United States Court of Appeals Denies U.S. Nursing Corporations Indemnification Challenge Against Nurse Staffing Agency

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law, and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On May 18, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a U.S. district court’s decision to deny U.S. Nursing Corporation a new trial. The appellate court stated that the opposing counsel’s closing argument and the erroneous preclusion of evidence had no substantial effect on the trial’s outcome; thus, there was no reversible error.
The First Lawsuit.
The original lawsuit filed in state court concerned a patient suing Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., for exacerbating his spinal injury. He claimed that a nurse transported him from a car into the emergency room without first stabilizing and immobilizing him, which caused further damage. When the incident occurred, the nurses on staff were two employees of Appalachian Regional and one supplied by U.S. Nursing Corporation to the hospital.
 The court granted a motion that dismissed the Appalachian Regional nurses as defendants because no evidence in the record alleged that they moved the patient. As the trial neared, the court granted another motion prohibiting the parties from introducing evidence that the Appalachian Regional nurses moved the patient from the truck into the emergency room.
This earlier state court lawsuit concluded with Appalachian Regional Healthcare paying $2 million in settlement and incurring $823,522.71 in legal fees.
It is important to note that when U.S. Nursing supplied its nurse to Appalachian Regional, they entered into an agreement that stated U.S. Nursing would indemnify and defend Appalachian Regional for the negligence of any of its employees assigned to Appalachian Regional. The settlement was reached, Appalachian Regional Healthcare demanded that U.S. Nursing indemnify it, but the staffing company refused to do so. In response, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., sued U.S. Nursing for the $2,823,522.71 state court settlement it paid.
The First Appeal.
In its first appeal, U.S. Nursing argued that the opposing counsel made an inappropriate closing statement when they stated no evidence showed the Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses moving the patient and that U.S. Nursing had not argued that such evidence existed. U.S. Nursing claimed this statement was inappropriate because it was prohibited from admitting evidence that showed Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses having moved the patient. The appellate court decided that U.S. Nursing did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue, so the appellate court remanded to the district court to determine if the error required a new trial.
The nurse staffing company argued that it was incorrectly prohibited from introducing evidence regarding the other nurses on duty and the possibility that they could have been the ones to move the patient. U.S. Nursing also argued that the opposing counsel exploited the court’s error in their closing statements, though the district court never addressed this claim. However, the appellate court asserted that the evidence excluded would not have caused a different outcome at trial, so no new trial was granted.
The Second Appeal.
In its second appeal, U.S. Nursing argued that the district court abused its discretion when it determined the evidentiary error did not affect the trial. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the excluded evidence did very little to support U.S. Nursing’s argument, and excluding this evidence did not affect U.S. Nursing’s substantial rights. However, the court stated that the opposing counsel misled the jury with their statements. The remarks did not constitute an error significant enough to warrant a new trial since Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., was highly likely to prevail, despite counsel’s comments.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals.
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dentists, dental assistants, physicians, physician assistants, mental health counselors, and other health providers. We also provide legal representation for employers in EEOC complaints, workplace discrimination complaints, and suits involving harassment or discrimination complaints. We also provide legal representation in Department of Health, Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing investigations and complaints, DORA investigations and complaints. We provide litigation services in state and federal courts and state and federal administrative hearings.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source:
About the Authors: 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 Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620; Toll-Free (888) 331-6620
Hartley Brooks is a law clerk at The Health Law Firm. She is preparing to attend law school.
Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.
“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 © 2023 George F. Indest III. All rights reserved.
By |2023-08-01T12:01:40-04:00October 4, 2023|Categories: Medical Education Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

United States Court of Appeals Denies U.S. Nursing Corporations Indemnification Challenge Against Nurse Staffing Agency

