Dental Law

Dentists Smiling as $80 Million Settlement Reached in Dental Supply Price-Fixing Class Action Suit

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On August 30, 2018, after two years of litigation, a group of dentists tentatively reached an $80 million settlement in a proposed class action accusing the country’s biggest dental supply companies of colluding to fix prices. The three dominant distributors, Henry Schein Inc., Patterson Cos. Inc. and Benco Dental Supply Co. Inc., allegedly artificially inflated prices on crowns, numbing agents, X-ray accessories and other products.

Artificially Inflating Prices.

In 2016, the three distributors were accused of artificially inflating prices on various dental supplies and equipment. Products at issue included supplies such as adhesives, implants, tooth brushes, pins and posts all the way to equipment such as imaging devices and dental chairs. Although there are hundreds of distributors and manufacturers of dental supplies and equipment, the defendants controlled approximately 80% of the market share. Click here to read my prior blog on this case and learn more.

The $80 million settlement comes roughly 30 months after the dentists first launched their lawsuits against the manufacturers. To learn more, click here to view the consolidated class action complaint  and the order in full.

Collusion?

In response to the suit, the three distributors accused the group of dentists of inaccurately portraying isolated actions as a nationwide conspiracy. However, a New York federal judge found reason to believe the distributors colluded to strong-arm lower cost rivals and boycott trade groups that worked with a newer distributor called SourceOne Dental Inc.

Despite reaching the settlement, the distributors deny any wrongdoing even though the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also filed an administrative complaint against them in February 2018. In the complaint, the FTC accused the nation’s three largest dental supply companies of conspiring to refuse to provide discounts to buying groups representing small dental practitioners in violation of antitrust laws. To view the FTC’s press release, click here. Click here to view the FTC’s complaint.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals.

The Health Law Firm has attorneys who practice in the area of antitrust law and trade regulation. We have defended a hospital in federal court against allegations of violations of the antitrust laws, we routinely provide advice and opinion letters on antitrust and trade regulation matters, we have represented plaintiffs in law suits alleging anticompetitive behavior and violations of state and federal antitrust laws, we have given opinions on and been involved in litigation concerning the Lanham Act and the Robinson-Patman Amendments, and we routinely undertake litigation concerning restrictive covenants.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide advice and representation concerning antitrust law, trade regulation, restraint of trade issues, and regarding deceptive and unfair trade practices. We routinely provide advice and analysis of proposed business ventures that include the foregoing. We have represented both plaintiffs and defendants in state court litigation and in federal court litigation in such matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Overley, Jeff. “Dentists Get $80M From Supply Cos. To End Collusion Case.” Law360. (August 30, 2018). Web.

“Dentists Get $80M From Supply Cos. To End Collusion Case.” InfoTech Consulting. (September 5, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: dental class action suit, complex healthcare litigation attorneys, legal representation for antitrust violations, representation for antitrust investigations, complex medical litigation lawyer, representation for complex litigation, representation for healthcare business litigation matters, employment contract representation, representation for physician dentist employment contract, healthcare contract review attorney, restraint of trade legal representation, representation for Board of Dentistry matters, Board of Dentistry representation, dentist lawyer,  attorney for dentists, Board of Dental Examiners legal counsel, representation for Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigations, dental law defense lawyer, representation for dental law, representation for health care professionals, representation for dental clinics, health law defense lawyer, health defense attorney, legal representation for dentists, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm Attorneys, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, board of dentistry defense attorney, dental board defense legal counsel, representation for dentists, dentist defense lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

NYC Doctor Gets Prison Term for Posing as Clinic Owner in $30 Million Fraud Scheme

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On August 22, 2018, a doctor received a sentence of one year and a day in prison from a New York federal court for his part in a $30 million scheme to defraud Medicare and the state Medicaid program. The doctor admitted to posing as the owner of a medical clinic and falsely claiming to have seen hundreds of patients. He pled guilty on January 11, 2018, to health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Lies and Cover-ups.

The New York City doctor accepted responsibility for falsely posing as the owner of two medical clinics that were actually owned by a corrupt businessman, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Under New York state law, medical clinics must be owned and operated by a medical professional. The businessman was able to evade the requirements of the law by hiring doctors to pose as the owners of each clinic.

The corrupt businessman owned and operated six medical clinics in Brooklyn between 2007 and 2013 that fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid. Approximately $30 million was billed for services and supplies that were not provided, according to the indictment and other documents filed in federal court, as well as statements made during the doctor’s plea proceeding and sentencing.

