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Employee Violence in the Workplace: Part 2

Potentially Violent Employee Identified . . . Now what?

In part 1 of the Employee Violence in the Workplace series, we identified the 10 possible signs an employee might become violent. Then the question is, “what do I do if I suspect that one of my employees might become violent?”

John is Bill’s immediate supervisor. For a couple of weeks now, Bill has shown signs that he might become violent. John is aware of this situation and has decided to “keep an eye on the situation”. About a month later, Bill has an outburst and assaults a co-worker. After the incident, John reports to his supervisor that he was “keeping an eye on the situation”. John and Bill are both fired and the organization now has possible legal action pending against them.

If you suspect that one of your employees might become violent, then action must be taken.

Here are the steps to take if you suspect one of your employees might become violent:

  1. Document your findings and detail the reason behind your suspicion.
  2. Notify your immediate supervisor of the situation and your action plan moving forward.
  3. Have a meeting between you, the suspected employee, and a witness (your supervisor or a manager from another department). During this meeting, talk with the suspected employee about your observations and how they are effecting their performance in the workplace. Show empathy and do a lot more listening than talking. Do not tell the employee that you suspect them of becoming violent, but ensure they understand the changes you have noticed.
  4. Talk with your supervisor about the meeting with the employee and discuss options. Some options might include a change of position (horizontal) within the organization, a few days of paid time off, etc.
  5. Have a second meeting between you, the suspected employee, and a witness (your supervisor or a manager from another department). During this meeting, review what was discussed at the previous meeting with the employee and the steps the organization is going to take moving forward.
  6. Document all actions taken and conversations that have occurred since step 1.

While nothing is guaranteed, following these six step will help protect your organization from possible violence and legal action. Your organization is not only protecting itself and the other employees, it is also creating a culture within where employees will feel more open to the idea of approaching their supervisor if they are having problems in the workplace or at home. This open communication will help avoid potentially violent workplace situations in the future.

Coming soon: Part 3 in this series of Employee Violence in the Workplace – How violent acts affect your organization.

For more information on this and other HR, HIPAA, OSHA, and Medicare related topics, email or visit our web site at

Other related topics:

Employee Violence in the Workplace Part 1

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Healthcare Hazards and OSHA Safety

What are the risks?

Healthcare is involved, directly or indirectly, with the provision of health services to individuals. These services can occur in a variety of work settings, including hospitals, clinics, dental offices, out-patient surgery centers, birthing centers, emergency medical care, home healthcare, and nursing homes.  

By it's very nature, the realm of healthcare is full or risks and potential dangers.  All healthcare workers need to be adequately trained in these hazards and the mitigation of risk to themselves, other staff members, their patients and visitors.

What types of hazards do workers face?

Healthcare workers face a number of serious safety and health hazards. They include bloodborne pathogens and biological hazards, potential chemical and drug exposures, waste anesthetic gas exposures, respiratory hazards, ergonomic hazards from lifting and repetitive tasks, laser hazards, workplace violence, hazards associated with laboratories, and radioactive material and x-ray hazards. Some of the potential chemical exposures include formaldehyde, used for preservation of specimens for pathology; ethylene oxide, glutaraldehyde, and paracetic acid used for sterilization; and numerous other chemicals used in healthcare laboratories.

How many workers get sick or injured?

More workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other. This industry has one of the highest rates of work related injuries and illnesses. In 2010, the healthcare and social assistance industry reported more injury and illness cases than any other private industry sector -- 653,900 cases (Table 2 (PDF)). That is 152,000 more cases than the next industry sector: manufacturing. In 2010, the incidence rate for work related nonfatal injuries and illnesses in health care and social assistance was 139.9; the incidence rate for nonfatal injury and illnesses in all private industry was 107.7.

Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants had the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders of all occupations in 2010. The incidence rate of work related musculoskeletal disorders for these occupations was 249 per 10,000 workers. This compares to the average rate for all workers in 2010 of 34.

Hospitals have serious hazards—lifting and moving patients, needlesticks, slips, trips, and falls, and the potential for agitated or combative patients or visitors—along with a dynamic, unpredictable environment and a unique culture. Caregivers feel an ethical duty to "do no harm" to patients, and some will even put their own safety and health at risk to help a patient.