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law, and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On May 18, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a U.S. district court’s decision to deny U.S. Nursing Corporation a new trial. The appellate court stated that the opposing counsel’s closing argument and the erroneous preclusion of evidence had no substantial effect on the trial’s outcome; thus, there was no reversible error.
The First Lawsuit.
The original lawsuit filed in state court concerned a patient suing Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., for exacerbating his spinal injury. He claimed that a nurse transported him from a car into the emergency room without first stabilizing and immobilizing him, which caused further damage. When the incident occurred, the nurses on staff were two employees of Appalachian Regional and one supplied by U.S. Nursing Corporation to the hospital.
 The court granted a motion that dismissed the Appalachian Regional nurses as defendants because no evidence in the record alleged that they moved the patient. As the trial neared, the court granted another motion prohibiting the parties from introducing evidence that the Appalachian Regional nurses moved the patient from the truck into the emergency room.
This earlier state court lawsuit concluded with Appalachian Regional Healthcare paying $2 million in settlement and incurring $823,522.71 in legal fees.
It is important to note that when U.S. Nursing supplied its nurse to Appalachian Regional, they entered into an agreement that stated U.S. Nursing would indemnify and defend Appalachian Regional for the negligence of any of its employees assigned to Appalachian Regional. The settlement was reached, Appalachian Regional Healthcare demanded that U.S. Nursing indemnify it, but the staffing company refused to do so. In response, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., sued U.S. Nursing for the $2,823,522.71 state court settlement it paid.
The First Appeal.
In its first appeal, U.S. Nursing argued that the opposing counsel made an inappropriate closing statement when they stated no evidence showed the Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses moving the patient and that U.S. Nursing had not argued that such evidence existed. U.S. Nursing claimed this statement was inappropriate because it was prohibited from admitting evidence that showed Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses having moved the patient. The appellate court decided that U.S. Nursing did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue, so the appellate court remanded to the district court to determine if the error required a new trial.
The nurse staffing company argued that it was incorrectly prohibited from introducing evidence regarding the other nurses on duty and the possibility that they could have been the ones to move the patient. U.S. Nursing also argued that the opposing counsel exploited the court’s error in their closing statements, though the district court never addressed this claim. However, the appellate court asserted that the evidence excluded would not have caused a different outcome at trial, so no new trial was granted.
The Second Appeal.
In its second appeal, U.S. Nursing argued that the district court abused its discretion when it determined the evidentiary error did not affect the trial. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the excluded evidence did very little to support U.S. Nursing’s argument, and excluding this evidence did not affect U.S. Nursing’s substantial rights. However, the court stated that the opposing counsel misled the jury with their statements. The remarks did not constitute an error significant enough to warrant a new trial since Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., was highly likely to prevail, despite counsel’s comments.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals.
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dentists, dental assistants, physicians, physician assistants, mental health counselors, and other health providers. We also provide legal representation for employers in EEOC complaints, workplace discrimination complaints, and suits involving harassment or discrimination complaints. We also provide legal representation in Department of Health, Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing investigations and complaints, DORA investigations and complaints. We provide litigation services in state and federal courts and state and federal administrative hearings.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source:
About the Authors: 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 Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620; Toll-Free (888) 331-6620
Hartley Brooks is a law clerk at The Health Law Firm. She is preparing to attend law school.
Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.
“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 © 2023 George F. Indest III. All rights reserved.
By |2023-08-01T11:57:00-04:00September 21, 2023|Categories: Health Facilities Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Nurses: You Must Insure Your Legal Protection

author headshot against a tan backgroundBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

I have news for you:  You need professional liability insurance!  But you only need the kind that includes professional liability insurance coverage, and in the amount of $25,000 or more.

Are you a traveling nurse?  Are you a nurse who works for a hospital or nursing home?  Are you a nurse who works in a doctor’s office?  Are you the nurse who is going to tell me:  “I think I have insurance coverage through my employer?”–WRONG!  Not professional license complaint defense insurance. You need to personally purchase your nursing professional liability insurance containing professional license defense coverage.   If you have yet to purchase this, you don’t have this.

The Insurance Coverage You Really Need.

Though many nurses pursue a career in nursing hoping that they will never face a complaint or disciplinary charges, any event not within a nurse’s control can lead to an investigation or administrative action. Nurses need to ensure they are covered with appropriate insurance if this ever occurs. In our opinion, based on decades of representing nurses, the primary reason that a nurse should purchase a professional liability insurance policy is to obtain coverage for the legal defense against complaints of licensing and disciplinary action commenced against a nurse.