Additionally, the doctor fabricated false medical records to support the fraudulent reimbursement claims and wrote prescriptions and referrals for medically unnecessary tests and supplies, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The Punishment.

U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield sentenced the doctor to three years of supervised release in addition to the prison term for his role in the scheme. He was also ordered to pay restitution of approximately $1.83 million and to forfeit $269,412 in unlawful gains. The three other defendants involved in this case, a doctor, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist, are scheduled to go to trial at a later date. Click here to learn more.

“The Medicare and Medicaid programs are intended to provide essential medical services to the elderly and the needy, not to enrich corrupt doctors and other fraudsters,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that those who cheat Medicare and Medicaid, including physicians who abuse their licenses and professional oaths, will be held accountable.” You can view the U.S. Attorney’s press release here.

To read about a similar case of fraud, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

This is a Dangerous Pitfall of Which all Doctors and Dentists Must Be Aware.

This is the type of situation we often see in which a doctor or dentist is victimized by dishonest and corrupt scofflaws, especially here in Florida. Most often an older physician who is retired or semi-retired is asked to become the “medical director” or “dental director” of a clinic that is owned in whole or in part by someone else. The physician may not even know who its true owners are. Later the physician or dentist is asked to serve as the “president” or as a “director” of the company and his/her name is placed on all the corporate papers. The trouble really begins, however, when the true owner(s) places the physician’s or dentist’s name on corporate papers and licensing papers as an “owner,” “shareholder” or “member” of the business, when the physician has paid nothing for the business and is not truly the owner.

If a physician or dentist becomes aware of such a scheme and gets out of it as soon as she or her finds out, the physician or dentist may be able to avoid prosecution or liability. However, if the physician or dentist continues to do business with the true owners as an “owner on paper,” “shell owner,” or “sham owner,” (they all mean the same thing, “fraudulent owner”) then he or she can be in for some serious civil and criminal liability.

There can be serious criminal penalties, such as the one reported on in this blog. For example, in Florida, it is a felony for a non-dentist (meaning a dentist not licensed in Florida) to own or control a dental clinic in Florida. It is also a criminal offense for a layperson (or a business entity owned by lay persons), to own or control a medical clinic, unless it goes through the strict health care clinic license requirements that Florida law requires. If the clinic is owned or operated illegally (even if it’s “just on paper”), then all of the bills it issue are also illegal.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Cases.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers, home health agencies, nursing homes and other healthcare providers in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits and recovery actions. They also represent them in preparing and submitting corrective action plans (CAPs), requests for reconsideration, and appeal hearings, including Medicare administrative hearings before an administrative law judge.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hanson, Joyce. “Doc Gets Year In Prison For Role In $30M Medicare Fraud.” Law360. (August 22, 2018). Web.

“NYC Doctor Gets Prison Term for Role in $30M Fraud Scam.” Bloomberg Law. (August 22, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Medicare and Medicaid fraud representation, false claims attorney, false claims representation, representation for overbilling, representation for DOJ investigations, fraud defense attorney, representation for medicare issues, representation for Medicaid issues, Medicare lawyer, Medicaid lawyer, health care fraud investigation representation, health care fraud defense representation, Medicare fraud representation, health care professional representation, representation for physicians, representation for physician reimbursement, licensure defense attorney, professional license representation, licensure defense representation, representation for health care professionals, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Florida health law defense lawyer, owner on paper, shell owner, or sham owner, paper owner, Florida dental clinic ownership, health care clinic license

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Florida Medicaid Audits Dental Claims

MLS02PJGBy Michael L. Smith, R.R.T., J.D., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is auditing Medicaid claims submitted by dental providers in Florida. AHCA is auditing dental practices looking for claims that were not billed in compliance with the Florida Medicaid Dental Services Coverage and Limitations Handbook. AHCA’s audits are focused on claims that are billed too frequently, claims that are billed on the same date of service as a redundant code, and claims that have been unbundled when they should have been billed as part of a comprehensive code.

Specific Dental Codes Being Audited.

Dental providers that are the subject of these audits may not learn of the audit until they receive the Preliminary Audit Report. It is extremely important to immediately retain experienced health care counsel if you receive a Preliminary Audit Report so that a timely rebuttal with additional documents can be submitted. The audits are performed by the AHCA based entirely on the claims submitted by the provider.

Some of the specific procedure codes included in the audits are:

– D0120,
– D0272,
– D1110,
– D1120,
– D1203,
– D1330,
– D0150,
– D0210,
– D0330,
– D4355, and
– D4341.

