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Nursing Student Claims Sexual Harassment, Retaliation in Lawsuit Filed Against UNC Greensboro

Attorney George F. Indest Headshot By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On November 29, 2019, a former University of North Carolina nursing student sued the school’s Greensboro campus, saying it improperly dismissed from her a program a month before graduation. She filed two separate suits. She claims she was forced to endure sexual harassment as a student for years. Then, when she accused a supervisor of misconduct, she was gradually pushed out of the nursing program, according to the lawsuit.

She is suing the University of North Carolina’s Greensboro nursing department in state court and UNC’s Board of Directors along with the Raleigh School of Nurse Anesthesia in federal court.

Lawsuit Describes Alleged Harassment, Retaliation.

According to the suit, the harassment began less than a year after she enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Program at UNCG in August 2015, with hopes of becoming a nurse anesthesiologist. She was put under the supervision of a male certified registered nurse anesthetist, or CRNA. In her suit, she alleges that her supervisor began acting inappropriately almost immediately.

When she reported the harassment in July 2016, that’s when the retaliation started, claims the lawsuit. “They started trying to find things,” she reportedly said. She claims that one supervisor told her “If I can’t get you for this, I can get you for something else.” A few months later, on October 31, 2016, she states she was given additional clinical work and reassigned to work with the same CRNA she had previously reported for harassment, according to court documents.

In June 2018, a month before she was to graduate, she was dismissed from the program for what the school said were unsafe nursing practices. She appealed and UNCG allowed her to re-enroll in January 2019 for a tuition of $10,000. However, a month later, she was dismissed again for unsafe nursing practices. UNCG then refused any further appeals and upheld her dismissal in May 2019.

The nursing student is seeking unspecified damages, including loss of income and repayment of tuition, according to the lawsuit.

To read one of my prior blogs on a similar case dealing with a harassment lawsuit at Rutgers University, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys Representing Medical Students, Residents and Fellows.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents medical students, residents, and fellows who run into difficulties and have disputes with their medical schools or programs. We also represent other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections, and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board-certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

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

Sources:

“Lawsuit describes harassment, retaliation at UNCG nursing school.” Greensboro News & Record. (December 3, 2019). Web.

Waggoner, Martha. “Lawsuit describes harassment, retaliation at Nursing School.” The Washington Post. (December 3, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law 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 Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“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 © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Compounding Pharmacy Reaches $21 Million Settlement to End FCA Kickback Suit

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On September 19, 2019, a Florida compounding pharmacy reached a $21.4 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the Southern District of Florida to resolve claims they orchestrated a $70 million kickback scheme. Diabetic Care Rx LLC, which does business as Patient Care America, and private equity firm Riordan Lewis & Haden Inc. agreed to pay to bring the False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit to a close.

According to the DOJ, the Florida pharmacy, two executives and the private equity firm schemed to recruit beneficiaries of Tricare for medically unnecessary prescriptions such as expensive pain creams.

Details of the Case.

The DOJ claimed PCA used marketers to help recruit beneficiaries of Tricare. They allegedly paid kickbacks to solicit medically unnecessary prescriptions for expensive compounded drugs that were filled by the pharmacy and then charged to Tricare.

As a result, the pharmacy allegedly billed Tricare about $68 million for compounded drugs over eight months in 2014 and 2015.
For more information, click here to read the press release issued by the DOJ.

The lawsuit resolved by the settlement was originally filed under the whistleblower (or “qui tam”) provisions of the False Claims Act by two former employees of PCA. To learn more about whistleblower or qui tam cases, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA, DOH and FDA investigations, qui tam and whistleblower cases, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections, and audits. The Firm also represents both plaintiffs (whistle blowers or relators) and defendants in False Claims Act (whistleblower or qui tam) cases. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

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

Sources:

Stawiki, Steve. “Pharmacy, PE Fund Ink $21M Deal To End FCA Kickback Suit.” Law360. (September 20, 2019). Web.

Bolado, Carolina. “Pharmacy, PE Fund Near Deal To End Feds’ FCA Kickback Suit.” Law360. (July 1, 2019). Web.

“Compounding Pharmacy, Two of Its Executives, and Private Equity Firm Agree to Pay $21.36 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations.” Florida Record. (September 24, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law 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 Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Thinking About Contacting the PRN or IPN Programs? Read This First!

