Chinese Nationals Indicted in Alleged U.S. Test-Taking Scheme

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Fifteen Chinese citizens living in the United States reportedly conspired to take college entrance exams for others so they could obtain student visas, according to the Associated Press. The frauds allegedly took standardized exams including the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

The Test-Taking Conspiracy.

According to BBC News, the scheme reportedly took place between 2011 and 2015, mainly in western Pennsylvania. Six individuals named in the indictment were identified as students who supposedly paid up to $6,000 to have other individuals, also charged, take the tests. The test-takers purportedly “impersonated others, and those others were able to use the fraudulent test scores to obtain F1 visas,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton told the Associated Press. The individuals allegedly used fake passports that contained the students’ personal information, but a picture of the test-taker substituted for the student.

Testing Services Cooperate with the Investigation.

Princeton, New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service and the New York-based College Board are cooperating with the investigation, according to Hickton. “Their actions are consistent with the College Board’s commitment to identify and stop illegal activity that undermines the integrity of our exams and the hard work of students around the world,” College Board vice president Stacy Caldwell told the Associated Press. Educational Testing Service administers the SAT, GRE, and TOEFL exams, while the College Board oversees SAT registration.

Offenders Expected to Receive More Than Just a Slap on the Wrist.

The charges against the suspects include conspiracy, counterfeiting passports, mail and wire fraud, BBC News reported. The defendants, both male and female ranging in age from 19 to 26, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. According to BBC’s report, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations of Philadelphia John Kelleghan believes “these students were not only cheating their way into the university, they were also cheating their way through our nation’s immigration system.”

Due to the ongoing investigation, a final number has not yet been released documenting an exact number of suspects believed to be involved in the ruse.

Is There Similar Activity Going On in Medical Testing for NBME, USMLE or ECFMG Administered Tests?

There have been somewhat similar alleged test-taking fraudulent activities involving medical testing. From time to time we are consulted by individuals who have been caught using fraudulent documents to attempt to take the USMLE Step exams. We are also aware of allegations that there have been compromises of actual examinations involving foreign nationals. For example, see the blog I wrote on the Optima scandal.

On the whole, the NBME, USMLE, and ECFMG and their testing centers do an excellent job in screening out fraudulent test takers. It would be foolish for anyone who ever hoped to be a practicing physician to try to perpetrate a fraud in taking these tests.

Comments?

What are your thoughts on these allegations? Do you feel standardized testing should be monitored more heavily to prevent test-taking fraud from occurring? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to medical, dental, chiropractic, other professional students, residents, interns and fellows in academic disputes, contract negotiations, license applications, board certification applications and hearings, credential hearings, and civil and administrative litigations.

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

Sources:

“Chinese Nationals Accused of Taking SATs for Others.” BBC News. (May 28 2015). From:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32921737

Mandak, Joe. “Feds Indict 15 Chinese in Alleged College Test-Taking Scheme.” The Associated Press. (May 28, 2015). From:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/feds-indict-15-chinese-alleged-college-test-taking-31366456

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: medical students, standardized tests, irregular behavior, fraud, defense attorney, legal representation, criminal proceeding, administrative law, health law, health care attorney, health care lawyer, defense lawyer, GME, graduate medical education, Step exams, medical interns, medical residents, ECFMG lawyer, USMLE attorney, foreign medical graduate attorney, legal counsel, legal advocate

“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.

Is Your Smart Phone HIPAA Compliant?

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

Identity theft is at an all-time high, and the health care industry is at exceptional risk. It’s no mystery that a patient’s health file contains all the pertinent information required to successfully steal a person’s identity, including the “Big 3”; specifically, name, date of birth, and Social Security number.

Worse yet, with ever-increasing technological trends, hackers are capable of banking a quick buck before most of their victims even become aware they are vulnerable.

Technology is a Positive Thing.

Technology offers us the world at our fingertips. Smart phones and tablets are conveniently mobile and, therefore, constantly available to us for information obtaining, information storing, information sharing and other communicative purposes.

Furthermore, technology has provided us with ways in which our lives can be made easier and more manageable through various downloadable applications (apps). These apps provide us with ways to track weather, news, and even our fitness progress, as well as coupons accessible by a simple bar code scan, meditation for the stressful life, and even automatic on/off commands for light switches and dishwashers. Apps also offer hours of enjoyment to satiate our craving for entertainment, even in the “company” of others, without ever having to leave our home.

