Patients with chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus who rely on hydroxychloroquine continue to face obstacles obtaining their medication due to increased demand for the drug as a potential COVID-19 treatment. Despite studies casting doubt on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 (discussed more fully in another post), the drug remains in high demand for this off-label use. A recent study found a massive spike (nearly 2000%) in short-term fills for the prescription and a subsequent reduction in longer-term fills, which is consistent with decreased availability for patients taking the drug for chronic conditions.
A shortage of machines needed for large-scale processing of COVID-19 tests presents the latest bottleneck in ramping up testing capacity to better track cases and facilitate safe reopening. Three manufacturers (Hologic, Roche, and Abbott Laboratories) confirm that demand is outstripping supply for the machines. This is hampering large scale testing as shortages of other materials such as swabs and chemicals begin to resolve.
PPE, STAFF ADVOCACY & LIABILITY:
Strict enforcement of health care facilities’ social media policies against workers who speak out on PPE shortages or worker safety may create significant liability risks for the facilities. Widely reported PPE shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic have led a number of health care workers to speak out through social media and other venues about safety concerns, but some hospitals and other facilities have responded with disciplinary actions or even termination. Health care facilities often have strict social media policies for employees, in part to ensure compliance with obligations to protect patient privacy. However, in some cases strict enforcement of these policies could result in facility liability under federal or state labor laws and whistleblower protection laws, with claims brought either directly by disciplined employees or in some cases by federal or state agencies (e.g., OSHA). In addition to potential legal claims, facilities that act to stifle frontline health care workers’ speech in the current environment may risk additional scrutiny or harm to facility reputation.