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Got a Letter From the USMLE Secretariat Accusing You of Irregular Behavior on the November 2019 Step 2 CS Exam? You Need Legal Help!

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Have you recently received a letter from the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat or the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) accusing you of irregular behavior? We have recently been made aware of letters being sent out in January to a number of those who took the Step 2 CS Exam in Houston.

Allegations are being made that some of the test takers (and we understand that there were hundreds taking Step 2 CS prep courses and studying before the examination) may have had actual information from the exam that they were sharing.

The USMLE has often made allegations of this nature regarding notes, outlines, and other materials that individual students and study groups have assembled on their own, using their deductive reasoning and experience. They often accuse the students of having obtained the information directly from the tests, which is, of course, a violation of USMLE and ECFMG policies.

You must challenge such allegations of irregular behavior, explain and refute them and request a hearing on them. Otherwise, you are likely to be found guilty of having committed “irregular behavior” which most medical and residency program administrators and directors consider the same as cheating. Furthermore, if that happens, then all of your future transcripts of your USMLE test scores are then stamped with “IRREGULAR BEHAVIOR” and a letter with the charges against you is attached to it. It then goes with the transcripts whenever they are sent out in the future. This could ruin your chances of getting a license, chances of getting a good residency program and could ruin your whole career as a physician.

Other Types of “Irregular Behavior.”

Examples of the types of conduct which we have seen before include:

– Attending a commercial USMLE preparation course that provides some of the actual examination questions.

– Soliciting information on the contents or questions on the examination.

– Using a cell phone during the examination.

– Talking with another person during the examination.

– Sharing information on the types of questions or cases that were on your examination with another person or a blog over the internet.

These are just a few. For more examples, please see another blog I wrote on this by clicking here.

What Should You Do?

What should you do if you find yourself in this situation?

1. First of all, don’t panic. Read the letter carefully and figure out exactly what is being charged against you.

2. Do not delete or destroy any e-mails, test prep materials or study materials you have on your computer. Your attorney may be able to use these to help defend you.

3. Retain the services of a good, experienced health law attorney who is familiar with the USMLE, ECFMG, and the hearings and proceedings these organizations have. By experience, I mean someone who has represented individuals accused of irregular behavior at the hearings held in Philadelphia on this. Retain one right away.

4. Check the background of whatever attorney you consider hiring to make sure he has the experience and has no unfavorable actions against him in his background.

5. Obtain copies of any receipts you may have had for prep courses and prep materials you ordered or took.

6. Your attorney will request a copy of any files or investigation the USMLE or ECFMG has on you so that you can see what you may need to refute.

7. Do not let the time period go by for requesting a hearing and submitting information and documents.

8. Start obtaining character reference letters and copies of any awards, achievements or accomplishments you have.

9. Submit a good, well-organized package of documents to the organization for the hearing.

10. Request an in-person hearing and be prepared to get to Philadelphia a day ahead of time to work with your attorney to prepare for the hearing.

The foregoing are just a few of the many steps that I try to follow in every case.

Our attorneys have represented many individuals in many different hearings, appeals and test challenges over the years. We can help you.

Again, it is crucial to act decisively and act promptly to prove your innocence and preserve your valuable career in medicine. Click here to learn more about how the firm can help you with USMLE and irregular behavior matters.

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education, and those being challenged by the National Board fo Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat , and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters. We routinely help those who have disputes with the National Board fo Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat , and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), including on hearings and appeals concerning “Irregular Behavior,” “unprofessionalism,” and “Irregular Conduct.”

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

KeyWords: Irregular behavior defense lawyer, irregular conduct legal representation, graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“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.

Hospital Countersues FCA Whistleblower for Failing to Report Information Internally

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 13, 2019, a West Virginia hospital facing a whistleblower lawsuit countersued a former employee who filed the False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit against the health system. Wheeling Hospital alleges that the former executive, who is the whistleblower/relator in the lawsuit, breached his fiduciary duty to the company by failing to report the unlawful conduct internally, first. Instead, he used the information as the basis for his whistleblower claim. In the countersuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, the Hospital accuses the former executive-turned-whistleblower of attempting to ‘extort a settlement’ and filing the FCA whistleblower suit as an act of revenge.

The Whistleblower’s Complaint.

The whistleblower, a former accountant, and senior executive at Wheeling Hospital, was discharged in August 2015. In December 2017, he filed a complaint under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA). He alleged the hospital violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) by paying kickbacks to physicians for patient referrals to the Hospital. Based on this, it is alleged, the claims for the services the hospital provided to the referred patients were false claims, subject to recoupment by the government.

