Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Class offered in 2008
Class to begin  in September 14, 2009

PSU to offer class for health care pros

Beginning this fall Plymouth State University will be offering a online class for health care professionals aimed at gaining awareness of health care and its laws.

The university's College of Graduate Studies is introducing Health Care Law and Ethics as part of a four-course graduate certificate in health care administration. Constance Morrison, who will be teaching the class, said that the main emphasis will be to spread the knowledge of how the laws work and host a forum for people to express their thoughts.

The class is designed specifically for health care professionals. The course will be taught by Morrison, who is an attorney that also holds a doctorate in nursing practice, an MBA, and is a nurse practitioner and an attorney.

Morrison's background and expertise allows her to lead discussions in areas including the legal system in the United States; the impact of state and federal regulatory bodies on legal and ethical issues; tort law; contract and anti-trust issues; personal, managerial and corporate liability; managed care; nursing law; medical staff issues; issues of consent; information management and health care records; reporting requirements; organ donation and transplantation; patient rights; malpractice insurance; labor relations; employment law; and risk reduction.

The course will focus on the principles and theories of law and ethics in relation to health care delivery. It also touches upon law as it relates to health care management and administration, examination of the application of laws in relation to health care liability and risks facing administrators, managers and practitioners, and providing a foundation in analyzing ethical dilemmas.

"It is critical that all health care professionals have an intimate knowledge of the law as it relates to their profession," Morrison said. "In this day and age, I can't imagine working in this industry without it."

The class is being offered because the health care industry is one of the largest parts of the global economy, she said. In 2004, America's total health care bill came to $1.8 trillion which is about $6,400 per person, she said, and in 10 years, this amount is expected to rise to $11,000 per person annually.

While rising costs are among the top issues, others like new medical technologies, medicines and ethical dilemmas are constantly implemented in the health care industry. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine generated a report indicating that up to 98,000 deaths were caused annually in the United States by medical error, and that report raised awareness of a critical issue that had gone unnoticed for years.

Morrison said awareness is key in the field of health care. One issue she will touch on in her class will be when malpractice suits become criminal cases. She explained that every day there are more and more cases that would formerly be due to negligence that become criminal cases.

"The intent is to teach the class knowledge of what to do in various situations," said Morrison. "This includes rights, risks and benefits."

She will emphasize that medical work should be about keeping patients safe. She said people have to remember that doctors went to school to help humanity. Therefore, most of the time the standard of care is met, she said.

"I use a forward-looking approach with this course," Morrison said. "By including risk management strategies my colleagues will be better equipped to be proactive and anticipate potential issues in their workplace versus having to be reactive and dealing with matters that many times could have been avoided."

Morrison said she recently gave a presentation to nurse practitioners from N.H. regarding some of the subjects the class will cover. Following the presentation she conducted a survey asking if the participants thought the information was relevant to issues that had been presented, and asked if they had made changes to their practice due to what they had learned. The result was that 88 percent felt the information was vital and said they made changes in areas such as documentation and communication, among others.

Morrison added that the online format of the course creates an excellent student experience.

"I am able to communicate with students both collectively and individually in a way that enhances their experience," Morrison said. "The course content is self-contained so people will be equipped to apply these risk management principles upon completion of the course."

The course begins on Sept. 10. For additional information about the Health Care Administration program contact Craig Zamzow at 535-3020 or visit