It’s no wonder that more and more employers, especially hospitals (where everything moves at a fast pace), are jumping on board with the convenience and efficiency that technology can bring to the workplace. Furthermore, by implementing a bring your own device (BYOD) policy (since most employees already have access to their own technological devices) employers can save a ton on not having to purchase the tools on their own.

In a survey conducted by Aruba Networks, Inc., an HP company, in 2012, it was found that a whopping 85% of health care facilities were already allowing staff to utilize personal technological devices in the workplace. What was once considered to be unprofessional, is now determined necessary in carrying out normal job responsibilities. Due to the life-or-death nature of health care, hospitals are relying on electronic devices for:

(a) urgency in decision-making;

(b) constant availability;

(c) immediate response; and

(d) more accurate data; to name a few.

BYOD takes this a step farther in making information readily available to any health care professional at any time from their personal device, avoiding the necessity to access a workplace device which is not portable.

But What Happens When Technology is Used Negatively?

Technology sounds wonderful.

However, we have essentially stored our entire lives (and in the instance of health care professionals, now our patients’ entire lives) on a mobile device. Mobile, as in it goes with us everywhere, and therefore, it’s always at risk. Furthermore, with the heightened adoption of BYOD, systems are at risk of malware attacks resulting from downloads from personal devices that have not engaged appropriate security measures.

Regardless of how the attack occurs (lost, stolen, or of the viral nature), health care providers are responsible for protecting the privacy of their patients per the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

A Tweet May Result in HIPAA Violation for One Florida Hospital.

Following an alleged fireworks incident that resulted in the amputation of an index finger for New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, a tweet surfaced from Adam Schefter, an ESPN NFL reporter. Schefter tweeted a picture of the Giants’ medical record which he allegedly acquired from Miami-based Jackson Health System, reportedly without the consent of Pierre-Paul. To read more on this case, click here.

Tweeting; another by-product of technology and the insurgence of social media platforms. It’s enticing to share intimate details of our every day lives, especially when they affect others; namely, celebrities. And our smart phones offer instant access to photographing, uploading, and sharing of this “juicy” information.

But while Schefter is not in violation of any laws, the Florida hospital very well may be. Fines for HIPAA violations can range anywhere from $100-$50,000 per violation with the imposition of a $1.5 million dollar cap per calendar year.

Is a photograph worth your career?

What Can You Do to Protect Your Device?

Some HIPAA violations via technology are clearly avoidable (i.e., not divulging photographs of patient records for tweeting). Others are somewhat less manageable unless you know how to safeguard yourself against a technological breach.

While HIPAA does not require encryption and other safeguards on mobile devices, many employers do. It is important to know what your specific hospital’s policies are regarding HIPAA compliance on your smart phone and/or tablet.

Additionally, here are some tips to keep you and/or your employees protected under HIPAA violations when utilizing your own mobile device:

(1) Use a password or other user authentication (many devices now allow the use of fingerprint identification to unlock the device);

(2) Install and enable encryption on your smart phone;

(3) Install and activate remote wiping and remote disabling (this will protect you in the event your smart phone or tablet is lost or stolen);

(4) Disable and do not install or use file sharing applications;

(5) Install and enable a firewall on your device;

(6) Install and enable security software (this should protect against malware attacks);

(7) Keep your security software up to date;

(8) Research mobile applications (apps) before downloading (never just assume an app is HIPAA compliant- even health related apps);

(9) Maintain physical control over your device at all times (it goes without saying that your device is at the least risk when it’s in your own hands);

(10) Use adequate security, including those listed above, to send or receive health information over public Wi-Fi networks; and

(11) Delete all stored health information before discarding, selling, donating or trading the mobile device!

If all else fails and you find yourself in the middle of an investigation for possible HIPAA violations, consult with an experienced health attorney right away. There can be civil fines as well as criminal charges imposed on you, in addition to action taken by your employer.

For more information on risk assessment for HIPAA violations, read our previous blog post here.

Comments?
Do you use your own mobile device for your workplace? Do you know if it’s HIPAA compliant? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Defending HIPAA Complaints and Violations.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in investigating and defending alleged HIPAA complaints and violations and in preparing Corrective Action Plans (CAPs).

For more information about HIPAA violations, electronic health records or corrective action plans (CAPs) please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Bowman, Dan. “Potential HIPAA Violation Could Land Hospital in Hot Water.” FierceHealthIT. 9 July 2015. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.