License defense coverage pays the legal fees and costs associated with defending a nurse when an investigation is initiated that may result in action against her nursing license or disciplinary action against the nurse. Coverage is usually available when the nurse receives written notice that an investigation by a state agency has been initiated. It will also cover formal complaints against the nurse, informal hearings before the Board of Nursing, and formal administrative hearings before an administrative law judge. Such investigations, complaints, and administrative action may be opened based on events, including patient complaints, hotline calls, Code 15 reports, nursing home, and home health agency surveys, abuse investigations by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), newspaper articles, copies of lawsuits, and many other sources. It is far more likely that a nurse will be involved in one of these types of actions than being sued for nursing negligence.

You Want Insurance that Meets These Criteria.

Good professional liability policies, which provide coverage for licensure defense, will usually also compensate the nurse for her out-of-pocket expenses (travel, postage, etc.) that she incurs, as well as lost wages because of working time missed for hearings, depositions, etc. However, the maximum coverage available under such policies for licensure defense is usually limited to approximately $25,000. This amount will usually be sufficient to provide for most of the legal fees and costs involved in the defense of such a case.

Crucial to Check and Make Sure That Claims For Insurance Coverage Do Not Have to Be Linked to Malpractice Complaints.

Many professional liability insurance companies try to get off the hook on covering nurses on complaints against the nurse’s license, relying on provisions of the insurance policy that state that any coverage must be based on a claim of nursing malpractice.  AVOID THESE INSURERS AT ALL COSTS.  Most complaints against nurses’ licenses do not involve a claim made for nursing malpractice. To be sure, ask your insurer in writing ahead of time and get the answer in writing.  By the way, you never have this problem with Nurses Service Organization (NSO) Insurance or CPH & Associates Insurance.

Who Files the Most Complaints Against Nurse’s Licenses? Employers.

It has been our experience that most complaints against nurses’ licenses are made by their former employer and/or former recruiting company.  Think about it, is your employer going to pay for insurance that covers you and provides you a defense in the event that the employer files a complaint against your license. The answer is “NO” regardless of what you think.

You are on your own.  Buy your own insurance.  It is very cheap and it will be there when you need it.

Even if the nurse is still employed (unlikely in the vast majority of cases) many employers will not provide legal representation if the matter involves licensing or disciplinary action against the nurse.  This could force the nurse to fund all the fees and costs associated with her defense. However, some larger corporations with sound risk management programs will provide the nurses with legal representation, but this is a rare exception.

For Traveling Nurses and Agency Nurses, Your Own Personal Insurance is a Must.

Suppose you are an agency nurse, a home health agency nurse, a nursing home nurse, an independent duty nurse, or a large hospital chain does not employ you. In that case, you should consider nursing liability insurance mandatory. Complaints of negligence against nurses working in these positions are far more likely. This may be because of the high turnover of nurses in some healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes), or because the nurse is no longer employed at the facility when the investigation begins (for example, in the case of an agency nurse). Additionally, agency nurses may only work in a facility for a short period, making them less familiar with the facility’s policies and procedures and not a part of the permanent team of nurses who may have established relationships and are more likely to cover for each other.

As previously mentioned, several different proceedings may be covered by the licensure defense coverage provided in professional liability insurance.  Defense of accusations of HIPAA privacy breaches is the most used one, followed closely by deposition representation.

The Cost of Professional Liability Coverage is Minimal.

Nurses can purchase liability coverage rather inexpensively. For example, an excellent insurance policy providing coverage for nurses is available through the Nurses Service Organization (NSO) Insurance for less than $100 per year. CPH & Associates Insurance is also inexpensive and competitive.  Professional liability coverage provided by this type of insurance represents a bargain at these rates.

Focusing on Protecting the Nurse’s Individual Interests.

Perhaps most importantly, the nurse should have an attorney focusing only on her interests in defending her against any negligence or licensing complaint. A nurse with her own professional liability insurance coverage will be able to hire a separate, independent attorney, and often, the insurer will allow her to pick her attorney.


Important Considerations When Purchasing Liability Insurance Protection.