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

Physicians, dentists, nurses, and other health professionals, accused of wrongdoing, may be referred to or receive recommendations from colleagues to refer themselves to the Professionals Resource Network (PRN) or the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN).  This is often done by someone who has little to no knowledge about these programs or what they require.  An individual who does this may find himself or herself in a situation that they rapidly come to regret.

Both programs have done some wonderful things. They have saved the lives and careers of many health professionals who have issues with drugs and alcohol, or who suffer from mental illnesses.  However, often a person may be accused of being an addict, alcoholic, serious substance abuser or having an uncontrolled mental illness when nothing is further from the truth.  Then these programs may not be right for that individual.

Often we find that a physician may be referred to PRN if he or she is suspected of excess drinking if alcohol is smelled on that person’s breath, if the physician is suspected of using drugs, or if he/she exhibits behavior that is now being labeled as “disruptive.”  To read a previous blog I have written about those accused of being “disruptive physicians,” click here.

Nurses are routinely instructed that they “must” report to IPN when there is some discrepancy in the narcotics count at a hospital or nursing home, someone makes an anonymous complaint (even a false one) about the nurse or the nurse is suspected (even wrongly) of diverting drugs.  We have found that some hospitals and nursing homes routinely do this to their nurses without any consideration of whether the person is innocent.

Many health professionals are advised by their colleagues that they should falsely claim they are alcoholics or addicts to get into PRN or IPN to avoid disciplinary action against their licenses.  For those afflicted with a serious substance abuse problem or a mental illness, this may be correct.  However, if it is not the case, this advice is egregiously wrong.

PRN and IPN Are Not the “Easy Way Out.”

These organizations may be lifesavers for those who actually need them but may seem like punishment to those who do not.  Either way, these programs are not the “easy way out” of legal problems.

For an example of one physician’s reported experiences with such a program, click here.

Although these articles are dated, we were recently contacted by a physician who disclosed a similar anecdote as reported in these articles.

If you are accused of wrongdoing, violating your practice act, or if you are threatened with being reported to the Department of Health (DOH) or your professional board, especially if you are being falsely accused, then it is much better to defend yourself and fight such charges instead of trying to “take the easy way out.”


Speak with an Attorney Immediately, at the Beginning and Prior to Making Any Decisions or Calls.

You should obtain information on the facts and alternatives immediately when accused and prior to making any such decision, calling anyone, or speaking with any investigator.  Contact our firm to speak with an attorney who can provide information to you on your options.

Click here to read my prior blog on impaired practitioner programs and learn more valuable information.

You Must Carry Insurance Which Covers the Legal Fees For Defending a Complaint Against Your License.

We always recommend that all health professionals carry insurance that covers their attorney’s fees and their legal defense expenses when they are accused of an offense that may affect their licenses.  Most physicians and dentists already have insurance that covers this.  Nurses can buy insurance that covers this for less than ten dollars ($10) a month (note:  available from Nurses Service Organization (NSO), CPH & Associates and other carriers).  Other health professionals such as pharmacists, psychologists, mental health counselors, massage therapists, respiratory therapists, aids and technicians should either pay extra for such coverage on their existing policies or should buy a separate policy which covers this (note:  available from Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO), Lloyd’s of London and other carriers).  The absolute minimum coverage you should have for this purpose is $25,000;  if you don’t have this much coverage for professional license defense, purchase more.

Remember This Is My Opinion.

What I say in this blog is my opinion.  There are those who may disagree with it.  If so, tough!  It is my experience as an attorney with more than 33 years of experience, and I’m sticking by it.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys in Matters Involving PRN or IPN.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, nurses and other health professionals in matters involving PRN or IPNOur attorneys also represent health providers in Department of Health investigations, before professional boards, in licensing matters, and in administrative hearings.

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 Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for impaired physicians, legal representation for Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN) defense attorney, Professionals Resource Network (PRN) defense legal counsel, DOH investigation defense attorney, legal representation for investigations against health care professionals, legal representation for Florida DOH investigations, Florida DOH representation, DOH complaint defense, legal representation for DOH complaint, Florida impaired practitioners program, legal representation for PRN matters, legal representation for IPN matters, legal representation for disruptive physician issues, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, changes to Florida impaired practitioners program, legal representation for health care investigations, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Neurosurgeon Awarded $17.5 Million, Despite Arrest for Soliciting Prostitute

Headshot of The Health Law Firm's attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On June 25, 2019, a Washington state appeals court sided with an arbitrator’s decision to award $17.5 million to a neurosurgeon who was fired after he didn’t disclose his arrest for soliciting prostitute.