Cook, Stacy. “How to Maintain HIPAA Compliance With Mobile Devices: A Law Review Q&A.” Advisory.com. The Advisory Board Company, 27 June 2014. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.

“Growing Tech Trends: The Rise of BYOD in Hospitals.” Information Technology Blog. Information Technology Group, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.

“How Can You Protect and Secure Health Information When Using a Mobile Device?” HealthIT.gov. n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.

Kolbasuk McGee, Marianne. “Prison Term in HIPAA Violation Case: Are More Such Prosecutions on the Horizon?” InfoRisk Today. 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.

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: HIPAA complaints, HIPAA violations, HIPAA attorney, mobile device, technology in healthcare, technology in the workplace, HIPAA privacy complaint investigation lawyer, breach of patient confidentiality, breach of medical privacy, OCR HIPAA investigation, HIPAA complaint defense, technology in hospitals, health attorney, defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, health law firm, electronic devices, Social Security number, technological breach, breach of patient information, safeguarding patient information, HIPAA compliance, smart phones in hospitals

“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.

By |2020-02-12T14:33:36-05:00May 15th, 2018|Categories: Health Law, HIPAA Compliance, HIPAA violation|Tags: |0 Comments

Detroit Medical Center Agrees to Pay $42M to End Long-Running Antitrust Suit

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A month before trial was set to begin, Detroit Medical Center (DMC) agreed to pay $42 million to end a nine-year antitrust class action lawsuit. The suit was brought by nurses accusing eight Detroit area hospitals of conspiring to keep their wages low, violating antitrust laws from 2002-2006. The DMC was the last remaining defendant in a 2006 class-action lawsuit before Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen. To read a blog I wrote on another health care antitrust case, click here.

A copy of the class action complaint that was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan can be found here.


Last Man Standing.

The nurses have alleged the DMC and seven other Detroit area hospitals “participated in an unlawful conspiracy to depress wages for Registered Nurses and/or to unlawfully exchange wage information in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.” For more information on antitrust laws, visit the “Areas of Practice” page on our website. The seven other hospitals involved in the suit settled with the nurses for a combined $48 million. DMC is expected to pay $42 million into a combined settlement fund, bringing total compensation in the case to $90 million. To view the class settlement agreement in this case, click here.

“It’s Not What It Looks Like.”

DMC had planned to take the case to trial in a month, but instead veered off course and decided to settle instead. “The settlement is not an admission of liability but rather a business decision to bring the matter to a resolution. We remain committed to our nurses and value the hard work and dedication of all our hospital staff,” DMC counsel released in a statement defending their decision. For more information, visit their website by clicking here.

Comments?

Do you think the settlement amount of $42 million was fair? Have you ever experienced a situation where antitrust laws were broken? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced With Antitrust Laws and Trade Regulation.

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.

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 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 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Kang, Peter. “Detroit Hospital to Pay $42M to End Nurse Wage-Fixing Suit.” Law360. (September 11, 2015). From: http://www.law360.com/health/articles/702135?nl_pk=68a34a8e-1544-489d-9b84-bbd4587b4d64&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=health

Cwiek, Sarah. “Detroit Medical center agrees to settle with nurses, end long-running antitrust lawsuit.” Michigan Radio. (September 14, 2015). From: http://michiganradio.org/post/detroit-medical-center-agrees-settle-nurses-end-long-running-antitrust-lawsuit#stream/0

Halcom, Chad. “DMC expects to settle nurse wage class-action lawsuit for $42 million.” Crain’s Detroit Business. (September 14, 2015). From:
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20150914/NEWS/150919922/dmc-expects-to-settle-nurse-wage-class-action-lawsuit-for-42-million

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: Antitrust laws, violating antitrust laws, anticompetitive conduct, Sherman Act, price fixing, wage fixing, trade regulation law, Federal Trade Commission, FTC, Detroit Medical Center, DMC, Michigan Antitrust Reform Act, unfair competition laws, deceptive and unfair trade practices, restraints on trade or business, defense attorney, defense lawyer, health care law, health law attorney, wage dispute, wage settlement, settlement agreement, health care law, health law attorney

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“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.

By |2015-09-18T14:01:55-04:00May 15th, 2018|Categories: antitrust, Health Law|Tags: |0 Comments
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