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CHICAGO -- The University of Pennsylvania Health System and Arizona Physicians IPA have received this year's Excellence in Healthcare Risk Management Awards from Modern Healthcare magazine and MMI Cos. Inc.

The winners of the eighth annual awards were cited for crafting risk management programs that broadened the definition of health care risk while effectively addressing both clinical risk and economic impact.

UPHS was honored in the "hos-pitals/health care systems/integrated delivery systems" category for its health and disease management program, which focuses on an inpatient clinical pathway strategy and outpatient disease management programs.

Arizona Physicians IPA was honored in the health plan category for its Kids' Clothes Swap Meet, in which parents who bring children in for immunizations or well-child visits are given coupons that can be used toward clothing purchases at swap meets the IPA regularly sponsors.

Modern Healthcare is a sister publication of Business Insurance.

Comp pure premium to drop in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. -- The average rate that Oregon employers pay for workers compensation insurance will drop by 4.8% in 1999, the state's Department of Consumer and Business Services has announced.

Rate decreases will vary by industry, the department said.

At the same time, a workers comp premium assessment will remain unchanged at 7.3% for 1999. The assessment pays for the state's administration of the workers comp system and safety programs.

A "cents-per-hour" assessment will rise in 1999 to 4.2 cents from 3.2 cents for each hour worked by an employee covered under a workers comp policy.

The assessment is used to reimburse employers that return injured employees to work under modified duty. Its payment is split equally between employees and employers. The raise is due to legislation requiring an increase in fund reserves used to pay for benefits when revenues fluctuate.

London market insurers ordered to pay in cleanup

BATON ROUGE, La. -- London market underwriters must pay for the cleanup of polluted sites in Louisiana owned by Norfolk Southern Corp., a jury has found.

Last month, the judge overseeing the case also ordered that Louisiana law be applied to 30 sites owned by Norfolk Southern even though only three were located in that state, said Cory R. Cahn, a coverage attorney with the Slater Law Firm in New Orleans who represented the policyholder in the case.

"The jury found that every (comprehensive general liability) insurance policy issued by the London market defendants from 1969 to 1985 was triggered," he said.

The policies provide $800 million in coverage in successive layers above self-insured retentions ranging from $1 million between 1969 and 1972 and $3 million between 1985 and 1986, court papers say.

While the jury decided the coverage issue, the bad-faith portion of Norfolk Southern's lawsuit against the insurers is to be tried sometime later this year or early next year, Mr. Cahn added.

So far, the cleanup bill for the three Louisiana sites totals $157.5 million. Fifty other insurers involved in the coverage action settled before trial.

OSHA seeking input on preventing needlesticks

WASHINGTON -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking suggestions on how to better protect health care workers from injuries with contaminated needles.

OSHA is searching for information on the use of safer medical devices, such as substituting needles with other devices, modifying needles to reduce hazards, and incorporating safety features such as retractable-needle syringes designed to limit the risk of such injuries. It also requests strategies that have successfully eliminated or minimized the number of injuries related to contaminated needles and other sharp objects. Contaminated needles can spread the AIDS virus and other illnesses to health care workers.

Responses or comments should be submitted on 3.5-inch diskettes in WordPerfect. They should be postmarked on or before Dec. 8, 1998, and sent to the Docket Office, Docket No. H370A, Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments also may be submitted at OSHA's Web site: