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 mental health professionals, I have defended clients involved in many different situations. Several of these seem to be problem areas which we see repeatedly.
Following is a list of those problems which it would seem to be common sense for a mental health professional or other health care professional to avoid doing. If you do any of these you can rest assured that you will eventually be confronted with 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.
I can assure you, it is always a bad idea for a mental health professional 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 his or her specialty (e.g., a dentist prescribing antibiotics to her children to treat a cold; a pediatrician prescribing pain medications for an adult; an OB/GYN prescribing antidepressants for a male).
5. Write any prescription for or treat any patient who is in another state when the mental 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 allow a patient to “volunteer” to work in your office.
8. Pre-sign blank prescriptions for your assistant, ARNP, Medical Assistant, receptionist, or anyone else, to complete later.
9. Seek psychotherapy or drug/alcohol abuse treatment with a physician or HCP health professional in your own medical group, institution or the staff of your hospital.
10. Add to, alter or change any medical record entry after you know there may be a claim, investigation or litigation involving it.
11. Take and use your own drug samples provided by pharmaceutical companies.
12. 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.
13. Have a sexual relationship ( including “sexting” or “telephone sex”) with a patient or patient’s immediate family member.
14. 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.
If you find yourself doing any of the items listed above, don’t wait until it’s too late. An experienced health care attorney can help guide and defend against licensing issues including investigations from your state licensing board and the DEA.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Psychiatrists, Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Marital and Family Therapists.
The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to psychiatrists, mental health counselors, psychologists, social workers and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, medical malpractice investigations, business transactions, contracts, structuring business ventures, clinical privileges actions, professional licensure matters, Board hearings, business litigation, Medicare and Medicaid audits, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.
Often the early advice and representation of an experienced health law attorney can help avoid discipline which will be on your record for a lifetime.
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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