By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Our attorneys often receive calls from psychiatrists, mental health counselors, social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists and other mental health professionals regarding the possibility of representing them on short notice at a hearing before the Board of Medicine, Board of Psychology, or the Board of Clinical Social, Marriage and Family, and Mental Health Counseling at a deposition related to a health care matter.
Many Other Law Firms Will Not Take Short-Notice Cases.
Many law firms refuse to represent a client at a hearing unless given plenty of advance notice. We would always prefer to have sufficient time to obtain documents, review files, interview witnesses, conduct research and prepare, in order to provide our clients the best possible representation. However, we realize that in certain cases, the alternative is that the client either gets legal representation on little or no advance notice, or has to suffer the consequences of having no legal representation.
It is important to note, if we believe the case is too complex for us to represent you effectively or that any legal representation would be completely futile, we may refuse your case. However, this situation does not occur often.
These Proceedings can be Very Complicated.
Individuals responding to a disciplinary complaint may believe that they can effectively represent themselves. They later find out that they have gotten in over their heads. Laypersons (meaning nonlawyers) who are not aware of such complex matters as the Administrative Procedure Act, the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rules of Evidence, the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) Rules which the Board of Medicine, Board of Psychology, Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling and the Department of Health (DOH) have enacted may quickly be confused. Many times the individual may only figure this out weeks before the final hearing.
The inexperienced individual, or even the inexperienced attorney, in these matters can fall into a number of procedural traps that damage an effective defense. This can be advising the individual to talk to the DOH investigator, filing an unnecessary answer to an Administrative Complaint, forgetting or not knowing that the client’s right to be free of self-incrimination applies in this type of case and others.
Procedural Mistakes Can Be Damaging To Your Defense.
Merely having an experienced attorney to represent you at a hearing or Board meeting will assist you in avoiding mistakes that can harm your case and assist you in preserving your rights for an appeal. For example, many nonlawyers do not know that if you elect an informal hearing before the Board of Medicine, Board of Psychology, or Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling, you have waived your right to prove you are innocent by contesting the facts alleged against you.
What few know is that you can ask at the informal hearing before the Board of Medicine, Board of Psychology, or Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling, to contest the facts, to prove you are not guilty of the charges, and to have the hearing converted to a formal hearing. In a formal hearing you have more procedural rights than you have at an informal hearing. However, we still recommend that you have an experienced health lawyer represent you at a formal hearing.
Check to See If Your Professional Liability Insurance Will Pay for Deposition Coverage.
If you are a psychiatrist, mental health counselor, social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist or other mental health professional who has a professional liability insurance policy, these often provide legal coverage for depositions. This is primarily because the outcome of the deposition may include having you named as a defendant in a professional liability or negligence lawsuit or having disciplinary charges filed against you.
If you receive a subpoena or a notice of a deposition, first contact your professional liability insurance carrier and see if it will pay for an attorney to represent you. For example, Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO), CPH & Associates, Nurses Service Organization (NSO) and many other malpractice insurance companies provide excellent deposition coverage.
The second thing you should do is to call an experienced attorney and schedule a consultation. Even if you cannot afford to retain the services of the attorney for the actual deposition, a consultation may assist you in properly preparing.
Contact A Lawyer Experienced in the Representation of Psychiatrists, Mental Health Counselors, Social Workers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Other Mental Health Professionals.
We routinely provide deposition coverage to psychiatrists, mental health counselors, social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists and other mental health professionals being deposed in criminal cases, negligence cases, civil cases or disciplinary cases involving other health professionals.
The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing psychiatrists, mental health counselors, social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists and other mental health professionals in investigations at the Board of Medicine, Board of Psychology, or the Board of Clinical Social, Marriage and Family, and Mental Health Counseling. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Have you ever had an informal or formal hearing before the Board of Medicine, Board of Psychology, or the Board of Clinical Social, Marriage and Family, and Mental Health Counseling? What was the experience like? 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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