Swedish Health Services had appealed the original arbitration ruling, arguing that the neurosurgeon violated the terms of his employment contract when he failed to notify the employer that he had been arrested in a prostitution sting. However, according to the reports, the neurosurgeon claimed that in 2017 Swedish Health Services actually fired him after he complained of the practices of a different doctor. The arbitral ruled in favor of the neurosurgeon and made the monetary award. Click here to read more.

Swedish Health Services argued that the arbitrator unfairly limited how much it could cross-examine the fired neurosurgeon about his “illicit behaviors” before he was fired. However, the court rejected arguments that Swedish Health Services didn’t get a fair shake at the arbitration hearing. The court affirmed that his sexual activities were irrelevant to the claims about the cause of the termination.
To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs about a wrongful termination case involving a health care facility and a former employee and whistleblower.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals.
This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors,
Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical
centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other healthcare provider. We represent
facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative
hearings and in representing physicians in investigations and at Board of Medicine and Board of
Osteopathic Medicine hearings. We represent physicians accused of wrongdoing, in patient complaints and in Department of Health investigations.

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

Sources:

Lidgett, Adam. “Doc Who Solicited Prostitute Sees $17.5M Arbitral Win Upheld.” Law360. (June 25, 2019). Web.

Baker, Mike. “Judge confirms $17.5M award for fired Swedish Health neurosurgeon.” Seattle Times. (October 23, 2017). 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: Representation for health care professionals, legal representation for alternative dispute resolution (ADRS) proceedings, legal representation for arbitration for health providers, physician arbitration mediation legal counsel, physician mediation-arbitration attorney, legal representation for mediation-arbitration for health providers, complex health care litigation attorney, complex medical litigation legal counsel, complex medical business litigation attorney, physician employment legal representation, physician employment attorney, physician employment dispute lawyer, wrongful termination of health professionals legal representation, medical employment contract lawyer, medical employment contact representation, breach of physician employment contract lawyer, breach of physician contract representation, representation for healthcare whistleblowers, whistleblower defense lawyer, qui tam defense lawyer, representation for qui tam cases, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm

“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Proposed Changes to Certificate of Need Law Eliminate CONs for Florida Hospitals

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

On June 3, 2019, Tallahassee healthcare regulators began the complex process of reshaping the state’s certificate of need (CON) program. Florida regulators are moving ahead to eliminate the certificate of need program for hospitals and to focus it on nursing homes, hospices, and institutions for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The Proposed Changes to the CON Laws.

In May 2019, the Florida Legislature eliminated certificate of need program requirements for general acute care hospitals and tertiary services. The new law keeps CON requirements for specialty hospitals in place only until July 1, 2021. Click here to read more.

Rules being proposed to implement the legislative changes would maintain the four review cycles but split them into two different categories. One category would deal with applications for hospital facilities and hospices. The other category would be dedicated to nursing homes and intermediate-care facilities for individuals with disabilities.

Florida’s Certificate of Needs Programs.

Opponents of the CON program argue that it limits the ability to create new healthcare services and to build new facilities (in other words, “competition is good”). Advocates for CONs have argued that geographic areas where hospital and other health facilities are overbuilt can actually lead to increased healthcare costs and reduced services (in other words, “competition is bad”).

Critics of CONs argue that they limit the free market and, because CONs stifle competition, lead to increased costs. They have long argued that the requirements to maintain CONs can be shifted from certificates of need to simple licensing requirements.

To read my prior blog dealing with a certificate of needs case, click here.

Consult With A Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation Health Care Professionals.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in academic disputes, contract negotiations, license applications, board certification applications, credential hearings and civil and administrative litigations and hearings. We also have experience in representation for health care investigations by the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA), the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs), the FBI, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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

Sources:

Sexton, Christine. “Florida regulators float new rules in hospital wars.” Sun-Sentinel. (July 5, 2019). Web.

“State Regulators Float New Rules in Hospital War Battles.” Law.com. (July 6, 2019). Web.