The Hospital’s Countersuit.

In an unusual strategy, the Hospital filed a counter-suit against the whistleblower, alleging that he breached his fiduciary duty to the Hospital and abused the legal process. The Hospital’s case asserts that instead of carrying out his duty to the Hospital, instead, he capitalized on his alleged knowledge of the conduct to “extort a settlement” through a “false and frivolous” FCA suit as an act of revenge.

Additionally, the Hospital alleges that “at no time during his employment, or in his role as a partner at Deloitte, did he report any suspicions of fraud or violations of federal regulations to Wheeling Hospital’s compliance officer.”

You can read Wheeling Hospital’s countersuit against the whistleblower on our website in full.

The Significance of This Case: Unique Defense Strategy for Defending a Whistleblower Suit.

This case shows a unique, but legally valid, defense strategy that might be used in other future whistleblower cases. Often the information about false claims is produced by a high-ranking hospital or institutional employees whose job duties may have required them to report what they knew to the company as part of their job. The company should then have the opportunity to investigate and correct any improper billing or other misconduct that an errant employee might be carrying out on his own. By failing to do this, the employee may breach his duties to the company, may violate his employment contract, and may be subject to a suit or counter-suit over this. To the extent that the actions of the ex-employee cause the employer damages, the employer may be entitled to indemnification from the ex-employee.

However, the other side of the story is when an employee does make his or her superiors aware of suspected misconduct and false claims within the company and the company does nothing about it. This is often the case that we have when potential blowers contact us about filing a False Claims Act case. Often the whistleblower attempts to do the right thing by reporting it within the company and is stymied by his or her superiors. To us, this opens the door to legitimate whistleblower suits.

To read one of my prior blogs about South Florida Hospital reaching a settlement for similar FCA
claims, click here.

Click here to learn more about who can file a whistleblower/qui tam lawsuit and the reward programs for coming forward with a false claim.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistleblower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm represent physicians, nurses and other health professionals who desire to file a False Claims Act (whistleblower or qui tam) case. However, the attorneys of The Health Law Firm also defend physicians, medical groups and health facilities that have been sued in False Claims Act (whistleblower or qui tam) cases or have had administrative or civil complaints filed against them to recover civil monetary penalties. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding, and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented doctors, nurses and others as relators in bringing qui tam or whistleblower cases, as well.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Pearlman, Steve and Freeman, Meika. “Top 10 Whistleblowing And Retaliation Events Of The Year.” Law360. (December 20, 2019). Web.

Goldberg, Pinchos. “Hospital Sues Whistleblower for Failing to Report Information And Choosing Instead to Use As Basis for Claim.” JD Supra. (May 8, 2019). Web.

Commins, John. “HOSPITAL COUNTERSUES FALSE CLAIMS WHISTLEBLOWER.” Health Leaders. (May 9, 2019). 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. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: Florida health law attorney, whistleblower attorney, whistleblower defense lawyer, Florida health law defense attorney, whistleblower defense attorney, whistleblower defense legal counsel, legal representation for whistleblower cases, qui tam lawyer, health law attorney, qui tam defense lawyer, qui tam plaintiff lawyer, whistleblower legal representation, False Claims Act lawyer, False Claims Act attorney, False Claims Act legal counsel, The Health Law Firm, DOJ defense lawyer, Office of Inspector General (OIG) defense counsel, Office of Inspector General (OIG) defense attorney, Office of Inspector General (OIG) legal representation, medcila legal defense attorney, health care fraud attorney, health care fraud lawyer, attorney legal representation for qui tam cases, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) attorney, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) lawyer, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) defense counsel, Medicare fraud defense lawyer attorney, Medicare fraud legal representation, Medicaid fraud defense lawyer attorney, legal representation for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, legal representation for Stark Law violations, healthcare fraud defense attorney, whistle blower lawyer attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Florida qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, Colorado qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, Louisiana qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, Kentucky qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, Virginia qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney, Colorado False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer, Louisiana False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties attorney, Kentucky False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney legal counsel, Virginia False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney, Virginia whistleblower lawyer attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney, civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney

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

By |2019-12-30T21:01:42+00:00January 13th, 2020|Categories: Mental Health Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Hospital Countersues FCA Whistleblower for Failing to Report Information Internally

Carole C. SchrieferBy Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D.
On March 13, 2019, a West Virginia hospital facing a whistleblower lawsuit countersued a former employee who filed the False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit against the health system. Wheeling Hospital alleges that the former executive, who is the whistleblower/relator in the lawsuit, breached his fiduciary duty to the company by failing to report the unlawful conduct internally, first. Instead, he used the information as the basis for his whistleblower claim. In the countersuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, the Hospital accuses the former executive-turned-whistleblower of attempting to ‘extort a settlement’ and filing the FCA whistleblower suit as an act of revenge.

