11th Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects Florida Eye Doctor’s Request for New Medicare Fraud Trial

Headshot of attorney George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On July 31, 2020, a panel of U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal judges upheld a 17-year prison sentence for a Florida ophthalmologist found guilty of Medicare fraud. The three-judge panel rejected an appeal in which Salomon Melgen claimed prosecutors mishandled his 2017 criminal trial.

It upheld the conviction on all 67 counts, deemed the 17-year-sentence to be even-handed, and denied him a new trial.

Details of the Case and Why the Former Ophthalmologist Requested a New Trial.

To understand how the panel reached their decision, it helps to understand the details of the scheme and the accusations. Back in April 2017, a jury in the Southern District of Florida convicted Melgen of carrying out systemic billing fraud at his South Florida medical offices. He stood accused of routinely administering unnecessary, invasive treatments and profiteering off the macular-degeneration drug Lucentis.

Additionally, he was charged with running millions of dollars’ worth of unnecessary diagnostic tests, often using outdated technology that allowed him to bill at higher rates.

According to the opinion, Melgen presented a list of perceived reasons for reversal, including the sufficiency of the evidence and reasonableness of his sentence. He argued that charts comparing his billing rates to his peers were not covered by Federal Rule of Evidence 1006 and, therefore, amounted to inadmissible hearsay in violation of the Confrontation Clause of the U.S. Constitution. To learn more, click here to view his appeal.

Unfortunately for the doctor, the alleged errors in the trial did not persuade the judges.

Other Alleged Errors and How the 11th Circuit Judges Came to Their Decision.

One issue was whether any of the witnesses’ communications with others had tainted their testimony at the trial. In the opinion, the appellate panel stated that Melgen failed to show that the witness interactions affected testimony. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by continuing the trial after the witness intimidation came to light. Lastly, the sentence length the district court imposed was “more than reasonable,” the panel stated.

U.S. Circuit Judge Britt C. Grant, said on behalf of the panel, “The scope of the scheme was easily enough for the jury to conclude that Melgen had engaged in systematic fraud, rather than committing isolated mistakes. We find the evidence sufficient to uphold the jury’s verdict.” You can read the opinion in full here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Optometrists and Ophthalmologists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to optometrists, ophthalmologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid 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.

Sources:

Kapnick, Izzie. “11th Circuit Upholds Doctor’s Massive Fraud Conviction.” Courthouse News. (July 31, 2020). Web.

Jarvis, Sarah. “11th Circ. Won’t Grant Menendez-Linked Doc New Fraud Trial.” Law360. (July 31, 2020). Web.

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 and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

By |2021-02-17T14:01:38-05:00March 17th, 2021|Categories: Medical Education Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Virginia Medical Board Wins Appeal Concerning Doctor’s Revoked Medical License

Headshot of The Health Law Firm's attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On March 21, 2017, a Virginia appellate court ruled that a doctor’s state medical license was properly revoked for various reasons including allowing medical students to perform unauthorized medical procedures. The appellate court said the doctor’s due process rights weren’t violated because he had three months to prepare for an administrative hearing before the Virginia Board of Medicine.

Medical License Was Properly Revoked.

When the doctor originally presented his case in the trial court, the trial judge ruled that Dr. John Hagmann’s constitutional rights were violated. The trial court decided that when the Virginia Board of Medicine denied the doctor’s second request for a postponement of an administrative proceeding it erred. The trial court judge reversed the Virginia Board of Medicine’s decision revoking his license.

The court of appeals later decided that the trial judge’s decision was erroneous and reversed it. The appellate court based its ruling on the fact that Dr. Hagmann had already received one continuance and had more than three months to prepare for his hearing. According to the appellate court, the medical board’s denial of a second continuance didn’t violate Dr. Hagmann’s due process rights.

While teaching courses at a federal military school in 2012 and 2013, Dr. Hagmann allegedly allowed the students to perform invasive medical procedures on himself and on each other. These medical procedures were allegedly unapproved and had no medicinal or therapeutic purposes, according to the medical board.