Take Preliminary Audit Reports Seriously.

Every dental provider that receives a Preliminary Audit Report from AHCA has a limited time to respond to the audit. AHCA may also impose sanctions and assess costs against dental providers in these audits. Any dental provider that receives notice of an audit by the Agency should contact legal counsel experienced in these matters without delay.

Click here for a previous blog on tips for responding to an AHCA audit.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Board of Dentistry and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

Our firm also routinely represents physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, home health care agencies, nursing homes and other health care providers in AHCA investigations, audits and recovery actions, as well as Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits and recovery actions.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Have you ever received a Preliminary Audit Report from the AHCA? Did you know how to respond? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

About the Author: Michael L. Smith, R.R.T., J.D., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2014 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Board of Dentistry Proposes Change to Minimum Record Keeping Requirements for Dentists

DPP_1By Christopher E. Brown, J.D., The Health Law Firm

On August 22, 2014, the Florida Board of Dentistry will meet to discuss implementing new requirements for record keeping. We believe that these changes are due to the Board’s concern over potential ambiguity with the current regulations, and due to the recent difficulty it had in disciplining Florida dentists for record keeping violations.

Read on for an outline of the proposed new requirements. Be sure to check this blog regularly. We will have a firm representative at this meeting and will post any updates.

Current Florida Rule.

Rule 64B5-17.002, Florida Administrative Code, provides the minimum record keeping requirements placed on Florida’s dentists. Currently, the rule requires a dentist to record the following information:

(a) Appropriate medical history;
(b) Results of clinical examination and tests conducted, including the identification, or lack thereof, of any oral pathology or diseases;
(c) Any radiographs used for the diagnosis or treatment of the patient;
(d) Treatment plan proposed by the dentist; and
(e) Treatment rendered to the patient.

Outline of Proposed New Requirements.

The proposed rule change will amend the Rule 64B5-17.002, Florida Administrative Code, as follows:

(a) Appropriate medical history, including any current or previous medical conditions, surgeries, hospitalizations, medications, and legible blood pressure readings (when taken). The updating and review of the medical history must also be documented.
(b) Results of clinical examinations and tests conducted, including the identification, or lack thereof, of any oral pathology or diseases.
(c) Any radiographs to include Cone Beam Computer Tomography (CBCT), and the results used for the diagnosis or treatment of the patient.
(d) Treatment plan and treatment options proposed by the dentist.
(e) Treatment rendered to the patient, including but not limited to the following, when applicable to the treatment performed:

(i) Type, amount, and mode of delivery (i.e., Mandibular block, Infiltration, etc.) of local anesthesia used;
(ii) Type and shade of restorative material used;
(iii) Preoperative and/or postoperative medications prescribed;
(iv) Medications delivered, administered, or provided to the patient during treatment or for use following treatment;
(v) Radiographs taken;
(vi) Impression material and type of impression taken (i.e., maxillary, mandibular, interocclusal, digital, etc.);
(vii) Medicaments, medications, sutures, irrigants, or bases applied to teeth or   periodontal tissues;
(viii) Names or initials of all staff involved with clinical care of the patient;
(ix) Use of dental barrier or rubber dam;
(x) Tooth or arch treated identified by name, number or letter;
(xi) Working length, canals treated, identify untreated canals and reason left untreated,  master apical file size, and obturation materials used during endodontic procedures; and
(xii) Unusual or unexpected events or reactions during or after the procedure including, but not limited to separation, breakage, retention, swallowing or aspiration, of any  instrument or portion thereof.

In addition to the above changes, the Board is also seeking a number of other amendments to the rule, including additional requirements for record alterations and duties of dentists of record.

The complete proposed rule change can be found at: http://bit.ly/1vr4Cxw

Comments?

Did you know about these proposed changes? If imposed, how will the changes affect you? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Consult With An Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Dentists.

We routinely provide deposition coverage to dentists, dental hygienists and other health professionals being deposed in criminal cases, negligence cases, civil cases or disciplinary cases involving other health professionals.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing dentists and dental hygienists and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of Dentistry hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: Christopher E. Brown, J.D., is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2014 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Preparing for an Informal Hearing Before the Florida Board of Dentistry

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M. Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

If you are scheduled to appear for an informal hearing before the Florida Board of Dentistry, there are a number of facts that you will want to know in order to be properly prepared.  This article will cover many of them.

Limited Circumstances for Informal Administrative Hearing.

