MSSNY eNews: October 7, 2020 – Gov. Signs Legislation to Require OPMC Signs in Physician Offices


Notes from Governor Cuomo’s Conference Call:

– Day 221
– 108,000 tests conducted yesterday
– 5.1% infection rate in hotspots
– Statewide infection rate at 1.05%
– Statewide rate with hotspots 1.25%
– 8 fatalities
– 748 hospitalizations, up 43 from day before
– Gov. stated increase in hospitalizations are in clusters
– 176 ICU patients
– 72 intubations

Infection Rate by Region:
-Capital Region: 0.9%
– Central NY – 0.9%
– Finger Lakes – 0.5%
– Long Island – 1.2%
– Mid Hudson – 2%
– Mohawk Valley 0.4%
– North Country 0.1%
– NYC 1.5%
– Southern Tier 1.4%
– Western NY – 0.9%  “good for western NY”
– Orange County – 3.9%
– Rockland County – 4.5%
– Broome – 6.1%
– Brooklyn – 2.2%

– Gov. reiterated COVID data on schools available on dashboard
– Focus is on hotspots – infection rate is five times statewide rate
– Gov. said state will continue to enforce cluster initiative announced
– Gov. noted some communities are unhappy, but non-compliance
caused current restrictions
– Gov. questioned President’s comments on refusing to discuss stimulus
until after election

– Gov. stated case data by address are being used to determine clusters
and restrictions, restrictions are not targeted at any one community
– Gov. emphasized the importance of putting public health first

-On whether state will work with NYC to enforce compliance, Gov. said current clusters are a result of lack of enforcement, local governments need to improve.

Today’s MSSNY Statement in Response to Governor Signing Legislation to Require OPMC Signs in Physician Offices
Despite strong MSSNY opposition, this afternoon the Governor signed into law legislation requiring every physician’s “practice setting” to post a conspicuous sign identifying for patients the OPMC’s website. MSSNY has requested its legal counsel to determine if there is anything that is illegal about such a requirement. MSSNY has also reached out to the DOH to identify the timeframe for compliance.

MSSNY President Dr. Litvack’s Press Statement:

“As we stated repeatedly when this bill was being considered by the Legislature, MSSNY has no objection to expanding public awareness for how patients can file complaints about a particular physician with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC).  The OPMC provides an essential patient safety oversight function that helps to protect the public by removing aberrant practitioners.

“However, we are very concerned with the distrust and unnecessary anxiety that will be created by a mandate that every physician post a readily noticeable sign in their office or other practice setting regarding how patients can report a physician to the disciplinary Board.

“We believe this law unfairly singles out physicians – as opposed to any type of health care provider or other professional – for this signage requirement.  With already ample information available through a basic internet search regarding how a patient can file a complaint to the OPMC about a particular physician, this requirement is unnecessary.

“Many physicians have expressed frustration that this signage requirement is symbolic of the confounding lack of appreciation for the countless patient lives saved and improved every day by physicians across this state.  It was only a few short months ago that physicians were regularly lauded as heroes for their efforts in responding to the pandemic.

“Legislation such as this will only serve to discourage more physicians from wanting to practice in the State of New York, threatening patient access to needed specialized care.  Indeed, New York already loses the vast majority of resident physicians it pays to train.  We urge our policymakers to focus on measures to maintain and increase physician supply rather than measures that will drive them away.”

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State Health, Education Departments Strike Deal to Share COVID-19 School Data
The New York State Education Department has agreed to share some information on students and staff tested in-state for COVID-19 with the state health agency, according to a new data sharing agreement. The agreement, shared with, marks the first of its kind between the two agencies since the coronavirus pandemic struck New York. The deal is intended to bolster COVID-19 reporting on schools by verifying that a student or staff member is indeed associated with a particular institution, according to the agreement. The education department — which has some more independence from Gov. Andrew Cuomo than the state health agency — agreed to provide some identifiable details on those tested for the virus in the state.