According to the court’s opinion, Dr. Hagmann was also accused of encouraging students to use alcohol and various drugs in unapproved and dangerous ways. It indicated that he also provided medical treatment, including writing prescriptions, without keeping adequate records.

To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.

Conclusion.

The Virginia appellate court decided that the circuit court, the lower court in the case, erred by substituting its discretion for the Board’s discretion. However, the court of appeal also held that the circuit court did not err in rejecting Dr. Hagmann’s claims that the Board violated his due process rights.

Therefore, the court of appeal reversed the circuit court’s ruling and remanded with directions that the decision of the Medical Board revoking Dr. Hagmann’s license to practice medicine should be reinstated.

To learn more about the consequences of having your professional medical license revoked, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Author’s Comments:

The problem I have with this decision is that the board of medicine usually takes years to investigate such cases. Once the charges are filed, they want to rush to a hearing, often without giving the defense adequate time to prepare. I have experienced this time and time again. It behooves the defense to make a clear record of the time that the port of medicine has had to prepare, the prejudice that will occur to the defense, and the lack of prejudice to the board.

Additionally, since there was a trial in a trial court decision, the trial court judge was in a much better position to weigh the credibility of the witnesses and make the decisions that were made. In a case where there is only been one prior continuance granted, for the appellate court to reverse the trial court judge, seems unfair to me, especially since the result is the revocation of the Doctor’s license. I often refer to this as the “death sentence” for the Doctor’s career. There isn’t a harsher sentence that a board of medicine can give.

Contact Health Law Attorneys With Experience Handling Licensing Issues.

If you have had a license suspended or revoked, or are facing imminent action against your license, it is imperative that you contact an experienced healthcare attorney to assist you in defending your career. Remember, your license is your livelihood, it is not recommended that you attempt to pursue these matters without the assistance of an attorney.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians, dentists, nurses, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues. To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Kang, Peter. “Va. Med Board Wins Appeal Over Doc’s License Revocation.” Law360. (March 21, 2017). Web.

 

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.

 

KeyWords: Legal representation for licensing issues, medical license defense attorney, legal representation for revoked license, legal representation for Board of Medicine investigation, Board of Medicine investigation defense attorney, medical board appeals, legal representation for administrative law hearing, administrative hearing defense attorney, legal counsel for Board of Medicine hearing, legal representation for Department of Health investigations, Department of Health investigation defense attorney, appeal of revocations, legal representation for Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearings, administrative litigation defense attorney, legal representation for Federal Administrative Hearings, legal representation for Formal Administrative Hearings and Informal Administrative Hearings, legal representation for revocation hearings, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Virginia Medical Board Wins Appeal Concerning Doctor’s Revoked Medical License

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On March 21, 2017, a Virginia appellate court ruled that a doctor’s state medical license was properly revoked for various reasons including allowing medical students to perform unauthorized medical procedures. The appellate court said the doctor’s due process rights weren’t violated because he had three months to prepare for an administrative hearing before the Virginia Board of Medicine.

Medical License Was Properly Revoked.

When the doctor originally presented his case in the trial court, the trial judge ruled that Dr. John Hagmann’s constitutional rights were violated. The trial court decided that when the Virginia Board of Medicine denied the doctor’s second request for a postponement of an administrative proceeding it erred. The trial court judge reversed the Virginia Board of Medicine’s decision revoking his license.

The court of appeals later decided that the trial judge’s decision was erroneous and reversed it. The appellate court based its ruling on the fact that Dr. Hagmann had already received one continuance and had more than three months to prepare for his hearing. According to the appellate court, the medical board’s denial of a second continuance didn’t violate Dr. Hagmann’s due process rights.

While teaching courses at a federal military school in 2012 and 2013, Dr. Hagmann allegedly allowed the students to perform invasive medical procedures on himself and on each other. These medical procedures were allegedly unapproved and had no medicinal or therapeutic purposes, according to the medical board.

