By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Many pharmacists or their pharmacies carry professional malpractice insurance through Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) or one of the other similar professional liability insurance companies. What they may not realize is that this insurance will pay for their legal defense expenses if there is a complaint filed against their pharmacist license or the pharmacy’s license. It will also pay for legal defense expenses if they receive a subpoena for records, if they are required to attend a deposition, or if they are accused of violating HIPAA or a client’s medical confidentiality.
Under this type of policy, the insurance company will pay the legal fees and other costs related to your defense or legal representation. However, you will be required to locate and retain the appropriate attorney to represent you in the matter.
What to Look For When Retaining an Attorney to Defend You.
1. The primary qualification for any attorney you hire to represent you should be his or her experience in working with health professionals in the same field. If the attorney is not familiar with your area of health practice, with the type of legal proceeding you have, or with your professional licensing board, it may be difficult for that attorney to represent you properly.
2. If consult with an attorney who states that she or he will help you make a statement to the investigator or assist you in the investigation, but will not agree to appear and represent you in hearings, then this is the wrong attorney. You need an attorney that can represent you from start to finish.
3. Seek and retain an attorney who accepts the insurance that you have, whether it is HPSO Insurance, CPH & Associates Insurance, Philadelphia Insurance, Pharmacist Mutual Insurance Company (PMIC), Trust Management Services, Philadelphia Insurance, Firemans Fund, or another national company. This will ensure that you have an attorney who will give you the lower rates the insurance company has negotiated and will have a good working relationship established with your insurance company. If an attorney with our firm cannot represent you, we will try to find you an attorney who will.
4. You also want to retain the services of an attorney who has appeared before your professional board or professional licensing authority in investigations and hearings, especially in formal administrative hearings.
5. Often you will come across an attorney who only wants you to accept a consent order, stipulation, or settlement agreement. Remember that these are all merely plea bargains and you will be pleading guilty to whatever offenses are charged. This is teh easy way out and often the easy way is not the right way. IF you plead guilty then, from that point on, you are guilty. In most cases, however, you will actually be innocent of the charges and will need a formal administrative hearing in order to prove this.
6. You don’t necessarily need an attorney who resides in your city, state, or location. Almost all the work on the case will be done by telephone and e-mail. You usually have only one meeting or hearing and, depending on what type of hearing it is, it could be located in many different locations. Our attorneys will travel to those locations for meetings and hearings.
7. Beware of attorneys who hold themselves out in Internet advertising as health attorneys or professional license defense attorneys but are really some other type of attorneys. We see this a lot from medical malpractice attorneys, criminal defense attorneys and attorneys who sue insurance companies. Be sure you get an attorney who concentrates his or her practice in defending those in the specialty of pharmacy and in board of pharmacy complaints, investigations, and hearings.
8. If you can’t find an attorney to meet your immediate needs through our firm or an Internet search, you may contact your insurance company or professional association and ask if they have a list of attorneys that can do the legal work you require.
For example, you may reach Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) at (800) 982-9491; you can reach Nurses Service Organization (NSO) at (800) 247-1500; you can reach CPH & Associates at (800) 875-1911 or (312) 987-9823; you can reach Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company (PMIC) at (800) 247-5930.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced Investigations of Pharmacists and Pharmacies.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to pharmacists, pharmacies, prescribing physicians, dispensing physicians and nurse practitioners, and other health providers in pharmacy board complaints and investigations, Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Colorado DORA investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, Medicare and Medicaid audits, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) 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.
In cases in which the health care professional has professional liability insurance or general liability insurance which provides coverage for such matters, we will seek to obtain coverage by your insurance company and will attempt to have your legal fees and expenses covered by your insurance company. If allowed, we will agree to take an assignment of your insurance policy proceeds in order to be able to submit our bills directly to your insurance company.
We also defend health professionals and health facilities in general litigation matters and business litigation matters.
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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