About the Authors: 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 Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Follow These Steps to Challenge OIG Exclusion From Medicare

Headshot of The Health Law Firm's attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Many health professionals don’t understand the significant repercussions that an exclusion action by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) can have on their professional careers and future employment. Whether you are a physician, nurse, dentist, psychologist or other health professionals, if you allow yourself to be excluded from the Medicare program, devastating economic results may follow.

The administrative process by which you may challenge a proposal from the OIG for most permissive or mandatory exclusion is challenging. In most cases, you will need experienced legal representation.  Below are the steps in the process you must follow to protect your career and your livelihood.

How to Challenge OIG Exclusion Actions.

1.    Notice of Intent (NOI) received: If the OIG is proposing to exclude a person or entity from Medicare, it will send out a letter called a “Notice of Intent” or “NOI.” This will contain the reasons for the exclusion and will detail hearing or appeal rights.  It is very important to make sure that your state licensing board and Medicare have your correct current address on file because the address which Medicare has will be where the NOI is mailed.  (Note:  the OIG may not send a NOI for mandatory exclusions which carry a 5-year minimum exclusion period.)  You will not have a second chance. Regardless, you usually only have 30 days to submit a written response requesting a hearing and containing information the OIG will consider in making its decision.  In some cases, providers may have the opportunity to present oral arguments before OIG officials. You must make sure that your request is received by the deadline, not just mailed by the deadline.  Send your request by a fast, reliable means (such as Federal Express or U.S. express mail) that you can track; or register for and file it electronically online.  Read the instructions in the letter and follow them. Be sure you get a receipt when you file.

2.    Notice of Exclusion (NOE): Sometimes the OIG will send a “Notice of Exclusion” or “NOE” if it decides to exclude a provider regardless of the response provided to a NOI or in certain cases of mandatory exclusions or certain permissive exclusions where no NOI is ever sent. Medicare exclusions usually take effect 20 days after the NOE is mailed. In cases involving fraud, kickbacks and other prohibited activities, a Notice of Proposal to Exclude or NOPE may be sent instead.

3.    Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing: Providers have the right to appeal a proposed exclusion by requesting an administrative hearing (similar to a trial) before an “Administrative Law Judge” or “ALJ.” ALJ’s are part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If you wish to request an ALJ hearing, you must do so within 60 days of receiving the Notice of Exclusion (or according to the instructions), and you must be prepared to raise all of your arguments over issues regarding the decision itself, the proposed exclusion period, mitigating factors or other aspects of the action.

4.    Department Appeals Board (DAB): If you disagree with the ALJ hearing decision, you can further appeal to the HHS “Departmental Appeals Board” or “DAB.” This is a written appeal which will be required to set forth legal errors which were made in the ALJ hearing.

5.    Judicial Review: If you disagree with the decision made by the DAB, your only option is to challenge the final decision in a U.S. District Court.

MOST IMPORTANT, consult a health law attorney experienced in such matters. The consequences of  Medicare exclusion, even a permissive exclusion for one year or three years, are severe. Most people do not realize this until it is too late; then it is too late (in many, but not all, cases).

To learn more about the consequences of OIG exclusion, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Attorney Experienced in Defending Against Action to Exclude an Individual or Business from the Medicare Program.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm have experience in dealing with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and defending against action to exclude an individual or business entity from the Medicare Program, in administrative hearings on this type of action, in submitting applications requesting reinstatement to the Medicare Program after exclusion, and removal from the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE).

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 Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Nurses: Helpful Tips On Deposition Preparation

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

With the number of healthcare-related lawsuits on the rise, at some time in your career, you will most likely receive a subpoena requiring you to give an oral statement at a deposition. Having your deposition taken can be a stressful or even scary experience.

Following the simple steps we have set forth in this blog, you can make your deposition experience less stressful and hopefully relieve your feelings of anxiety.

Before the Deposition.

1. Be Prepared. You should prepare yourself for your deposition by familiarizing yourself with the chart or other medical records at issue in the lawsuit unless your attorney instructs you otherwise. You should be prepared to answer general knowledge questions regarding the issues involved in the lawsuit. The examining attorney does not expect an in-depth medical response; however, using some medical terminology may add to your credibility as a professional. Again, it is imperative that you realize your role in the case prior to deposition in order to assist in your preparation. If you have used certain medical terms in your nurse’s notes or medical record be sure you know exactly what they mean. If you used an abbreviation, be sure you know what it means.

