By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
In my 30 plus years of practice representing physicians, dentists, nurses and health care professionals, I have defended clients involved in many different situations. Several of these seem to be problem areas which we see repeatedly. The following is a list of those problems which it would seem to be common sense for a physician or other health care professional to avoid doing.
I can assure you, it is always a bad idea for a physician or other health care professional to:
1. Write a prescription for any medication for yourself.
2. Start a romantic relationship with a patient.
3. Take someone else’s prescription medication, ever.
4. Write a prescription for or treat a patient, especially a family member, for a condition outside the scope of her specialty (e.g., a dentist prescribing antibiotics to her children to treat a cold; a pediatrician prescribing pain medications for an adult; a dentist writing a prescription for pain medications for a patient’s back pain; an OB/GYN prescribing antidepressants for a male; podiatrist writing prescriptions for narcotics to treat back pain).
5. Write any prescription for or treat any patient who is in another state when the physician or health professional is not licensed in that state.
6. Treat or prescribe for any spouse, other family member, friend or colleague, without opening a medical record and fully documenting the treatment or prescription, as you would for any other patient.
7. Hire a patient to work for you in your office or, especially, allow a patient to “volunteer” to work in your office.
8. Pre-sign blank prescriptions for your physician assistant, ARNP, medical assistant, nurse, receptionist, or anyone else, to complete later, or have pre-signed blank prescriptions in your office.
9. Seek psychotherapy or drug/alcohol abuse treatment with a physician or health professional in your own medical group, institution or the staff of your own hospital.
10. Add to, alter or change any medical/dental record entry after you know there may be a claim, investigation or litigation involving it.
11. For a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselor, social worker, psychiatric nurse practitioner) to have any type of social relationship with a current patient.
12. Take and use your own drug samples provided by pharmaceutical companies.
13. Go into a hospital where you do not have clinical privileges and treat or “assist” in treating a patient there, even if it is your own patient.
14. Have a sexual relationship ( including “sexting” or “telephone sex”) with a patient or patient’s immediate family member.
These are actual examples from cases in which I have had to represent licensed health professionals in defending their licenses and attempting to keep their jobs. For each of the above, there have been more than one.
Avoid doing these things and you will be avoiding some of the major actions including charges and an investigation by your state licensing board, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), your national certification board, any facility at which you have privileges and other law enforcement agencies.
For more information on things that could be harmful to your professional license, click here to read one of my prior blogs.
To learn more about how The Health Law Firm can assist you, click here to visit our website’s areas of practice page.
Click here to view a powerpoint presentation from a previous lecture on how to protect your license.
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 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 the 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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