The Whistleblower’s Complaint.

The whistleblower, a former accountant, and senior executive at Wheeling Hospital, was discharged in August 2015. In December 2017, he filed a complaint under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA). He alleged the hospital violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) by paying kickbacks to physicians for patient referrals to the Hospital. Based on this, it is alleged, the claims for the services the hospital provided to the referred patients were false claims, subject to recoupment by the government.

The Hospital’s Countersuit.

In an unusual strategy, the Hospital filed a counter-suit against the whistleblower, alleging that he breached his fiduciary duty to the Hospital and abused the legal process. The Hospital’s case asserts that instead of carrying out his duty to the Hospital, instead, he capitalized on his alleged knowledge of the conduct to “extort a settlement” through a “false and frivolous” FCA suit as an act of revenge.

Additionally, the Hospital alleges that “at no time during his employment, or in his role as a partner at Deloitte, did he report any suspicions of fraud or violations of federal regulations to Wheeling Hospital’s compliance officer.”

You can read Wheeling Hospital’s countersuit against the whistleblower on our website in full.

The Significance of This Case: Unique Defense Strategy for Defending a Whistleblower Suit.

This case shows a unique, but legally valid, defense strategy that might be used in other future whistleblower cases. Often the information about false claims is produced by a high-ranking hospital or institutional employees whose job duties may have required them to report what they knew to the company as part of their job. The company should then have the opportunity to investigate and correct any improper billing or other misconduct that an errant employee might be carrying out on his own. By failing to do this, the employee may breach his duties to the company, may violate his employment contract, and may be subject to a suit or counter-suit over this. To the extent that the actions of the ex-employee cause the employer damages, the employer may be entitled to indemnification from the ex-employee.

However, the other side of the story is when an employee does make his or her superiors aware of suspected misconduct and false claims within the company and the company does nothing about it. This is often the case that we have when potential blowers contact us about filing a False Claims Act case. Often the whistleblower attempts to do the right thing by reporting it within the company and is stymied by his or her superiors. To us, this opens the door to legitimate whistleblower suits.

To read one of my prior blogs about South Florida Hospital reaching a settlement for similar FCA
claims, click here.

Click here to learn more about who can file a whistleblower/qui tam lawsuit and the reward programs for coming forward with a false claim.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistleblower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm represent physicians, nurses and other health professionals who desire to file a False Claims Act (whistleblower or qui tam) case. However, the attorneys of The Health Law Firm also defend physicians, medical groups and health facilities that have been sued in False Claims Act (whistleblower or qui tam) cases or have had administrative or civil complaints filed against them to recover civil monetary penalties. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding, and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented doctors, nurses and others as relators in bringing qui tam or whistleblower cases, as well.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Pearlman, Steve and Freeman, Meika. “Top 10 Whistleblowing And Retaliation Events Of The Year.” Law360. (December 20, 2019). Web.

Goldberg, Pinchos. “Hospital Sues Whistleblower for Failing to Report Information And Choosing Instead to Use As Basis for Claim.” JD Supra. (May 8, 2019). Web.

Commins, John. “HOSPITAL COUNTERSUES FALSE CLAIMS WHISTLEBLOWER.” Health Leaders. (May 9, 2019). Web.

About the Author: Carole C. Schriefer is an attorney and registered nurse. She practices with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its regional office is in the Northern Colorado, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 155 East Boardwalk Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525. Phone: (970) 416-7456. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.

Keywords: Florida health law attorney, whistleblower attorney, whistleblower defense lawyer, Florida health law defense attorney, whistleblower defense attorney, whistleblower defense legal counsel, legal representation for whistleblower cases, qui tam lawyer, health law attorney, qui tam defense lawyer, qui tam plaintiff lawyer, whistleblower legal representation, False Claims Act lawyer, False Claims Act attorney, False Claims Act legal counsel, The Health Law Firm, DOJ defense lawyer, Office of Inspector General (OIG) defense counsel, Office of Inspector General (OIG) defense attorney, Office of Inspector General (OIG) legal representation, medcila legal defense attorney, health care fraud attorney, health care fraud lawyer, attorney legal representation for qui tam cases, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) attorney, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) lawyer, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) defense counsel, Medicare fraud defense lawyer attorney, Medicare fraud legal representation, Medicaid fraud defense lawyer attorney, legal representation for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, legal representation for Stark Law violations, healthcare fraud defense attorney, whistle blower lawyer attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Florida qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, Colorado qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, Louisiana qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, Kentucky qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, Virginia qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) qui tam whistle blower lawyer attorney, civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney, Colorado False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer, Louisiana False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties attorney, Kentucky False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney legal counsel, Virginia False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney, Virginia whistleblower lawyer attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney, civil monetary penalties lawyer attorney