First, you should understand that you will only be at an informal hearing in which you appear before the Board of Denstistry itself for a very limited number of reasons.  These will include the following:

1.  If you completed an election of rights (EOR) form and agreed that you did not intend to dispute any material facts alleged against you from the administrative complaint (AC) in the case.

2.  If you entered into a settlement agreement (or “stipulation”) (similar to a plea bargain in a criminal case) in which you agreed to accept discipline against your license.

3.  You failed to submit any election of rights (EOR) form and failed to file a petition for a formal hearing in a timely manner, and, therefore, you have waived your right to a formal hearing.

There are a few other circumstances in which there may be an informal hearing before the Board, such as motions to modify a final order, motion to lift a suspension of a license, appearance in accordance with an earlier order, petition for a declaratory statement, or other administrative matters.  This article only discusses those directly relating to disciplinary action as indicated above.

What an Informal Administrative Hearing Is Not.

1.  An informal administrative hearing is not an opportunity for you to tell your side of the story.  You have agreed that there are no disputed material facts in the case or you would not be at an informal hearing.

2.  An informal administrative hearing is not an opportunity for you to prove that you are innocent of the charges.  You have agreed that there are no disputed material facts in the case or you would not be at an informal hearing.

3.  An informal administrative hearing is not an opportunity for you to introduce documents or evidence to show that someone else committed the offenses charged and you did not.  You have agreed that there are no disputed material facts in the case or you would not be at an informal hearing.

4.  An informal administrative hearing is not an opportunity for you to argue that you should not be in the board’s impaired practitioners program (either the Professionals Resource Network (PRN) or the intervention Project for Nurses (IPN)) because you have completed a different program or that you do not have a problem.  These are the only programs recognized and used and you have agreed that there are no disputed material facts in the case or you would not be at an informal hearing.

Formal Administrative Hearing vs. Informal Hearing.

If you desire to contest the facts alleged against you then you must state this in writing.  If the material facts in a case are challenged by you, then the Board or the Department of Health (DOH) (note:  all professional boards are under the Department of Health in Florida) must forward your case to the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) where a neutral, objective administrative law judge (ALJ) will be appointed to hold a formal hearing in your case.  This is the only way that exists for you to prove that the facts alleged against you are incorrect or that you are not guilty of the charges made against you.  In fact, you do not even have to do anything in such a case.  The Department of Health has the burden of proof and it has to prove the charges against you and the material facts alleged against you by clear and convincing evidence.  Often, it is unable to do this at a formal administrative hearing.

However, because of the technicalities of evidentiary law and administrative law, we do not recommend that a nonlawyer attempt to represent himself or herself at such hearings.  You can make technical mistakes (such as answering requests for admissions incorrectly) that severely compromise any defense you may have.  We recommend that you always retain the services of an experienced health lawyer in any such matter.

What to Do If You Find That You Are at an Informal Hearing and That You Do Desire to Contest the Material Facts of the Case (And Your Guilt or Innocence).

If you have been scheduled for an informal administrative hearing and you decide that you do desire to challenge the material facts alleged against you in the administrative complaint (AC), file a written objection to proceeding at the informal hearing.  State that you have discovered that there are material facts that you do desire to challenge and that you desire that the proceedings be converted to a formal hearing.  File this with the Clerk of the administrative agency you are before (usually the department of health or the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and also send a copy to the opposing attorney and the executive director of the Board.  Do this as early as possible and keep proof that you have actually and filed the written request.

If you are already at the informal hearing when you discover this, object to the proceedings on the record and ask to have the informal hearing be converted to a formal hearing where you may contest the material facts.  State this as many times as reasonably possible.

Preparing for an Informal Hearing.

Since you are not contesting the facts alleged against you, if you are going to an informal hearing be sure you do the following:

1.  Be sure you know where the hearing is going to be held.  Try to stay the night before in the same hotel as the hearing will be held.  You will usually have to make these reservations early in order to get a room.

2.  Attend a Board meeting that occurs before the one at which your case is scheduled.  This will give you a feeling for the procedures that will be followed, will help to make you less nervous when you appear, and you can obtain continuing education units for doing so (be sure to sign in and sign out).  Be sure to attend one of the days when the disciplinary hearings are held.

3.  Dress professionally for the appearance.  This may be the most important event in your professional career.  For men, this means a suit and tie or, at least, a dark coat, dark slacks and a necktie.  For women, a professional business suit or the equivalent is in order.  Do not dress as if you are going to the park, the beach or out on a date.  Do not wear sexually provocative or revealing clothing.