2. Contact Your Attorney and Demand a Preparation Meeting. If you work in a hospital, you can probably expect the hospital’s attorney to conduct a predeposition conference to familiarize you with the plaintiff’s theory of the case when a hospital is being sued as an employer. Keep in mind that this attorney is not your attorney, but is your employer’s attorney; therefore, you may wish to retain a board certified healthcare attorney or a litigation attorney to be “on your side” for the deposition. If you are not contacted several weeks prior to your deposition regarding preparation for it, call your attorney and demand an appointment no later than one week prior to the deposition. This will give you time to meet with the attorney, learn about the issues involved in the suit, learn more about your role in the lawsuit, time to reschedule the meeting or have a follow-up meeting and time to relax before your deposition. Ask your attorney if he or she has a videotape of other depositions (from a different case) or a training videotape for you to watch. A training videotape can be particularly useful if you have never been deposed before. If your attorney does not conduct a pre-deposition conference with you, you are not receiving proper legal representation. Ask for a new attorney who has the time to properly prepare you for your deposition.

3. Ask If You Can Sit in on Other Depositions Before Yours. Although this may not be permitted in some cases, in many cases it will be. Consult with your attorney.

4. Do Not Discuss the Case With Others. Never discuss the case with others, unless your attorney is present or advises you it is ok to do this. If anyone tries to talk to you about the case, do not. If anyone asks you questions about the case, immediately advise them you have an attorney and that person should speak with your attorney.

5. Visit the Location of the Deposition. Unless the deposition will be held in your hospital or office, drive to the location where it will be held ahead of time and check out the parking situation. If you do this, you will not be rushed or late on the day of the deposition.

6. Pick Out Your Deposition Clothes. Pick out and prepare your deposition clothes prior to the deposition.

7. Obtain and Review Your Employer’s Medical Abbreviations List. If you work for a hospital, facility or group that has a “standard medical abbreviations list,” obtain it and review it. Check the records you wrote (after consulting with your attorney) to see if you used any incorrectly; if you did use an abbreviation incorrectly, be prepared to explain what you meant and why you used the abbreviation.

At the Deposition.

1. Dress the Part. As a general rule, unless your attorney advises you that it is okay to wear a nursing uniform, wear your best professional suit or “church clothes.” Regardless, be sure that your clothes are freshly cleaned and not in need of tailoring or repair. If in doubt, take what you plan to wear to your pre-deposition meeting with your attorney.

2. Do Not Be Intimidated. In some cases, an examining attorney will attempt to harass or intimidate a deponent during a deposition. If you have your own attorney present, she or he will attempt to curtail these types of tactics. If you begin to feel pressured, pause and take a breath before you begin your answer. Answers that are not thought out are the answers that the examining attorney will use to destroy your credibility as a witness.

3. Tell the Truth. When being deposed, you are under a sworn oath, to tell the truth. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you give only truthful information to the deposing attorney. The truth is the easiest to remember and will help you deal with any psychological intimidation or other tactics that a hostile interrogating attorney might use. Harassment usually occurs when the attorney thinks that the witness is deliberately misstating or withholding relevant facts. Keeping your answers truthful may help reduce this type of behavior by the examining attorney.

4. Give Direct Answers. Give direct, straightforward responses without rambling or exaggerating and without volunteering information that was not requested. It is easy to be misled into “telling all” by a friendly opposing attorney. Keep in mind that the deponent is only required to give knowledge that he or she personally has. If you do not know the answer to the question, you should state that you do not have personal knowledge of the information being asked. Remember, when an attorney for the other side is asking questions, the best answer is the shortest truthful answer. The best answer will usually be: “Yes,” “No,” “I don’t know,” or “I don’t recall.” If one of these answers applies, use it. Do not volunteer information. Additionally, do not guess the answer to the question. Similarly, do not state your opinion; give only facts of which you have personal knowledge. Keep your answers honest, straightforward and direct.

5. Listen Carefully. It is important that the deponent listen very carefully to the question asked by the attorney. Many times, attorneys do not prepare questions or rehearse questions in preparation for a deposition. As a result, some of the questions asked by the deposing attorney may be poorly worded, confusing or may be asked in many parts. Give only the answer to the question asked.

6. Ask the Attorney to Rephrase or Re-ask the Question. The questions asked should be completely understood. If you have listened carefully and you are asked a question that you do not understand, it is proper and appropriate to request that the attorney rephrase the question. You should not feel anxious or embarrassed to request that the question be rephrased.