First and foremost is to be sure that a claim for defense of your professional license is covered by your insurance even when there is no separate claim or complaint for damages for malpractice or negligence.  Ask your broker or insurer to give you written acknowledgment of this, if your policy is unclear.

A close second is the amount of coverage for license defense that the insurer provides.  $25,000 is the absolute minimum and may not be enough.  Look for $35,000 or $50,000 coverage or buy two different policies from two different companies.

Third is how broad the coverage is and whether it also covers other types of administrative complaints and proceedings that might be brought against you such as discrimination complaints, HIPAA breach of privacy complaints, certification board complaints, and other similar proceedings.

Some professional liability insurers have a “broad form” of coverage which may provide legal defense for the nurse in almost any type of administrative action. This might include, for example, the defense of a discrimination complaint filed against the nurse with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and for Medicare and Medicaid complaints.

Other companies limit coverage to only actions that may result in disciplinary action against the nurse’s license. The nurse should always attempt to get the broadest coverage available for disciplinary defense and licensure defense coverage.

Additionally, the nurse should inquire whether she will be allowed to select her own attorney. Many insurance companies contract certain law firms to provide legal services on their cases for a reduced fee. The insurance company may require you to use one of its own hired attorneys or even one of its in-house attorneys, which it employs directly.

Given the limited number of attorneys with experience handling nursing law issues and malpractice cases, the nurse should attempt to obtain coverage through a company that allows her to choose her attorney.


In Our Opinion, License Defense Coverage Is the Most Important Reason to Purchase Insurance.

The most important reason to purchase professional liability insurance is the licensure defense coverage. A nurse does not want to risk losing her nursing license because she was unsuccessful at defending an investigation complaint against her license or did not have the resources to do so. Since there are far more complaints filed each year against nurses’ licenses than there are nursing malpractice lawsuits filed, it is far more likely that a working nurse will need legal defense of a licensure complaint investigation.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses and nurse practitioners in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, in appearances before the Board of Nursing (BON) in licensing matters, in formal and informal administrative hearings, and in many other legal matters. We represent nurses across the U.S., and throughout Florida.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 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 Avenue, Suite 1000 Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.

“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 © 2023 George F. Indest III.  All rights reserved.

By |2023-09-06T11:46:40-04:00September 6, 2023|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

United States Court of Appeals Denies U.S. Nursing Corporations Indemnification Challenge Against Nurse Staffing Agency

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law, and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On May 18, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a U.S. district court’s decision to deny U.S. Nursing Corporation a new trial. The appellate court stated that the opposing counsel’s closing argument and the erroneous preclusion of evidence had no substantial effect on the trial’s outcome; thus, there was no reversible error.
The First Lawsuit.
The original lawsuit filed in state court concerned a patient suing Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., for exacerbating his spinal injury. He claimed that a nurse transported him from a car into the emergency room without first stabilizing and immobilizing him, which caused further damage. When the incident occurred, the nurses on staff were two employees of Appalachian Regional and one supplied by U.S. Nursing Corporation to the hospital.
 The court granted a motion that dismissed the Appalachian Regional nurses as defendants because no evidence in the record alleged that they moved the patient. As the trial neared, the court granted another motion prohibiting the parties from introducing evidence that the Appalachian Regional nurses moved the patient from the truck into the emergency room.
This earlier state court lawsuit concluded with Appalachian Regional Healthcare paying $2 million in settlement and incurring $823,522.71 in legal fees.
It is important to note that when U.S. Nursing supplied its nurse to Appalachian Regional, they entered into an agreement that stated U.S. Nursing would indemnify and defend Appalachian Regional for the negligence of any of its employees assigned to Appalachian Regional. The settlement was reached, Appalachian Regional Healthcare demanded that U.S. Nursing indemnify it, but the staffing company refused to do so. In response, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., sued U.S. Nursing for the $2,823,522.71 state court settlement it paid.
The First Appeal.
In its first appeal, U.S. Nursing argued that the opposing counsel made an inappropriate closing statement when they stated no evidence showed the Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses moving the patient and that U.S. Nursing had not argued that such evidence existed. U.S. Nursing claimed this statement was inappropriate because it was prohibited from admitting evidence that showed Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses having moved the patient. The appellate court decided that U.S. Nursing did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue, so the appellate court remanded to the district court to determine if the error required a new trial.
The nurse staffing company argued that it was incorrectly prohibited from introducing evidence regarding the other nurses on duty and the possibility that they could have been the ones to move the patient. U.S. Nursing also argued that the opposing counsel exploited the court’s error in their closing statements, though the district court never addressed this claim. However, the appellate court asserted that the evidence excluded would not have caused a different outcome at trial, so no new trial was granted.
The Second Appeal.
In its second appeal, U.S. Nursing argued that the district court abused its discretion when it determined the evidentiary error did not affect the trial. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the excluded evidence did very little to support U.S. Nursing’s argument, and excluding this evidence did not affect U.S. Nursing’s substantial rights. However, the court stated that the opposing counsel misled the jury with their statements. The remarks did not constitute an error significant enough to warrant a new trial since Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., was highly likely to prevail, despite counsel’s comments.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals.
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dentists, dental assistants, physicians, physician assistants, mental health counselors, and other health providers. We also provide legal representation for employers in EEOC complaints, workplace discrimination complaints, and suits involving harassment or discrimination complaints. We also provide legal representation in Department of Health, Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing investigations and complaints, DORA investigations and complaints. We provide litigation services in state and federal courts and state and federal administrative hearings.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source:
About the Authors: 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 Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620; Toll-Free (888) 331-6620
Hartley Brooks is a law clerk at The Health Law Firm. She is preparing to attend law school.
Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.
“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 © 2023 George F. Indest III. All rights reserved.
By |2023-08-01T11:55:12-04:00September 1, 2023|Categories: Dental Law Blog, The Health Law Firm Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Nurses: You Must Insure Your Legal Protection

