By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
This is Part 3 of a 3 part series on this issue.
I continue with my tips for preparing good, professional correspondence.
19. In longer correspondence, use section headings (in bold or underlined) or headings for each issue, to better organize it. Think of these as road signs on a long road. They help the reader to know where he or she is at any given time.
20. When using headers, skip two lines before the header and one line after the header. This helps to set off the new section and header and show a definite division.
21. Keep your language objective and professional. Do not ever use profanity [Oops, I just went back and removed the word “damn” I used above.] Do not ever use any comments even remotely resembling racism, sexism, or antisemitism or prejudice. Do not be sarcastic.
22. Be direct and concise in your language. To the greatest extent possible, use the same terminology and wording that the other party uses, or has used, or whatever statutes, regulations or governing documents with which you are dealing use (but also, be sure you know what the words and terms mean).
23. If you intend to request a formal hearing say “I request a formal hearing.” If you want a refund, state: “I request a full refund.” If you want to appeal the decision, state: “I want to appeal the decision.” Don’t be wishy-washy or vague. For example, don’t say, “I am looking for an attorney to file an appeal for me,” when what you mean to say is “I appeal the decision” or “I request an appeal.”
24. If there are any deadlines by which you must respond, be aware of these and make sure your response is received by that date. Remember “received” means “actually received” by the correct person (or office) at the correct address. It does not mean “mailed by” or “postmarked by.” If you have correspondence or a document to which you a response must be received by a certain date, you need to make sure it is in the receiving person’s hands by that date, even if you must hand carry it.
25. In closing your correspondence conclude by stating what action is next, whether this is action you intend to take, or action you are requesting the other party to take. For example: “I expect to hear from you within ten days as to whether you grant my request or not.” “Please contact me with hearing dates within the next fourteen days.” “I will forward you a refund within five days.” “I will send you my records within five days.”
26. Always advise the other party of exactly how they should contact you; provide multiple means of contacting you. If you are very busy or have an assistant who is authorized to act for you, provide that person’s name and contact information, as well. Then be available to receive the return communication(s). Don’t give telephone numbers you never answer.
27. In dealing with dates and deadlines, remember that ten days is ten days; fourteen days is fourteen days, twenty-one days is twenty-one days. Made up rules such as “weekends and holidays don’t count” are just that, made up (outside of formal legal proceedings). If the other party has given you “fourteen days to respond,” this means fourteen days from the date on the letter, unless specifically stated otherwise. Fourteen days means fourteen days, unless it is specifically stated otherwise (e.g., “you have fourteen business days to reply”).
28. Include a professional closing above your signature. This should be “Sincerely,” “Sincerely yours,” “respectfully submitted,” or some other professional closing.
29. In your signature block, include your full typed name, with credentials and title or position listed. For example, your full name, followed by your degree and other credentials (e.g., “John J. Smith, M.D., F.A.A.C.P.”) should be on the line immediately below where you sign. Next should be listed your position within your organization (if applicable) (e.g., “Chair, Pediatrics Department”).
30. If you have enclosures, list them at the end of the correspondence, giving a brief or shortened description and numbering them. List and number them in the order you discuss them in your correspondence. Be sure they are properly organized, labeled and divided, especially if any are lengthy.
Following these simple rules most people learn in middle school will help to keep your correspondence professional looking and in conformity with what most professionals see on a daily basis.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and 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.
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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