7. Only Answer Questions Within Your Scope of Work. In some cases, you may be asked medical questions that are outside your knowledge or scope of practice. It is certainly appropriate for you to say that you do not know the answer to the question or that the information is beyond your knowledge as a nurse. You should not answer questions involving subjects about which you are not knowledgeable. It is also proper to state if you do not remember the answer to a question.

8. Stay Calm. While being deposed, attempt to stay calm, relaxed and composed throughout the deposition. This type of behavior will enhance your credibility as a witness. You should not be concerned with how your answers will affect others involved in the lawsuit. Be sure to take your time in answering the questions asked. You should not feel rushed to answer the questions; after all, the attorney deposing you subpoenaed you for the deposition.

9. Speak Clearly. Speaking clearly will also aid you in the deposition. A court reporter is recording everything you are saying. Therefore, you must orally answer every question. It will also assist to curtail rambling if you remember that a court reporter is recording every word you speak.

10. Be Polite. Being polite and cooperative can only help your position. Even though an attorney may attempt to intimidate you, being polite and cooperative will hinder his ability to make you feel uncomfortable.

11. Never Lose Your Temper. Never lose your temper or allow yourself to lose control. Some attorneys will try to get you to do this so you will say something without thinking.

12. No Joking. Do not laugh or joke around immediately before, during or after a deposition. This is a serious matter. Treat it seriously. Never relax your guard around the opposing attorney. He is not your friend.

13. Pause Before Answering. Pause two seconds before you answer each question. This will give you time to think. This will also give your attorney time to object if the question is improper.

14. Stop Immediately if Someone Else Speaks. If anyone else starts to speak, stop talking immediately. If your attorney objects, listen very carefully to the objection. Your attorney may be trying to tell you something.

After your Deposition.

After being deposed, if you made any mistakes in your deposition or later remember an answer, notify your attorney immediately. It is probably not too late to correct it.

You have the right to obtain a copy, check and change any errors or mistakes (even ones you made) in the typed transcript of the deposition. Never waive your right to obtain a copy and read the deposition transcript (unless your attorney has advised you of a good reason to do this before the deposition). Demand that you receive a copy of the transcript so you can review it prior to your later testimony at the trial (which may be years later). Always demand a copy of the transcript with all of the exhibits attached to it.

You have the right to review the entire transcript, correct any typographical errors or any erroneous statements you may have made and file these corrections with the transcript. You can only do this if you exercise your right as a deponent to “read and sign the transcript.” This is very important. Never agree to waive “reading and signing” unless you have discussed it with your attorney before the deposition and you have received a good reason you should do this.

If you will be called as a witness at the trial or in a related case, always review the transcript of your deposition twice, once approximately one week before and again the night before you testify.

Again, until the entire case is over and finalized (only your attorney can tell you when this is), do not discuss the case with anyone else.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses at Depositions.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses in depositions, Department of Health investigations, before the Board of Nursing, in appearances before the Board of Nursing in licensing matters, and in administrative hearings.

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: Nurse Representation, Board of Nursing Cases, Department of Health (DOH) Investigations of Nurses, Representation for Depositions of Nurses, Nurse Administrative Complaint Defense, Appeal of Board of Nursing Final Orders, Nurse License Applications, Nurse Emergency Suspension Order Appeals Representation, Representation of Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) Representation, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) Legal Representation, Nursing Contracts Lawyer, Nurse Protocols Representation, Allegations of Drug Diversion by Nurses, Nurse Attorney

“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-07-11T07:19:07-04:00July 11th, 2019|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|0 Comments

Helpful Tips to Avoid Unlicensed Practice of Nursing Charges

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

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has increased the investigation and prosecution of unlicensed practice of nursing and other health professions. More resources and more investigators are being assigned to this duty. This dramatic increase in resources and staff has resulted in the investigation of more complaints than ever regarding the unlicensed practice of nursing.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid charges of unlicensed practice of nursing or of aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of nursing:

1. If you are not licensed as a nurse in the state of Florida and you are working in Florida, do not call yourself a nurse. This by itself violates the law.

2. It does not matter if you are licensed as a nurse in another state or another country. If you are not licensed in Florida, you may not legally refer to yourself as a nurse here.