4.  Check the agenda that is published on line a day or two before the scheduled hearing to make sure that your case is still scheduled for the date and time on the hearing notice.  Informal hearings may be moved around on the schedule.  Make sure you are there at the earliest time on the hearing notice or agenda.

5.  Listen to questions asked of you by Board members and attempt to answer them directly and succinctly.  You will be placed under oath for the proceeding and there will be a court reporter present as well as audio recording devices to take everything down.

6.  Do not argue with the Board members or lose your temper.  This is not the time or place to let this happen.  If you have such tendencies, then you should have an attorney there with you who can intercept some of the questions and can make defensive arguments (to the extent that they may be permitted) for you.

7.  You may introduce documents and evidence in mitigation.  However, you have agreed that the material facts alleged are true, so you may not contest these.  In effect, you have plead guilty and you are just arguing about how much punishment (discipline) and what kind of punishment you should receive.

8.  If you do intend to introduce documents and evidence in mitigation, be sure you know what the mitigating factors are (these are published in a separate board rule in the Florida Administrative Code for each professional board).  These may include, for example, the fact that there was no patient harm, that there was no monetary loss, that restitution has been made, the length of time the professional has been practicing, the absence of any prior discipline, etc.  You should submit these far ahead of time with a notice of filing, so that they are sent out to the board members with the other materials in your file.  This is another reason to have experienced counsel represent you at the informal hearing.

9.  Be prepared to take responsibility for your actions.  If you are not prepared to take responsibility, then this means you must believe you are innocent and you should be at a formal hearing, not an informal one.

10.  Be prepared to explain what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what remedial measures you have taken to prevent a recurrence of this type of event in the future.  Show that you have learned from this experience and that you are not going to make the same mistake again.

11.  It is our advice to always retain the services of an experienced attorney to represent you at such hearings.  Often your professional liability insurance will cover this.  If you have professional liability insurance, be sure that it contains a rider or addendum that provides coverage for professional license defense matters and administrative hearings.  You need at least $25,000 to $50,000 in coverage for this type of defense.  If necessary, you should contact your insurer or insurance agent and have the limits increased for a small additional premium.

Other Little Known Facts to Remember.

Professional licensing matters are considered to be “penal” or “quasi-criminal” in nature.  Therefore, you have your Fifth Amendment rights in relation to being required to give evidence against yourself.  You cannot be compelled to do this in such matters.  However, since it is an administrative proceeding and not a criminal proceeding, there is no requirement that the licensee be advised of this by a DOH investigator or attorney.

If you enter into a settlement agreement and attend the informal hearing to approve it, nothing you say or testify to at this hearing can later be used against you.  This is because you are involved in an attempt to negotiate and settle (or compromise) the claims being made against you.  It is a general rule of law that nothing the parties say in such settlement proceedings can later be used as evidence if the settlement agreement is not approved.  The law tries to promote settlements among parties to any dispute in this way.

It is true that on occasion the Board will examine a case on an informal hearing and will decide to dismiss it.  This is rare, but it does happen.  Sometimes, it will be a tactical decision on the part of you and your attorney to elect to go to an informal hearing with the hope that the Board may examine the case and decide to dismiss it.  However, you cannot count on this happening.

Don’t Wait Too Late;  Consult with an Experienced Health Law Attorney Early.

Do not wait until action has been taken against you to consult with an experienced attorney in these matters.  Few cases are won on appeal.  It is much easier to win your case when there is proper time to prepare and you have requested a formal hearing so that you may actually dispute the facts being alleged against you.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing dentists and dental hygienists  in investigations and at Board of Dentistry hearings.  Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Administrative Final Orders Must State Findings of Fact Based on the Evidence Presented

Attorney George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Health Law

Following is a summary of a recent appellate case on an issue relevant to health law:

Borges v. Dep’t of Health, 143 So. 3d 1185 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014).
Gustavo Borges (Borges) appealed a final order of the Florida Board of Dentistry that revoked his license to practice dentistry based on a conviction of the knowing receipt of child pornography under a federal statute.

At hearing, eight lay witnesses and four expert witnesses testified. In the recommended order’s discussion of the evidence presented, which was the basis for the Board’s final order, the administrative law judge (ALJ) discussed the testimony of only one witness-Borges-after concluding that a statement by Borges constituted a concession that established that his conviction was related to his ability to practice dentistry. No other testimony was discussed in the order, or even acknowledged.

