By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Many massage therapists and physical therapists carry professional malpractice insurance through the Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) or one of the other similar professional liability insurance companies. What they may not realize is that their insurance will pay for their legal defense expenses if there is a complaint filed against their massage therapy license or physical therapy license, if they receive a subpoena to testify or produce documents, or if they are accused of violating HIPAA or a client’s medical confidentiality.
Under such policies, the insurance company will usually pay the legal fees and other costs related to your legal defense or legal representation during the proceeding. However, you will most often be required to locate and retain the appropriate attorney to represent you in the matter, even though the insurance company will pay the bills.
What to look for when retaining an attorney to defend you.
1. Seek and retain an attorney who accepts the insurance that you have, whether it is HPSO Insurance, CPH & Associates Insurance, Philadelphia Insurance, 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 had 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 an attorney who will.
2. 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 or the type of hearings involved, it may be difficult for that attorney to get up to speed to represent you properly.
3. If you come across an attorney who states that she or he will help you make a statement to the investigator or assist you in the investigation, but does not appear at hearings, then this is the wrong attorney. You need an attorney that can represent you from start to finish.
4. You also want to retain the services of an attorney who has appeared before your professional board or state licensing authority, in investigations and hearings, especially formal or informal 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 by signing this you will be pleading guilty to whatever offenses are charged. In most cases, you will be innocent and you will need to request a formal administrative hearing in order to prove this, instead of signing the consent agreement (or order).
6. You don’t need an attorney who is located 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 with the agency and, depending on what type of hearing or meeting it is, it could be located in many different locations. Our attorneys will travel to those locations for meetings and hearings with you.
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 plaintiff attorneys, criminal defense attorneys and attorneys who sue insurance companies. Be sure you retain only an attorney who concentrates his or her practice in defending those in the specialty of massage therapy and physical therapy and in board of physical therapy and board of massage therapy complaints, investigations and hearings.
8. If you can’t find an attorney to meet your immediate needs through 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 access a list of professional license defense attorneys online at https://taana.org/referral/
To learn more about Board of Massage Therapy and DOH investigations, click here to read my prior blog.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Massage Therapists.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to massage therapists and physical therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensing matters and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers. We have represented a number of massage therapists and physical therapists who have had summary actions initiated against their massage therapy licenses by the Department of Health (DOH).
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., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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