According to the court’s opinion, Dr. Hagmann was also accused of encouraging students to use alcohol and various drugs in unapproved and dangerous ways. It indicated that he also provided medical treatment, including writing prescriptions, without keeping adequate records.

To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.

Conclusion.

The Virginia appellate court decided that the circuit court, the lower court in the case, erred by substituting its discretion for the Board’s discretion. However, the court of appeal also held that the circuit court did not err in rejecting Dr. Hagmann’s claims that the Board violated his due process rights.

Therefore, the court of appeal reversed the circuit court’s ruling and remanded with directions that the decision of the Medical Board revoking Dr. Hagmann’s license to practice medicine should be reinstated.

To learn more about the consequences of having your professional medical license revoked, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Author’s Comments:

The problem I have with this decision is that the board of medicine usually takes years to investigate such cases. Once the charges are filed, they want to rush to a hearing, often without giving the defense adequate time to prepare. I have experienced this time and time again. It behooves the defense to make a clear record of the time that the port of medicine has had to prepare, the prejudice that will occur to the defense, and the lack of prejudice to the board.

Additionally, since there was a trial in a trial court decision, the trial court judge was in a much better position to weigh the credibility of the witnesses and make the decisions that were made. In a case where there is only been one prior continuance granted, for the appellate court to reverse the trial court judge, seems unfair to me, especially since the result is the revocation of the Doctor’s license. I often refer to this as the “death sentence” for the Doctor’s career. There isn’t a harsher sentence that a board of medicine can give.

Contact Health Law Attorneys With Experience Handling Licensing Issues.

If you have had a license suspended or revoked, or are facing imminent action against your license, it is imperative that you contact an experienced healthcare attorney to assist you in defending your career. Remember, your license is your livelihood, it is not recommended that you attempt to pursue these matters without the assistance of an attorney.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians, dentists, nurses, medical groups, clinics, and other healthcare providers in personal and facility licensing issues. To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Kang, Peter. “Va. Med Board Wins Appeal Over Doc’s License Revocation.” Law360. (March 21, 2017). Web.

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.

KeyWords: Legal representation for licensing issues, medical license defense attorney, legal representation for revoked license, legal representation for Board of Medicine investigation, Board of Medicine investigation defense attorney, medical board appeals, legal representation for administrative law hearing, administrative hearing defense attorney, legal counsel for Board of Medicine hearing, legal representation for Department of Health investigations, Department of Health investigation defense attorney, appeal of revocations, legal representation for Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearings, administrative litigation defense attorney, legal representation for Federal Administrative Hearings, legal representation for Formal Administrative Hearings and Informal Administrative Hearings, legal representation for revocation hearings, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Senate Health Committee Approves Change In Optometrist Certification

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 5, 2017, the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee approved a bill that would allow the Florida Board of Optometry to offer practical and written “certification” examinations to applicants. The bill would assist optometrists who were licensed before July 1993 and, therefore, were not required to be “certified.”

Certified vs. Licensed.

In Florida, the law allows certified optometrists to prescribe pharmaceuticals for the treatment of glaucoma. However, licensed optometrists who aren’t certified cannot prescribe those drugs. They are required to make the public aware by posting in their offices a sign that states, “I am a Licensed Practitioner, not a Certified Optometrist, and I am not able to prescribe ocular pharmaceutical agents.”

Applicants are required to submit proof to the Department of Health (DOH) that she or he meets certain requirements and pass an exam within a specified time frame if they wish to be certified.

The Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously approved the bill (SB 520). To read more on SB 520, click here.
To stay on top of news and regulations for optometrists, check our Vision Law Blog regularly.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Optometrists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to optometrists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, contract matters, business law matters, business litigation 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.

Sources:

Miller, Daylina. “Panel Approves Change In Optometrist Certification.” Health News Florida. (December 6, 2017). Web.

“Panel Approves Change In Optometrist Certification.” WLRN TV. (December 6, 2017). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with 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 Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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