By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
We are sometimes told by the health professionals we represent especially pharmacists, licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs), advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs), massage therapists and physical therapists that after they received a complaint regarding their license from the Florida Department of Health (DOH) they had difficulty finding an experienced attorney in Florida who would accept their professional liability insurance. In this case, I am speaking specifically about Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) Insurance.
HPSO Insurance Helps Cover Costly Legal Fees.
The professionals who are covered by HPSO Insurance have excellent insurance coverage. HPSO Insurance provides professional liability coverage that protects in the event of a lawsuit or negligence claim. But much more often the professional receives a notice of an investigation, a subpoena for a deposition in someone else’s case, a demand because of an allegation of sexual harassment or sexual impropriety, a complaint because of a breach of medical records confidentiality or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy complaint, or some other administrative type of action.
HPSO provides great coverage for these. For example, HPSO currently reimburses up to $10,000 in legal fees and expenses just for representation of you at depositions. HPSO currently reimburses up to $25,000 in legal fees and expenses for your defense in a DOH or Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) notice of investigation or complaint. HPSO currently reimburses up to $25,000 in legal fees and expenses for your legal representation in defense of a complaint or investigation regarding breach of medical confidentiality.
If you are a pharmacist, own a pharmacy, are a massage therapist, own an assisted living facility (ALF), are a mental health counselor or a social worker, or you are one of the many other types of health care professionals who HPSO insures, it should be fairly easy to find experienced health lawyers to represent you, especially in Florida.
Our firm and our attorneys, including George F. Indest III, Michael L. Smith, Joanne Kenna, Carole C. Schriefer, Lance O. Leider, Christopher E. Brown and Danielle M. Murray, routinely represent licensed health care professionals, interns and students in all types of administrative investigations and hearings and in defending lawsuits and other actions that have been filed. We also represent health facilities in license defense, survey complaints and administrative hearings. We represent them throughout Florida, from Pensacola to Jacksonville, to Key West. We also occasionally represent them in other states, as well. We accept HPSO Insurance assignments.
It’s Time to Get Insurance.
It is very important for every health professional to carry insurance that covers any investigation, complaint or administrative hearing that might be filed or opened against your license. You may think that you are covered for this by your employer, but you are not. If your employer contradicts this, ask for a statement in writing that your employer will pay for your legal defense for any such matter arising during your employment.
What typically happens, especially in the case of a hospital employee, nursing home employee, pharmacy employee or corporate employee, is that the employer is the one who terminates the employee and then files a complaint with the DOH. The DOH then opens an investigation against the health professional. The employer is not going to pay your legal defense costs if the employer has reported you.
You may very well be out of work, out of money and face an investigation and complaint that could terminate your professional license and career. You should not take this chance. Insurance such as HPSO Insurance is inexpensive and reliable. Buy it while you can afford it. After the actions have occurred, it is too late.
Contact an Experienced Health Law Attorney if You are Contacted by an Investigator.
Also, you should immediately contact an experienced health law attorney if you are telephoned or visited by any investigator, or if you receive a letter advising you that an investigation has been opened regarding your care. Call immediately for advice before you speak with an investigator or provide any documents or statements of any kind.
You cannot and should not seek “legal advice” on what to do from the investigator, from a DOH employee, from your professional board or from any attorney representing any of them. They are not your friends. They are on the side against you. You should definitely not take any advice from them.
Understand all Insurance Policies are Not the Same.
If you have good insurance, it will pay for your legal expenses from the very beginning, so use it. However, beware of cheap insurance policies from professional associations that do not provide any coverage for disciplinary complaints and licensure investigations. Always check to be sure this is covered. Get it in writing. With some companies you have to pay an extra premium to obtain this coverage. With some insurers, they do not offer it, and you have to purchase a completely separate policy covering just this. It is worth it! Do it!
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.
Our firm regularly represents physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, massage therapists, mental health counselors, registered nurses (RNs), assisted living facilities (ALFs), home health agencies, nurse practitioners, lab technicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, social workers, physician assistants, psychologists and other health professionals in many different legal matters.
Services we provide include representation before your professional board in DOH investigations, in administrative hearings, in civil litigation, in defense of malpractice claims, in professional licensing matters, in defense of allegations concerning HIPAA privacy violations and medical record breaches, in Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) actions, and in many other matters.
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.
Do you have professional liability insurance? Why or why not. Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
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.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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