On appeal, the appellate court concluded that the ALJ’s recommended order adopted by the Board did not comply with one of the requirements of section 120.57, Florida Statutes-that an ALJ’s order must contain “express findings of fact.” The court was quick to point out that, while the findings of fact did not have to address the testimony of every witness (i.e., all twelve here), the order must at least address the factual controversies at issue to the extent they are relevant to the disposition, or address why the testimony is irrelevant. Having failed to do so in this case, the appellate court reversed and remanded.

The case summary above was originally published in the Administrative Law Section Newsletter, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Dec. 2014), a publication of The Administrative Law Section of The Florida Bar.

Editor’s Comments on Case Summary.

This case demonstrates an important concept in administrative law. This is, an administrative law judge is required to discuss the evidence presented at the hearing and make specific findings of fact based on that evidence. Failing to do this in the recommended order (RO) can lead to reversal by an appellate court.


Comments?

Do you think the appellate court should have reversed? Do you think it was important to discuss all testimonies in this case? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Licensure Matters.

If you have been arrested, it is strongly recommended that you retain an experienced healthcare attorney who can advise you as to the effects a potential outcome could have on your license.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm routinely represent physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners in licensure matters. We frequently consult with criminal defense attorneys regarding defense strategies tailored to minimizing criminal sanctions while preserving the practitioner’s license.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


About the Author
: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Criminal law, license, defense attorney, health law, health care attorney, health care lawyer, health investigation, medical license, conviction, desntist, dentist criminal charges, Department of Health, DOH, professional license, federal statutes, license disciplined, license revoked, health attorney, finding of guilt, adjudication withheld, diversion program, DOH conviction, adjudication, discipline, criminal trial, defense lawyer, ALJ, administrative law judge, administrative law, appellate court, administrative orders, Florida Board of Dentistry, Board of Dentistry, dentistry, statutes, testimony

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2015 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Phony Dentist Charged with Child Abuse After Injuring Teen During Procedures

George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A Miami man, his wife and their daughter have been charged with child abuse following two alleged dental procedures that left a 14-year-old girl permanently disfigured. According to a number of sources, the three were arrested on September 12, 2012, at their home-operated dental office.

Click here to see the man’s arrest affidavit from the Miami Police Department.

14-Year-Old Patient Left in Pain and Disfigured.

According to the Miami Herald, when the 14-year-old girl broke a front tooth, she and her mother went to the man, who claimed to be a dentist when he lived in Cuba. He offered to perform the dental work in the back room of his home office for $500. Instead of fixing the tooth, the article states the man filed all four of the girl’s front teeth down to the gums. He then allegedly fit her with a permanent bridge, which the mother described as an “iron bridge painted white with the form of teeth.”

The victim was allegedly left with swollen and blackened gums, according to the Miami Herald. She is now under the care of a licensed dentist at the University of Miami.

To read the entire article from the Miami Herald, click here.

All Three Family Members Face Charges of Child Abuse.

The fake dentist and his wife, who apparently witnessed the procedures, face charges of child abuse, child negligence and performing dental services without a license. The couple’s daughter faces a charge of child negligence.

The license status of almost all health care professionals can easily be checked online. In Florida, license verification for all health care professionals can be checked on the Florida Department of Health (DOH) website. Hint: If they don’t have a license, they ain’t a legitimate health professional.

This case was investigated by the Miami Police Department, the DOH and a Miami-Dade County team that fights pharmaceutical crime. Detectives suspect more victims will soon come forward.

Miami Seems to Be a Hot Spot for Phony Health Care Professionals.

We have seen many reports on phony doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners and others practicing in the Miami area over the past decade. Many of these operate surreptitiously and prey on immigrants and foreign nationals. Others operate blatantly and publicly advertise.

Plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures appear to be the most likely area to be “practiced” by the imposters. We have seen or heard reports of physicians performing surgery in hotel rooms. We have read reports of walk-in plastic surgery offices where animal sedatives were used to sedate the patient and plastic knee replacements were used as breast implants.

More Stories on Fake Physicians and Other Health Professionals to Come.

In the near future on this blog, we will include additional articles on fake doctors and health professionals, some old, some new.

To see a recent blog on a Florida teen impersonating a physician’s assistant (PA), click here. You can also read the story of a fake plastic surgeon in New York by clicking here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Providers in DOH Cases.

The Health Law Firm represents dentists, pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies.