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

I have news for you:  You need professional liability insurance!  But you only need the kind that includes professional liability insurance coverage and in the amount of $25,000 or more.

Are you a traveling nurse?  Are you a nurse who works for a hospital or nursing home?  Are you a nurse who works in a doctor’s office?  Are you the nurse telling me:  “I think I have insurance coverage through my employer?”–WRONG!  Not professional license complaint defense insurance. You need to personally purchase your nursing professional liability insurance containing professional license defense coverage.   If you have yet to purchase this, you don’t have this.

The Insurance Coverage You Really Need.

Though many nurses pursue a career in nursing hoping that they will never face a complaint or disciplinary charges, any event not within a nurse’s control can lead to an investigation or administrative action. Nurses must ensure they are covered with appropriate insurance if this occurs. In our opinion, based on decades of representing nurses, the primary reason that a nurse should purchase a professional liability insurance policy is to obtain coverage for the legal defense against complaints of licensing and disciplinary action commenced against a nurse.

License defense coverage pays the legal fees and costs associated with defending a nurse when an investigation is initiated that may result in action against her nursing license or disciplinary action against the nurse. Coverage is usually available when the nurse receives written notice that an investigation by a state agency has been initiated. It will also cover formal complaints against the nurse, informal hearings before the Board of Nursing, and formal administrative hearings before an administrative law judge. Such investigations, complaints, and administrative action may be opened based on events, including patient complaints, hotline calls, Code 15 reports, nursing home, and home health agency surveys, abuse investigations by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), newspaper articles, copies of lawsuits, and many other sources. It is far more likely that a nurse will be involved in one of these types of actions than being sued for nursing negligence.

You Want Insurance that Meets These Criteria.

Good professional liability policies, which provide coverage for licensure defense, will usually compensate the nurse for her out-of-pocket expenses (travel, postage, etc.), as well as lost wages because of working time missed for hearings, depositions, etc. However, the maximum coverage available under such policies for licensure defense is usually limited to approximately $25,000. This amount will usually be sufficient to provide for most of the legal fees and costs involved in defending such a case.

Crucial to Check and Make Sure That Claims For Insurance Coverage Do Not Have to Be Linked to Malpractice Complaints.