Other than doctors and nurses, what workers are exposed?

In addition to the medical staff, large healthcare facilities employ a wide variety of trades that have health and safety hazards associated with them. These include mechanical maintenance, medical equipment maintenance, housekeeping, food service, building and grounds maintenance, laundry, and administrative staff.

Understanding the Risks

Hospital work can be surprisingly dangerous.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the likelihood of injury or illness resulting in days away from work is higher in hospitals than in construction and manufacturing—two industries that are traditionally thought to be relatively hazardous.

Injuries and illnesses come at a high cost. 

When an employee gets hurt on the job, medical facilities pay the price in many ways, including: Workers' compensation for lost wages and medical costs; temporary staffing, backfilling, and overtime when injured employees miss work; turnover costs when an injured employee quits; and decreased productivity and morale as employees become physically and emotionally fatigued.

Workplace safety also affects patient care.

Manual lifting can injure caregivers and also put patients at risk of falls, fractures, bruises, and skin tears. Caregiver fatigue, injury, and stress are tied to a higher risk of medication errors and patient infections.

Healthcare is a busy world; full of regulations and sometimes OSHA training is that last thing to receive attention. The risks of the personal hazards and potential OSHA fines or lawsuits are too prevalent to let this required training fall by the way side.  Make sure your entire staff is training in OSHA compliance annually.  Develop and implement your safety plan as a regular part of daily practice. 

For more information on providing your office with OSHA compliance training or additional HIPAA, OSHA, Medicare and HR resources, please visit our web site: or email support at

Employee Violence in the Workplace: Part 1

10 Identifying signs of a potentially violent employee

Jan just came back to the office from her lunch break. She sits down at her desk and continues working on the report that she had been focused on in the morning. Hearing the sound of somebody walking quickly in her direction, Jan looks up to see Sue standing in-front of her desk and is obviously upset. Sue begins to yell at Jan about something that occurred the previous week. Soon, Sue shows signs that her emotions are getting out of control. Within moments, Sue reaches across Jan’s desk and slaps her. This situation appears to have come “out of the blue”. However, there are usually signs or behaviors that would have warned a supervisor that something was wrong, before the situation became violent.

Employee violence in the workplace is a very serious matter. Most people think of violence as a physical assault. However, workplace violence is a much broader problem. It is any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her employment.
Rumors, swearing, verbal abuse, pranks, arguments, property damage, vandalism, sabotage, pushing, theft, physical assaults, psychological trauma, anger-related incidents, rape, arson and murder are all examples of workplace violence.
Identifying an employees’ behavior that could lead to violence, is a big step in avoiding most violent situations in the workplace. compiled a list of the 10 signs of a potentially violent employee.

A combination of a few (or more) of the following behaviors should be reason for concern.
1. Excessive tardiness or absences: An employee who consistently leaves their workday early without authorization, or presents numerous excuses for shortening the workday, should set off an alarm. This is a significant sign for an individual who is typically prompt and committed to a full workday.
2. Increased need for supervision: Generally, an employee requires less supervision as he or she becomes more proficient at their work. An employee who exhibits an increased need for supervision, or with whom the supervisor must spend an inordinate amount of time, may be an individual who is signaling a need for help. Managers should be alert to such a change and consider offering professional intervention if needed.
3. Lack of performance: If an employee who is normally efficient and productive experiences a sudden or sustained drop in performance, there is reason for concern. This is actually a classic warning sign of dissatisfaction, and the manager should meet with the employee immediately to determine a mutually beneficial course of action.
4. Change in work habits: As in the case of reduced productivity, an employee exhibiting inconsistent work habits may be in need of intervention. If you think about your peers at work, they are typically quite consistent in their work habits. If habits change, the manager has reason to suspect the individual is in need of assistance and action should be taken.
5. Inability to concentrate: If an employee is suddenly unable to concentrate, this may indicate that they are distracted and in trouble. A manager should be notified to try and encourage the employee to seek assistance.
6. Signs of stress: If an employee who has traditionally adhered to safety procedures is suddenly involved in accidents or safety violations, this is often a sign that the employee is under a large degree of stress, which can be a significant contributor to workplace violence.
7. Change in attitude: A sustained change in behavior is often an indication of an employee in difficulty. People are typically quite familiar with the personalities of their peers and are often quick to notice major changes. Your work environment should be managed in such a way as to ensure trust and open communication.
8. Weapons fascination: A classic behavioral warning sign is someone who is fascinated with weapons. This should be easily recognized and reported.
9. Drugs and alcohol: Watch for changes in the person’s mood or character when drugs and alcohol are used. Often people who have substance abuse problems act out in the workplace, and it’s important that every organization have some methodology in place to identify and assist victims of drug or alcohol abuse.
10. Not taking responsibility for their actions: A person who uses excuses and blames others is a classic behavioral warning sign that is easy to identify but just as often ignored by managers. A worker who engages in this behavior is typically signaling for assistance and may require counseling.