The education department will provide names, birthdays, and BEDS codes to identify schools of students and staff members tested for COVID-19, in the hopes of strengthening reporting on positive results. The details are intended to verify that a child attends or a person is employed within a certain school or school district. Staff members will also be described as a “teacher” or “non-teacher” by the education department, the agreement says. Those granular details will not be made publicly available, but will be used to report the number of positive cases at a school or school district through the state’s COVID-19 dashboard for schools.

School-related information, once confirmed, will be relayed to local health departments to aid contact tracing efforts, the deal says. A spokesperson for SED did not immediately provide details on when schools were notified. The agreement was signed by Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker on Oct. 2 and Interim Education Commissioner Betty Rosa on Oct. 3.

Zucker asked SED for details on those tested in New York, “including personally identifiable information,” to carry out a school COVID-19 reporting mandate under an executive order issued by Cuomo, according to the document. Schools are required under the order to report Covid-19 testing and results to the health agency on a daily basis. DOH has pledged to only use the information to verify that a student attends or an employee works at a particular school or school district, the deal shows. (Politico, Oct. 7).

82% of Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients Had Neurologic Symptoms
More than 80% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had neurologic symptoms during their disease course, a retrospective Chicago-area study showed.

Neurologic manifestations were present at COVID-19 onset in 42.2% of 509 consecutive hospitalized COVID-19 patients, at hospitalization in 62.7%, and at any time during the disease course in 82.3%, reported Igor Koralnik, MD, of Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Myalgia (44.8%), headache (37.7%), encephalopathy (31.8%), and dizziness (29.7%) were the most frequent neurologic manifestations, followed by dysgeusia (15.9%) and anosmia (11.4%). Patients presenting with neurologic symptoms were younger than those who did not have symptoms. Most patients with neurologic manifestations had a favorable functional outcome at discharge, but encephalopathy — which affected nearly one in three patients — was associated with increased morbidity and mortality, independent of respiratory disease severity.

“This is the first study in the U.S. of the prevalence of neuro manifestations in a large population of hospitalized patients,” Koralnik told MedPage Today. Only two other papers describing the prevalence of neurological manifestations in hospitalized COVID-19 patients have been published: one based in China, the other in Spain. Neurological complications of COVID-19 are frequent and in many cases long-lasting, but have not yet received much attention, noted Avindra Nath, MD, senior investigator of nervous systems infections at the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who wasn’t involved with the study.

The study’s retrospective nature may mean the frequency of neurologic manifestations is underreported, he pointed out. In their study, Koralnik and colleagues retrospectively analyzed the first 509 consecutive patients admitted with COVID‐19 to the Northwestern Medicine Healthcare system between March 5 and April 6. The Northwestern Medicine system consists of one academic medical center and nine other hospitals in the Chicago area. (MedPage, October 6)

How Many Hours Can Coronavirus Survive on Your Skin? Nine Hours
A Japanese study, which was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on Oct. 3, set out to determine how long the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) could survive on different surfaces such as stainless steel, glass, plastic, and human skin compared to a common strain of the flu, influenza A virus. The researchers found that the novel coronavirus remains active for longer on all surfaces, including human skin. In comparison to the more than nine hours COVID can live on your epidermis, the flu virus only survives for 1.8 hours. Even on non-human surfaces, the results also showed that the coronavirus lasted much longer than the flu, surviving for about an average of 11 hours to the flu’s much shorter span of just over an hour and a half. (KHN 10/5)

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Surgical Face Masks Do Not Cause Buildup of Carbon Dioxide or Restrict Oxygen
A new study reiterates that surgical face masks don’t cause a buildup of carbon dioxide or restrict oxygen, despite opposing claims.” The study was published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, and “was conducted after a group of Florida residents challenged Florida’s mask-wearing mandate in June, arguing that wearing the protective face coverings could result in the buildup of too much carbon dioxide.”

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