3. Wear a name tag that identifies you as “Medical Assistant,” “Doctor’s Assistant,” “Phlebotomist,” “Clinic Staff,” or title other than a nurse if you are not a licensed nurse in Florida.

4. If a patient or your own staff incorrectly refers to you as a “nurse,” correct them and advise them that you are not licensed in the state of Florida or that you are not a nurse, but a medical assistant.

5. If you are a doctor, clinic administrator, or office manager, never refer to a medical assistant, certified nursing assistant (CNA) or another unlicensed person as a “nurse” or “the nurse.”

6. Be sure none of your business cards, resume, letterhead or correspondence refers to you as a nurse, R.N., or L.P.N., unless you are actually licensed in the state.

Please, note that we have been required to provide legal advice and representation to many different individuals because of situations like those listed above.

Words of Wisdom.

The DOH’s Bureau of Enforcement is cracking down on unlicensed activity. It is highly likely that if you are practicing a health profession without a license, any complaint about you will be investigated. Practicing a health care profession without a license is a criminal offense. Penalties include arrest by law enforcement, fines, and the issuance of a cease and desist order.

To view the DOH Unlicensed Activity Program website, click here.
Read one of my recent blogs about Florida DOH practitioner profile’s here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in accusations of disruptive behavior, Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid 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.

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 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 and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-06-13T03:32:57-04:00June 13th, 2019|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|0 Comments

Nurses: Please Do NOT Talk to a Department of Health Investigator!

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

Whether you are a nurse, physician, pharmacist or dentist, I beseech you: please do not talk to a Department of Health (DOH) investigator until you have talked to a health lawyer who is experienced with DOH investigations and board licensing complaints. Do not answer or respond to even the most basic questions about where you work now, what your address is or if you know patient x, until consulting with counsel.

Admitting to Simple Facts Can Do Major Damage.

We are routinely consulted by nursing professionals for representation after they have discussed the case and after it is too late to undo the damage they have caused to themselves. Often they do not understand the seriousness of the matter or the possible consequences, until it is too late. Admitting to even the most basic facts causes damage to any possible defense.


Administrative Licensure Investigations are “Quasi-Criminal.”

The vast majority of nurses and even most attorneys do not realize that DOH investigations concerning complaints against a healthcare professional’s license are considered to be “penal” or “quasi-criminal” proceedings. This means the same laws and constitutional rights apply to them as apply to criminal investigations. However, since they are also administrative proceedings and not strictly criminal proceedings, investigators do not need to advise you of your Miranda rights or tell you you have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, etc.

In any criminal investigation a good criminal defense attorney would always tell you “Do not talk to the investigator” and “Tell the investigator you have a lawyer.”


Investigators’ Techniques Include Trying to Get You to Not Consult an Experienced Attorney.

DOH investigators, like police investigators, FBI investigators and other law enforcement officers, are well-trained in investigative techniques and how to get information out of suspects. Often the approach used is to catch you by surprise before you even know there is an investigation and the investigation is of you. Another technique used is to lull you into a false sense of security that the investigation is about someone or something else and not you.

Another investigative technique is to convince you that you need to “Tell your side of the story” so that the investigation is accurate. Yet another is that, “Things will go much better for you if you cooperate.”
None of these things are true.

However, if it is truly in your best interest to cooperate or to make a statement, after you consult with your attorney, your legal counsel will surely advise you to do this. The investigator should not mind waiting until you consult your attorney. However, many will go to extremes to convince you that you don’t need an attorney and shouldn’t get an attorney.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Today.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm are experienced in dealing with DOH investigators, AHCA surveyors, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, FBI agents, police and sheriff’s office investigators, 0 IG special agents (S/As) and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigators. Call or contact The Health Law Firm for legal advice before you talk to any investigator about any matter.

About the Author: George F. Indest 111, 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.

Disclaimer: Please note that this article represents our opinions based on our many years of practice and experience in this area of health law. You may have a different opinion; you are welcome to it. This one is mine.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only; it is not legal advice.