While the 10 signs above do not guarantee an employee is going to become violent, they are signs to look for in helping prevent violence in the workplace.

Coming soon: Part 2 in this series of Employee Violence in the Workplace – Potentially Violent Employee Identified . . . Now what?

For more information on this and other HR, HIPAA, OSHA, and Medicare related topics, email or visit our web site at

Monday, September 28, 2015

Duties of the HIPAA Compliance Security Officer

Specific responsibilities of this important role

While there are similarities between the HIPAA Compliance Privacy Officer position and the HIPAA Compliance Security Officer role, the differences are worth taking note of.

The HIPAA Compliance Security Officer serves as the process director for all ongoing activities that serve to provide appropriate access to and protect the confidentially of patient, provider, employee, and business information in compliance with the practice policies and standards. Rather than the in-person exchange and office environment, this positions is more focused on the information technology side of HIPAA compliance.

The responsibilities of the HIPAA Compliance Security Officer include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensures that your information systems comply with all applicable federal laws and regulations.
  • Ensures that none of your information systems compromises the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of any other of your information systems.
  • Develops, documents, and ensures proper dissemination of appropriate security information systems and the data contained within them.
  • Ensures that any of your newly acquired information systems have features that support required and/or addressable Security Rule implementation specifications.
  • Coordinates the selection, implementation, and administration of your security controls.
  • Ensures that your workforce members receive regular security awareness training.
  • Conducts periodic Risk Analysis of your information systems and security processes.
  • Develops and implements an effective Risk Management program.
  • Regularly monitors and evaluates threats and risks to your information systems that contain electronic protected health information (ePHI).
  • Develops and monitors/audits records of your information systems’ activity to identify inappropriate activity.
  • Maintains an inventory of all of your information systems that contain ePHI.
  • Creates an effective security incident policy and related procedures.
  • Ensures adequate physical security controls exist to protect your ePHI.
  • Coordinates with your Privacy Office to ensure that security policies, procedures, and controls support compliance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
  • Evaluates new security technologies that may be appropriate for protecting your information systems that contain ePHI.
While there are some apparent differences between the HIPAA Compliance Privacy Officer and the HIPAA Compliance Security Office, their main focus remains the same; to protect the privacy and security of all patient protect health information.

For more information on this and other HIPAA, HR, OSHA, and Medicare related topics,  please email or visit our web site at

Other articles on a related topic:

Duties of the HIPAA Compliance Privacy Officer

Proper PHI Disposal

HIPAA Violations and Social Networking

Friday, September 25, 2015

Duties of the HIPAA Compliance Privacy Officer

There are some very specific duties for this important position

This is one of the most vital roles in any healthcare organization. It is the HIPAA Compliance Privacy Officer who serves as the focal point for compliance activities and with regard to planning, implementing, and monitoring the HIPAA Privacy and Compliance Program for the organization.
Compliance to HIPAA Privacy policies is one of the many responsibilities this person has in the office. The Compliance Privacy Officer has the authority to direct supervised personnel in the office as to the proper procedures and practices to enable compliance with HIPAA Privacy policies. This position also has direct access to management.

HIPAA Privacy Compliance Officer’s responsibilities:

  • Oversee and monitor the implementation of the HIPAA Privacy Compliance Program.
  •  Report to management regularly on the current state of HIPAA Privacy compliance and make recommendations to improve your offices compliance efficiency.
  • Develop, coordinate, and participate in an established training program.
  • Ensure that independent contractors and agents who furnish medical services to your office are aware of the requirements of your privacy compliance program.
  • Assist your financial management in coordinating internal privacy compliance reviews and monitoring activities. This includes overseeing and documenting your annual self-audit.
  • Independently investigate and act on matters related to privacy compliance.
  • Develop policies and programs that encourage managers and employees to report improprieties without fear of retaliation.
  • Review all documents and other information that are relevant to privacy compliance activities.

It is important to appreciate how critical the HIPAA Privacy Compliance Officer is to the successful compliance of any healthcare organization. Be sure to understand what the role is of this vital position so that it can best support the compliance efforts of your organization.

For additional information on this or other HIPAA, HR, OSHA, or Medicare related topics, please email or visit our web site at

Some articles that are related to this topic:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

4 Different Generations, 4 Different Way to Communicate

How to improve the communication between very different groups of people

In order to effectively communicate between the different generations, it is important to understand their differences and their unique approach to life. It begins with values that are important to each generation. For example, while the Baby Boomers put a lot of emphasis on work, the Generation X’s would rather find a good work/life balance.

There is an article from Colorado State University that addresses each of the four recent generations:


Traditionalists values are influenced by the experiences of their parents whose values go back to the 1800s. This generation experienced the Great Depression and World War II both of which shape how they view the world.
Traditionalists Value
  • Privacy: Traditionalists are the private, silent generation. Don't expect members of this generation to share their inner thoughts.
  • Hard Work: They believe in paying their dues and become irritated when they perceive others are wasting their time. Members of this generation often feel that their career identifies who they are.
  • Trust: A traditionalist's word is his/her bond.
  • Formality: Whether written or in oral communication a formal communication style is preferred. This generation values formal dress and organizational structures.
  • Authority and institutional leadership: Traditionalists have a great deal of respect for authority.
  • Social Order: Other generations may view this desire for social order and placement as bias, prejudice or even racism or sexism.
  • Things: This group loves their stuff and they won't get rid of it. Some may call them pack rats but others would argue that they remember the depression days and going with out. You never know when you might need it.

Supportive Behaviors and Tips For Communicating with Traditionalists
  • By nature Traditionalists are private, the "silent generation". Don't expect members of this generation to share their thoughts immediately.
  • For the Traditionalist an educator's word is his/her bond, so it's important to focus on words rather than body language or inferences.
  • Face to face or written communication is preferred.
  • Don't waste their time, or let them feel as though their time is being wasted.

Baby Boomers
Morris Massey calls this group the Nuagers. This generation represents the children of our World War II veterans. They did not go through economically hard times as their parents did, they had the good life - the Traditionalists wanted them to have the best and as a result, the "Me" decade arrived.

Baby Boomers Value
  • Competition: Boomers value peer competition and can be see by others as being egocentric.
  • Change: Boomers thrive for possibilities and constant change.
  • Hard Work: Boomers started the "workaholic" trend. The difference between Traditionalists and Boomers is that Boomers value the hard work because they view it as necessary for moving to the next level of success while Traditionalists work hard because they feel that it is the right thing to do.
  • Success: This generation is committed to climbing the ladder of success.
  • Body Language: Boomers are the show me generation and body language is important.
  • Teamwork: This group embraces a team based approach to business-they are eager to get rid of the command and control style of their Traditionalist predecessors.
  • Anti Rules and Regulations: They don't appreciate rules for the sake of having rules and they will challenge the system.
  • Inclusion: This generation will accept people on an equal basis as long as they can perform to their standards.
  • Will Fight For A Cause: While they don't like problems, if you give them a cause they will fight for it.

Supportive Behaviors & Tips For Communicating With Baby Boomers
  • Boomers are the "show me" generation, so your body language is important when communicating.
  • Speak in an open, direct style but avoid controlling language.
  • Answer questions thoroughly and expect to be pressed for the details.
  • Present options to demonstrate flexibility in your thinking.