If you are aware of an investigation of you or your practice, or if you have been contacted by the DEA or DOH, contact an experienced health law attorney immediately.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Sanchez, Melissa. “Little Havana Man Accused of Injuring Girl with Illegal Dental Work.” Miami Herald. (September 12, 2012). From: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/12/2999610/little-havana-man-accused-of-injuring.html

CBS Miami. “Girl Leaves Dental Dungeon With Mangled Teeth; 3 Charged With Child Abuse.” CBS Miami. (September 12, 2012). From: http://miami.cbslocal.com/2012/09/12/girl-leaves-dental-clinic-with-disfigured-teeth-3-charged-with-child-abuse/

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Debary Dentist Served with Emergency Suspension Order for Allegedly Inhaling Laughing Gas

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A Debary, Florida, dentist has been served with an emergency suspension order (ESO) by the Florida Department of Health (DOH) for allegedly inhaling nitrous oxide or laughing gas in front of patients. The administrative complaint filed against the dentist on November 2, 2012, by the Florida DOH stated a department-approved evaluator deemed the dentist unfit to practice dentistry and was recommended to undergo residential treatment.

Click here to read the full administrative complaint against the dentist.

We want to point out that these are just allegations made against the dentist at this point in time and have not been proven by the state.

Dentist Allegedly Did Not Finish Rehabilitation.

In June 2012, the Florida DOH ordered the dentist to be treated for alcohol and inhalant dependence. However, while in rehabilitation, she allegedly failed drug tests for alcohol, opiates and hydrocodone. She was then later reportedly caught inhaling laughing gas again.

The dentist allegedly refused another treatment plan by writing on it that she was going to drink champagne on holidays and special occasions.

The Office May Still Be Open.

On November 27, 2012, WFTV in Orlando reported a woman that looked to be the suspended dentist drove up to the Debary office and posted a handwritten sign on the front door that read, “Office is open.”

To see the story from WFTV, click here.

The Florida DOH states that when a licensee is served with an ESO that person may not practice in Florida while his or her license is suspended. Click here to see the status of the dentist’s license from the DOH.

The Dentist’s Options – Formal Hearing or Hearing Before the Board of Dentistry.

The dentist may elect to have a formal hearing contesting the facts with the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). She also may waive this right and not dispute the facts and have an informal hearing before the Board of Dentistry. The Board will then make a final decision concerning the dentist’s license and her future working in dentistry. Be sure to check this blog for updates.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health Investigations of Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of this dentist’s story? Does she deserve another chance? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Walsh, Michael. “Dentist Gassing Up on Nitrous Oxide No Laughing Matter.” New York Daily News. (November 27, 2012). From: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/dentist-gassing-nitrous-oxide-laughing-matter-article-1.1209081?print

Barber, Tim. “Dentist Accused of Using Laughing Gas on Self While Working on Patients.” WFTV. (November 27, 2012). From: http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/dentist-accused-using-laughing-gas-while-operating/nTGJd/

Department of Health v. Sharon Ann Day-Osteen, D.D.S. Case Number 2012-13461. Administrative Complaint to the Board of Dentistry. (November 2, 2012). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/doh%20v%20Day-Osteen.pdf

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

More Than 7,000 Patients of Oklahoma Dentist Are Being Asked to Get Tested for HIV and Hepatitis

4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The unsanitary practices of an Oklahoma dentist may have exposed more than 7,000 patients to HIV and hepatitis, according to a number of media sources and the Oklahoma Department of Health (DOH). Currently officials with the Oklahoma DOH are contacting all of the dentist’s patients since 2007, and urging them to get tested for blood-borne diseases. Since the news broke on March 28, 2013, the dentist has voluntarily closed his two offices and surrendered his dental license for 30 days.

Click here to read a copy of the letter from Oklahoma DOH warning the dentist’s patients to get tested.

We want to point out that these are just allegations made against the dentist at this point in time and have not been proven by the state.

Dentist Accused of Being a “Menace to the Public” in Complaint.

According to the complaint filed with the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, the dentist is allegedly facing 17 allegations from The Board due to the violations against his practice.

Alleged charges against the dentist include:

1.  A patient testing positive for HIV and hepatitis C;

2.  The dental practice being unsafe, unsanitary and lacking of sterilization checks;

3.  Committing gross negligence related to decisions related to the dental health care of patients;

4.  Practicing dentistry without the proper display of licenses and certifications;

5.  Violation of provisions of the State Dental Practice Act by failing to keep a suitable record of dangerous drugs;

6.  Unlawful practices in authorizing dental assistants to practice dentistry; and

7.  Having open vials of medications and unsanitary dental materials in an unclean environment.

Click here to read the complaint.

Dentist Admitted to Not Handling Sterilization and Drugs Procedures.