Keywords: Department of Health investigation representation, DOH defense lawyer, DOH investigation, representation for DOH investigations, DOH investigation defense attorney, DOH representation, representation for board licensing complaint, board licensing complaint representation, board licensing complaint lawyer, board representation for healthcare professionals, licensure defense, licensure defense attorney, licensure defense representation, representation for administrative complaint, administrative licensure investigation representation, administrative hearing attorney, Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) representation, AHCA attorney, AHCA defense lawyer, nurse attorney, representation for nurses, nurse defense lawyer, defense lawyer for nurses, board of nursing defense lawyer, healthcare attorney, representation for healthcare professionals, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, FBI agents, OIG special agents, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) investigators, representation for physicians, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews for The Health Law Firm
“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2019-05-08T14:56:58-04:00May 8th, 2019|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|0 Comments

DeSantis Yanks Large Number of Appointments Made by Former Governor, Several on Board of Nursing

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

On February 22, 2019, Florida’s new Governor, Rick DeSantis retracted 169 appointments that the former governor made before leaving office. Several of these were appointments that had been made to the Florida Board of Nursing. This is not the first time he has called back last-minute decisions made by his predecessor. In January 2019, he retracted 46 of Scott’s “lame duck appointments.”

The new governor has now pulled a total of 215 of Scott’s prior appointments to various boards and committees.

Here’s a List of the Appointments Made by Scott That Governor DeSantis Pulled for the Professional Boards Under the Department of Health (DOH):

Heather Baumwald, Board of Nursing

Jennifer Raymond, Board of Nursing

Mary Julie Talmadge, Board of Nursing

Steve Moreau, Board of Acupuncture

Angela Sissine, Board of Dentistry

Steven Falcone, Board of Medicine

Andre Perez, Board of Medicine

Merle Preston Stringer, Board of Medicine

Elna Rose Vizvary, Board of Occupational Therapy Practice

Katie Gilbert-Spear, Board of Optometry

John Edmund Griffin, Board of Optometry

David Rouse, Board of Optometry

Paul Weott, Board of Orthotists and Prosthetists

Mark Block, Board of Podiatric Medicine

Soorena Sadri, Board of Podiatric Medicine

In January 2019, Governor DeSantis retracted nearly 46 of Scott’s appointments. The Senate withdrew all of the names from their appointments.

The Retractions Made In January for DOH Boards Included:

Philip Diaz, Board of Chiropractic Medicine

Dr. Emique Ginzburg, Board of Medicine

Nicolas Romanello, Board of Medicine

Linville Atkins, Board of Optometry

The list of retracted appointments also included nominations to a host of major and minor positions, from college boards of trustees to trade boards and state commissions. To take a look at the full list of appointments, not just those listed on the DOH, click here.

Click here to read the press release that Governor DeSantis’s issued regarding the matter.
You can also view a copy of the letter he wrote to Senate President Galvano here.

A spokeswoman for Senate President Galvano said the Senate will fully comply with DeSantis’ request. “Senate President Bill Galvano will act in accordance with the Senate Rules and will direct the Secretary to return the documentation of the appointments and document the return in the Journal,” said Katie Betta.

To learn more about DOH matters and investigations, click here.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Nursing Issues Today.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nurse practitioners, and CRNAs in investigations, contract negotiations, licensing issues and at Board of Nursing hearings.  They also advise nurses wrongfully accused of diverting drugs and those wrongfully terminated from employment.  Its attorneys represent nurses in DOHinvestigations, Board of Nursing cases and administrative hearings.

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

Sources:

Ogles, Jacob. “Governor sacks college board trustees across the state.” Florida Politics. (February 24, 2019). Web.

Ogles, Jacob. “Ron DeSantis pulls back nearly 170 Rick Scott appointments.” Florida Politics. (February 25, 2019). Web.

Schweers, Jeffrey. “Florida ethics commission reviewing rules after Ron DeSantis yanks Rick Scott appointments.” Tallahassee Democrat. (February 26, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law 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 Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for Department of Health (DOH) investigations, legal representation for DOH complaints, DOH compliant representation, professional license defense attorney, professional license representation, healthcare license representation, healthcare license defense representation, Board defense representation,  legal defense for nurses, legal representation for nurses, nurse defense attorney, board of nursing attorney, board of nursing defense representation, health care license defense lawyer, DOH defense attorney, DOH investigation defense lawyer, representation for DOH investigation, Florida health law attorney, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for disciplinary actions against your license, legal representation for license revocation, Board of Medicine defense lawyer, administrative complaint attorney, legal representation for administrative complaints, Board of Medicine representation, legal counsel for Board representation, The Health Law Firm, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorneys review

“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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