Generation Xers
Morris Massey refers to this group as the Syn-Tech generation. This generation is both economically conservative, remembering double-digit inflation and the stress that their parents faced during times of on and off unemployment. Unlike their predecessors, they will not rely on institutions for their long-term security.

Generation Xers Value
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: Xers believe in investing in their own development rather than in their organization's. While others may see them as disloyal they are cautious about investing in relationships with employers because experience has shown that these relationships are not reliable. Cavalier as it may sound, one Xer told a Boomer that if you want loyalty get a dog.
  • Loyalty: To an Xer, this may mean two-weeks notice.
  • Independence and Creativity: Xers have clear goals and prefer managing their own time and solving their own problems rather than having them managed by a supervisor.
    Information: They value access to information and love plenty of it.
  • Feedback: This group needs continuous feedback and they use the feedback to adapt to new situations. This generation is flexible.
  • Quality of Worklife: This generation works hard but they would rather find quicker more efficient ways of working so that they have time for fun. While Boomers are working hard to move up the ladder, Xers are working hard so that they can have more time to balance work and life responsibilities.

Supportive Behaviors & Tips for Communicating With Generation X
  • Use email as a primary communication tool.
  • Talk in short sound bites to keep their attention.
  • Ask them for their feedback and provide them with regular feedback.
  • Share information with them on a regular basis and strive to keep them in the loop.
  • Use an informal communication style.

Generation Y (Also Called Nexters)
If you think that Generation Xers were challenging for Traditionalists and Boomers to teach, just wait until Generation Y arrives. Generation Y represents people who have grown up during the high tech revolution. They have never known a world without high speed video games, speed dial and ATMs. The secret to motivating this group is to provide systematic and frequent feedback - as it happens.

Generation Y Values
  • Positive Reinforcement: Members of this cyber generation value positive reinforcement at accelerated rates compared to older generations.
  • Autonomy: This group wants more input into how they are learning and the independence to do it.
  • Positive Attitudes: This group grew up during tranquil times and as a result have a very optimistic outlook on life in general.
  • Diversity: This group grew up with more diversity than their predecessors and if not exposed to it in their community then they were introduced diverse people and cultures through the media.
  • Money: This group is used to making and spending money.
  • Technology: Technology is valued and is used as a tool for multi-tasking.

Supportive Behaviors & Tips for Communicating With Generation Y
  • Use action words and challenge them at every opportunity.
  • They will resent it if you talk down to them.
  • They prefer email communication.
  • Seek their feedback constantly and provide them with regular feedback.
  • Use humor and create a fun learning environment. Don't take yourself too seriously.
  • Encourage them to take risks and break the rules so that they can explore new ways of learning.

Managing the Generational Mix
How do we keep a generationally diverse group of learners motivated in today's environment? The first step to making the generational diversity work is to understand what motivates members of different generations and to institute teaching techniques that are flexible enough to meet their needs. In today's complex mix of generations, Traditionalists are found with Boomers and Boomers with Generation Xers. Trends toward later retirements mean that traditionalists are still happy working and learning and Generation Xers are quickly moving into positions of power and influence where they are supervising and educating members of older generations.

For information on topics relating to HR, HIPAA, OSHA, and Medicare, please email or visit our web site at

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hire the Right Employee

Hiring the right employee for the right position will save your practice both time and money.

Judy has just given you her two weeks’ notice. Her position is a critical part of your practice. You spend time advertising the job opening. You spend more time interviewing many “awesome” candidates. An offer for the position is extended and accepted. You take a deep sigh of relief that all is well. However, about 90 days into the new person’s employment things are not going well and they are not going to work out. Make that 60 days . . . nope, 30 days . . . you knew it within the first week. It’s time to cut ties are start over. More time and money spent on the hiring process.

Due to the high turnover rate in the medical field, it is especially important to have an effective hiring system in place. When you hire the right employee, it reflects well for both the person who made the hiring decision and the practice. If a person is hired due to a poor hiring decision, it opens up the possibility of lawsuits, negative culture change, lower morale among other employee, and a decrees in performance. Hiring the right employee for the right position is one of the most important decisions your practice will ever make.

Step #1: Define the Job

Know the exact job duties a new employee would perform and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) required for the position and then assess whether hiring a new employee is the best option. Many organizations make the mistake of hiring a new employee as soon as they perceive that there is a need. It is very important for the employer to know exactly what job duties a new employee would perform and to assess whether hiring a new employee is the best option. If you do decide to hire a new employee, then you will need to write a job posting. Be sure to write the job posting based on the KSA’s a person will need in order to be successful at the open position.

Step #2: Develop an Applicant Pool

Create a pool of applicants from which you will pick your new employee. This pool can be generated using a variety of sources including, but not limited to current employees, referrals, colleges/universities, employment agencies, internet job sites, job fairs, and radio.

Step #3: Applicant Selection Process

Use a uniform process to evaluate and rate each candidate and select the one best suited for the open position. This process should include, interviews, applicant rating (on KSA’a and culture fit), pre-employment tests, and notification of unqualified candidates.

Step #4: Final Selection Process

Before a hiring decision is made, all interested parties should have the opportunity to interview each final candidate. This final interview is important as it generates buy-in from the decision makers within the practice. Each final candidate should be ranked by every person who interviews them. Once the interview are complete, have a meeting between all of the individuals who interviewed the candidate to get their feedback and rankings. After all of the information has been gathered and assessed, it is time to make the hiring decision. Before making an offer to the selected candidate, it is important that you conduct a background check on the selected candidate. Once the background check has been done and you are satisfied with the results, an offer should be extended to the selected candidate. Be sure the job offer is officially accepted, before notifying the other candidates who were not selected. Once the job offer is accepted, you can begin the new-hire process.

Hiring the right employee will save your practice time, money, strengthen your organizational culture, limit your liability, keep your other employees happy, and make your practice more productive.

For any questions on this or other HR, HIPAA, OSHA, or Medicare related products, please email us at or visit our web site at

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Proper PHI Disposal

Dispose of PHI properly and help eliminate this area of potential liability

When PHI and ePHI is no longer needed by your office or you have maintained your archived records for the specified period of time, it is vital that these documents and electronic document be disposed of properly. By disposing of these documents and electronic documents properly, you are greatly lessening your chance of this critical area of compliance being a liability for your organization or practice.

In general, examples of proper disposal methods may include, but are not limited to:
• For PHI in paper records, shredding, burning, pulping, or pulverizing the records so that PHI is rendered essentially unreadable, indecipherable, and otherwise cannot be reconstructed.
• Maintaining labeled prescription bottles and other PHI in opaque bags in a secure area and using a disposal vendor as a business associate to pick up and shred or otherwise destroy the PHI.
• For PHI on electronic media, clearing (using software or hardware products to overwrite media with non-sensitive data), purging (degaussing or exposing the media to a strong magnetic field in order to disrupt the recorded magnetic domains), or destroying the media (disintegration, pulverization, melting, incinerating, or shredding).

In addition to the properly disposing of PHI and ePHI, it is important to remember that you must also properly dispose of all PHI that has been accessed by any electronic device. If the device is no longer going to be used, it is very difficult to properly dispose of the ePHI files on these devices, so HIPAA suggest the entire device is destroyed.

Properly disposing of all PHI and ePHI is improve greatly reduce the risk of a health information breach, thus improving your chances of avoiding a violation fine.

For more information on protecting your office with this issue and other HIPAA, HR, OSHA, and Medicare topics, please visit our web site: or email support at


Monday, September 21, 2015

Improve the Smell, Increase the Production

How Foul Odor Affects the Workplace

We have all been in “that” situation. You have in the past or are currently working with somebody who’s smell makes your eyes water. All could think about is getting away from that person and giving your nose a break. It was time for lunch and you thought you had a little break from the stink, but it was not the case. The smelly person asked you to go to lunch with her. You press forward with your day . . . and the smell.

Offensive odors in the workplace are an issue that need to be taken seriously. Any type of foul odor could be a distraction for the other employees and will lead to a decrease in productivity. In addition to the decrease in productivity, some odors could be a health concern for employees with asthma or other health challenges.