Many professional liability insurance companies try to get off the hook on covering nurses on complaints against the nurse’s license, relying on the insurance policy’s provisions stating that any coverage must be based on a claim of nursing malpractice.  AVOID THESE INSURERS AT ALL COSTS.  Most complaints against nurses’ license do not involve a claim made for nursing malpractice. To be sure, ask your insurer in writing ahead of time and get the answer in writing.  By the way, you never have this problem with Nurses Service Organization (NSO) Insurance or CPH & Associates Insurance.

Who Files the Most Complaints Against Nurse’s Licenses? Employers.

Our experience has been that most complaints against nurses’ licenses are made by their former employer and/or former recruiting company.  Think about it, is your employer going to pay for insurance that covers you and provides you a defense in the event that employer files a complaint against your license. The answer is “NO” regardless of what you think.

You are on your own.  Buy your own insurance.  It is very cheap, and it will be there when you need it.

Even if the nurse is still employed (unlikely in the vast majority of cases), many employers will not provide legal representation if the matter involves licensing or disciplinary action against the nurse.  This could force the nurse to fund all the fees and costs associated with her defense. However, some larger corporations with sound risk management programs will provide the nurses with legal representation, but this is a rare exception.

Your Own Personal Insurance is a Must for Traveling Nurses and Agency Nurses.

Suppose you are an agency nurse, a home health agency nurse, a nursing home nurse, an independent duty nurse, or a large hospital chain does not employ you. In that case, you should consider nursing liability insurance mandatory. Complaints of negligence against nurses working in these positions are far more likely. This may be because of the high turnover of nurses in some healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes), or because the nurse is no longer employed at the facility when the investigation begins (for example, in the case of an agency nurse). Additionally, agency nurses may only work in a facility for a short period, making them less familiar with the facility’s policies and procedures and not a part of the permanent team of nurses who may have established relationships and are more likely to cover for each other.

As previously mentioned, several different proceedings may be covered by the licensure defense coverage provided in professional liability insurance.  Defense of accusations of HIPAA privacy breaches is the most used one, followed closely by deposition representation.

The Cost of Professional Liability Coverage is Minimal.

Nurses can purchase liability coverage rather inexpensively. For example, an excellent insurance policy providing coverage for nurses is available through the Nurses Service Organization (NSO) Insurance for less than $100 per year. CPH & Associates Insurance is also inexpensive and competitive.  Professional liability coverage provided by this type of insurance represents a bargain at these rates.

Focusing on Protecting the Nurse’s Individual Interests.

Perhaps most importantly, the nurse should have an attorney focusing only on her interests in defending her against any negligence or licensing complaint. A nurse with her own professional liability insurance coverage will be able to hire a separate, independent attorney, and often, the insurer will allow her to pick her attorney.


Important Considerations When Purchasing Liability Insurance Protection.

First and foremost is to be sure that a claim for defense of your professional license is covered by your insurance, even when there is no separate claim or complaint for damages for malpractice or negligence.  Ask your broker or insurer to give you written acknowledgment of this if your policy is unclear.

A close second is the amount of coverage for license defense that the insurer provides.  $25,000 is the absolute minimum and may not be enough.  Look for $35,000 or $50,000 coverage or buy two different policies from two different companies.

Third is how broad the coverage is and whether it also covers other types of administrative complaints and proceedings that might be brought against you such as discrimination complaints, HIPAA breach of privacy complaints, certification board complaints, and other similar proceedings.

Some professional liability insurers have a “broad form” of coverage that may provide legal defense for the nurse in almost any administrative action. This might include, for example, defense of a discrimination complaint filed against the nurse with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and for Medicare and Medicaid complaints.

Other companies limit coverage to only actions that may result in disciplinary action against the nurse’s license. The nurse should always attempt to get the broadest coverage available for disciplinary defense and licensure defense coverage.

Additionally, the nurse should inquire whether she will be allowed to select her own attorney. Many insurance companies contract certain law firms to provide legal services on their cases for a reduced fee. The insurance company may require you to use one of its own hired attorneys or even one of its in-house attorneys, which it employs directly.

Given the limited number of attorneys with experience handling nursing law issues and malpractice cases, the nurse should attempt to obtain coverage through a company that allows her to choose her attorney.


In Our Opinion, License Defense Coverage Is the Most Important Reason to Purchase Insurance.

The most important reason to purchase professional liability insurance is the licensure defense coverage. A nurse does not want to risk losing her nursing license because she was unsuccessful at defending an investigation complaint against her license or did not have the resources to do so. Since there are far more complaints filed each year against nurses’ licenses than there are nursing malpractice lawsuits filed, it is far more likely that a working nurse will need legal defense of a licensure complaint investigation.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses and nurse practitioners in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, in appearances before the Board of Nursing (BON) in licensing matters, in formal and informal administrative hearings, and in many other legal matters. We represent nurses across the U.S., and throughout Florida.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 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 Avenue, Suite 1000 Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.

“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 © 2023 George F. Indest III.  All rights reserved.

By |2023-08-14T14:02:28-04:00August 14, 2023|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

United States Court of Appeals Denies U.S. Nursing Corporations Indemnification Challenge Against Nurse Staffing Agency

Attorney and Author George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law, and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On May 18, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a U.S. district court’s decision to deny U.S. Nursing Corporation a new trial. The appellate court stated that the opposing counsel’s closing argument and the erroneous preclusion of evidence had no substantial effect on the trial’s outcome; thus there was no reversible error.
The First Lawsuit.
The original lawsuit filed in state court concerned a patient suing Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., for exacerbating his spinal injury. He claimed that a nurse transported him from a car into the emergency room without first stabilizing and immobilizing him, which caused further damage. When the incident occurred, the nurses on staff were two employees of Appalachian Regional and one supplied by U.S. Nursing Corporation to the hospital.
 The court granted a motion that dismissed the Appalachian Regional nurses as defendants because no evidence in the record alleged that they moved the patient. As the trial neared, the court granted another motion prohibiting the parties from introducing evidence that the Appalachian Regional nurses moved the patient from the truck into the emergency room.
This earlier state court lawsuit concluded with Appalachian Regional Healthcare paying $2 million in settlement and incurring $823,522.71 in legal fees.
It is important to note that when U.S. Nursing supplied its nurse to Appalachian Regional, they entered into an agreement that stated U.S. Nursing would indemnify and defend Appalachian Regional for the negligence of any of its employees assigned to Appalachian Regional. The settlement was reached, Appalachian Regional Healthcare demanded that U.S. Nursing indemnify it, but the staffing company refused to do so. In response, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. sued U.S. Nursing for the $2,823,522.71 state court settlement it paid.
The First Appeal.
In its first appeal, U.S. Nursing argued that the opposing counsel made an inappropriate remark in their closing statement when they stated no evidence showed the Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses moving the patient and that U.S. Nursing had not argued that such evidence existed. U.S. Nursing claimed this statement was inappropriate because it was prohibited from admitting evidence that showed Appalachian Regional Healthcare nurses having moved the patient. The appellate court decided that U.S. Nursing did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue, so the appellate court remanded to the district court to determine if the error required a new trial.
The nurse staffing company argued that it was incorrectly prohibited from introducing evidence regarding the other nurses on duty and the possibility that they could have been the ones to move the patient. U.S. Nursing also argued that the opposing counsel exploited the court’s error in their closing statements, though the district court never addressed this claim. However, the appellate court asserted that the evidence excluded would not have caused a different outcome at trial, so no new trial was granted.
The Second Appeal.
In its second appeal, U.S. Nursing argued that the district court abused its discretion when it determined the evidentiary error did not affect the trial. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the excluded evidence did very little to support U.S. Nursing’s argument, and excluding this evidence did not affect U.S. Nursing’s substantial rights. However, the court stated that the opposing counsel misled the jury with their statements. The remarks did not constitute an error significant enough to warrant a new trial since Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc., was highly likely to prevail, despite counsel’s comments.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals.
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dentists, dental assistants, physicians, physician assistants, mental health counselors, and other health providers. We also provide legal representation for employers in EEOC complaints, workplace discrimination complaints, and suits involving harassment or discrimination complaints. We also provide legal representation in the Department of Health, Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing investigations and complaints, DORA investigations and complaints. We provide litigation services in state and federal courts and state and federal administrative hearings.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source:
About the Authors: 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 Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620; Toll-Free (888) 331-6620
Hartley Brooks is a law clerk at The Health Law Firm. She is preparing to attend law school.
Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: [email protected] or fax them to (407) 331-3030.
“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 © 2023 George F. Indest III. All rights reserved.
By |2023-07-31T14:04:30-04:00July 31, 2023|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

State Nursing Boards Delay Nursing Licenses Across the U.S. Even As COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

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

Staffing shortages at hospitals across the U.S. are worsening helped along by state boards and other licensing authorities taking months to process nursing licenses, a recent NPR survey claims. As a result, thousands of new nurses who want to help during the COVID-19 pandemic are reportedly getting sidelined by state bureaucratic red tape. Now, it’s resulted in a considerable backlog in nurses waiting for jobs.

State nursing boards are usually created and charged with safeguarding the public. But there are those who claim they have become an obstacle to ensuring public safety by preventing qualified nurses from getting into the workforce. A review of statistics from nursing boards shows that new applications are taking months to be reviewed and approved when basic vetting should take only weeks.

An Investigation Into Nursing Applications.

In 2021, National Public Radio (NPR) examined license applications and found that newly graduated nurses and those moving to new states often get sidelined by state bureaucracies for months, waiting for state approval to treat patients. This is occurring at a time of extreme nursing shortages and increased demand for nurses to work during a pandemic.

Of course, we may have those who want to challenge whether or not there is a pandemic still going on. But we feel that those nurses working in hospitals right now can tell us. We also believe that not enough time has passed since the last wave went over us to state that the pandemic has ended.

The Following are some key findings from NPR’s investigation:

1. How long is too long to wait for your license? Almost one (1) in ten (10) nurses issued new licenses last year waited six (6) months or longer, according to an analysis of licensing records from 32 states. More than a third of these 226,000 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses had to wait at least three (3) months. The processing time varies because each state has its own rules. Generally, state boards have to check a nurse’s education, run a criminal background check, and wait for new graduates to pass a national exam. This all does take time. However, some of the procedures, such as fingerprinting and background checks have speeded up tremendously over the past decade.

2. Applicants are stuck in license limbo. Some state nursing boards blame slow processing times on staff shortages, increased workloads, and remote work. California’s nursing board, for example, has just 47 people on staff handling tens of thousands of applications for licenses. That’s for a state with nearly a half-million RNs. To put it into more perspective, that works out to 10,000 nurses for each employee to assist.

3. When does the clock start? NPR’s investigation found that states often start the clock on processing times only after an application is marked complete. Some nurses NPR spoke with described scenarios where they spent weeks or longer arguing with the licensing authority that their applications were complete. In addition, many state boards don’t count that lost time when measuring how long it takes to process an application.

4. Some states aren’t part of any interstate agreement. Several large states have refused to join the Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows nurses to use licenses across state lines — sort of like a driver’s license lets you drive across state lines. One reason cited for this is that many nursing boards make most of their money, sometimes tens of millions of dollars, just from the licensing fees.

Overall, researchers found that one (1) in ten (10) nurses who received new licenses from nursing boards in 2021 waited six (6) months or longer. More than one-third of the nurses waited at least three (3) months. NPR reported: “[Nurses are] emotionally exhausted. They’re physically exhausted. We add to that the frustration of not being able to get your license,” Betsy Snook, BSN, RN, who is CEO of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, reportedly told NPR.

To learn some helpful tips if you are applying for your nursing license, click here to read my prior blog.

Contact Health Law Attorneys With Experience Handling Licensing Issues.

If you are applying for a nursing or health care license, 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 nurses, physicians, dentists, 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 toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

“Nurses are waiting 6 months or more for licenses despite hospitals’ need for nurses.” Georgia Public Broadcasting. (March 10, 2022). Web.

Fast, Austin. “Nurses are waiting months for licenses as hospital staffing shortages spread.” NPR. (March 11, 2022). Web.

Gooch, Kelly. “Nurse license wait times complicating staffing shortages.” Becker’s Hospital Review. (March 11, 2022). 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 Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 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 © 2022 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2023-07-04T20:02:43-04:00July 6, 2023|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments
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