According to the complaint, a device in the dentist’s office used to sterilize dental instruments wasn’t working properly. An inspector also found two separate sets of instruments. Each set was cleaned differently, one set of instruments was for patients known to have infectious diseases, and one set was for those not believed to have such diseases. Oklahoma DOH officials said the proper approach is for all instruments to be handled as if they contain viruses and infectious diseases.

According to an article in The New York Times, the dentist allegedly told officials during one inspection of his office that his staff handled all sterilization and drug procedures. Click here to read the entire article from The New York Times.

Dentist Faces Hearing at State Board of Dentistry.

According to the Oklahoma DOH, the dentist has been a state-licensed dentist since 1974, and an oral surgeon since 1977. He faces the possibility of having his license revoked, after a hearing on April 19, 2013, at the state Board of Dentistry in Oklahoma. This investigation is ongoing.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health Investigations of Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of this dentist’s story? Are you curious as to how the practice got so bad? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Oklahoma Board of Dentistry State of Oklahoma v. Wayne Scott Harrington, D.M.D. Case Number 13-005. Statement of Complaint. (March 28, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/OK%20Dentist%20Complaint.pdf

Ball, Brandi. “Tulsa County Dentist May Have Exposed 7,000 Patients to HIV, Hepatitis.” News on 6. (March 28, 2013). From: http://www.newson6.com/story/21820518/tulsa-county-dentist-may-have-exposed-patients-to-hiv-hepatitis

Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Tulsa Health Department, Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma Board of Dentistry Investigate Tulsa Dentist.” (March 28, 2013). From: http://bit.ly/ZwRhRT

Fernandez, Manny. “Tests Start for Patients of Dentist in Inquiry.” The New York Times. (March 29, 2013). From: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/health/dental-patients-in-oklahoma-warned-of-disease-risk.html

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Law Prohibits Control of a Dental Practice by a Nondentist

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Florida has long been a state that does not prohibit the corporate practice of medicine, unlike many other states. However, it does prohibit the corporate practice of dentistry.  The key provision in Florida law that establishes this is Section 466.028, Florida Statutes, but the Florida Board of Dentistry has also adopted administrative rules on this topic, as well.

What this means is that any corporation (or other type of business entity) that owns or operates a dental practice, under Florida law, must be one solely owned by and controlled by dentists. In this context, the term “dentists” means those licensed to practice dentistry in the state of Florida, with an active license.  Someone licensed in another state or who has a suspended or revoked license in Florida, would not meet that requirement.

Dentists Entering into Certain Types of Contracts Needs to Be Sure They Comply with the Law.

There may be certain types of contracts and agreements that a dentist or dental practice may legally enter into, especially ones that would provide administrative services or other types of non-professional services to the dentist.  These might include, for example, payroll services, staffing services (except for professional staff such as dental technicians), billing and collections services (provided the dentist retains final authority over such matters), marketing services, equipment leases (provided the dentists retains all control over the equipment), office leases, management services, or combinations of the above.  However, since any of these types of agreements may be worded so as to violate the law, a dentist should always have such an agreement reviewed in advance by his or her own experienced health attorney.  The dentist entering into any such contract must make sure he or she complies fully with the law.

Section 466.028(2), Florida Statutes, states that the purpose of the statute is to prevent any nondentists from attempting to influence or interfere with the professional judgment of the dentist.

Acts Prohibited by Law.

Acts specifically prohibited by the law include allowing a nondentist or business entity owned by a nondentist to:

1.    Employ a dentist or dental hygienist in the operation of a dental office;

2.    Control the use of any dental equipment or material while such equipment or material is being used for the provision of any dental services;

3.    Direct, control or interfere with a dentist’s clinical judgment;  and, specifically,

4.    Allowing any nondentist or organization owned by a nondentist to exercise control over:

a.    The selection of a course of treatment for a patient, the procedures or materials to be used as part of such course of treatment, and the manner in which such course of treatment is carried out by the dentist;

b.    The patient records of a dentist;

c.    Policies and decisions relating to pricing, credit, refunds, warranties and advertising; or

d.    Decisions relating to office personnel and hours of practice.

Violating Law is a Felony.

Any of these acts can result in disciplinary action against any licensed dental professional involved. More importantly, violation of this law is also a felony which may result in criminal prosecution for any person involved.  Contracts which violate the law are null and void.

Always have any contract relating to the operation of your dental practice reviewed by an experienced board certified health lawyer before signing it.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Board of Dentistry and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Did you know about this Florida Law that prohibits control of a dental practice by a nondentist? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.
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