Offending odors include, but are not limited to:
  • Poor personal hygiene habits (body odor or bad breath)
  • Excessive perfume or cologne
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Flatulence

It is important to have a detailed odor policy in your workplace. This type of policy will help eliminate the majority of possible odor offenses. If a situation does arise, you will have this established policy to support you when handling the offense. Here are some tips in dealing with such a situation:

·         Start with a soft approach to set the employee at ease, but don't beat around the bush.
·         Tell the employee directly what the problem is as you perceive it and remind them about the policy in your workplace.
·         Whenever possible, attach the feedback to a business issue, such as the impact on the team.
·         Advise that the behavior is not just affecting the business and the employee's co-workers, but may affect the employee's career.
·         Be sensitive to the fact that different cultures have different norms and standards for appearance, bathing, and dress and differences in cooking and eating traditions, too.

These type of situation are often uncomfortable for you and the offending employee, but these situations must be dealt with quickly and in a professional manner. Ensure that any incoming employees are aware of your odor policy. If you do not have an odor policy in place, put one together and make it official.

Offensive odor in the workplace is a serious issue that will impact your employee’s productivity, health, and the culture of your workplace as well.

For any assistance in this or other matters relating to HR, HIPAA, OSHA, or Medicare please contact us at or view our web site at

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Avoid Legal Trouble By Documenting Your I9's Correctly

Maintaining I-9s: Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t get sloppy with your I-9 employment eligibility verification forms.
This year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will initiate a great deal of
paperwork audits looking at I-9s. USCIS also increasingly brings cases against employers under the criminal code, rather than civil penalties. It made more than 900 criminal arrests last year, up from 72 arrests five years ago.

Penalties: Poor documentation can cost you $1000 per worker, and knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant can result in a $10,000-per-worker fine.

To sidestep potential legal trouble and discrimination complaints, follow these ten I-9 do’s and don’ts:
1. Do require all new hires to complete and sign Section 1 on their first day of work.
2. Don’t ask an applicant to complete an I-9 prior to making a job offer. Unhired applicants
can use I-9 information to allege that you discriminated against them.
3. Do review employee documents to make sure they’re on the new version of the I-9’s list of
acceptable documents and that they appear genuine. (See the new I-9 on our web site at on the “Updates/News” link.)
4. Don’t ask new hires for any particular documents or for more documents than the I-9
requires. The employee chooses the documents, not you.
5. Do establish a consistent procedure for completing I-9s, and educate your hiring managers on the procedure.
6. Don’t consider the expiration date of I-9 documentation when making hiring or firing
7. Do make and retain copies of all I-9 documents provided. (Only a few states make this
mandatory, but it’s a good idea.)
8. Don’t forget to keep a tickler file to follow up on expiring documents that limit the
employee’s authorization to work. You don’t have to re-verify identity documents, such as a
driver’s license.
9. Do keep I-9s and copies of documents for three years after the employee’s hire date or one
year after his or her termination, whichever comes first.
10. Don’t put the I-9 in an employee’s personnel file. To protect against discrimination claims,
keep it and supporting documentation in a separate file. 

HIPAA Violations and Social Networking

Social Networking Is Putting Your Practice at Risk

Many healthcare organizations are using social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) as a means of connected with their client base, or as a means of advertising their services. Whether your practice is using these social networks or not, you
can reasonably assume that your employees are using these sites to expand their own personal social network. This can present a huge problem! 

Employees who frequently use these sites as a way of sharing the events of their personal lives are very likely to discuss work on-line as well. Social network sites create a huge risk for HIPAA violations, and also for employee relation problems.

HIPAA violations occurring on these popular social media sites demand employers establish guidelines for social network use. Because healthcare workers normally access them on personal time away from work, employers should discuss the importance of these guidelines.

Employers should generally prohibit employees from including any information about patients on their social network pages, even if patients have given them permission to do so. It is also recommended that you prohibit your employees from linking to a patient’s social network page. We encourage you to prohibit your employees from accessing these social networking pages while at work using your office computer.

Individuals are free to disclose any information they choose on their social network pages, including their own personal PHI. However, you should be sensitive about your employees linking to these pages at work because of the appearance of impropriety and the distinct possibility of a HIPAA violation. Employers cannot control their employee’s lives and social media activity, EXCEPT as it relates to work.