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999, and is also a registered service mark.
Copyright © 2019/2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved

By |2019-12-30T20:53:58+00:00December 30th, 2019|Categories: Colorado Health Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

12 Tips on Protecting Your Rights and Defending Yourself Against Irregular Behavior Charges from the USMLE

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

If you are one of those unlucky individuals who have been accused of irregular behavior by the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat, then it is extremely important for you to know this information.

USMLE hearings on irregular behavior are almost always held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before a large committee the committee on individual review or “CIR,” appointed to hear such cases. The committee is composed of medical school professors, doctors, medical school administrators, members of various medical specialty associations, and others. The hearings are held in one of the conference rooms of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Building in Philadelphia.

We routinely represent medical students and graduates who have taken the USMLE Step exams and have later been accused of irregular behavior. This includes hearings, appeals and other legal matters involving the Step Exams, credentials, responding to inquiries about the misconduct of school officials and related matters.

What is Irregular Behavior?

Irregular behavior can include many different types of action. We have seen cases in which someone set the test center building on fire in order to have the test (which was ongoing) canceled with irregular behavior because they wrote on their hand or their arm or ankle during the examination. We have seen individuals charged with irregular behavior because they had handwriting on the bottom of a flip flop or a sheet of toilet paper; we have seen individuals charged with irregular behavior because they used their iPhone during a break or they were not still in medical school on the day the Step exam was given. We have seen those charged with irregular behavior for altering their test scores on their test transcripts, even though they received a passing grade and because they posted “Me too” on a website where someone had asked if anyone had copies of “The Houston Cases” or wanted them.

We have seen those charged with irregular behavior because they posted information on an Internet website that the USMLE thought was too similar to actual test materials. We have seen individuals charged because they used forged documents to obtain access to the test or to apply to monitor’s instructions at the test center. We have seen individuals charged with irregular behavior for sending forged test scores to their medical school. We have seen applicants charged with irregular behavior for not following the monitor’s directions at the test center. We have represented test-takers who were accused of irregular behavior because their test answers were too “statistically similar” to those of another test taker who took the test at a different location and date.

We have represented medical students charged with irregular behavior because they had completed their USMLE applications incorrectly, using the information that their medical school officials had told them to place on the forms. We have represented medical school students charged with irregular behavior because their medical schools had placed the wrong information on their cation forms (note: later the medical school itself was found to have been guilty of irregular behavior by the organization.)

However, allegations of irregular behavior can usually be easily overcome with an explanation of the truth. It is up to you (and us, if you hire us) to present the truth as to what really happened and why it happened.

Although it is our best advice that you retain the services of an experienced health lawyer, specifically one experienced in dealing with the USMLE and in representing applicants in USMLEor

Tips for Preparing for a Hearing Before the Committee on Individual Review of the USMLE.

Following are several of the most important tips we can present on how to best prepare for a hearing before the Committee on Individual Review of charges of Irregular Behavior.

1. Be sure to request a complete copy of the USMLE’s file and work case, including any investigation, incident reports, videos, or other materials, before you file a response, in writing.

2. Be sure that you file your statement, explanation, or other appropriate documents (depending on the facts and circumstances of your case) prior to the deadline given in the initial letter to you. Document its transmission to and receipt by the USMLE.

3. If you need an extension of time, request this in writing prior to the expiration of the deadline given to you in the original letter. Do this in writing and keep a copy.

4. Be sure that you request in writing a hearing and to appear in person at the hearing prior to the deadline given in the initial letter to you. (Note: if are already going to appear at the same hearing meeting, we can give you a discount from our normal legal fees for this representation. Ask about this.)

5. If you are unable to appear in person at the hearing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the date provided in the initial letter, ask that your hearing be postponed until the next available date, and provide good, sufficient reasons why you are unable to attend on the original date given.

6. Be very careful and deliberate about what you state in writing. Any statement you make should be well-organized, professionally prepared, and supported by adequate, relevant, affidavits and documents. This is another reason why you should have an attorney preparing and submitting this for you.

7. In some cases, we recommend hiring an expert to review the case and provide us an expert affidavit to submit. This may be the case when confronted with charges based on statistical analysis, computer systems issue, testing procedures, questionable documents, or other technical matters.

8. Your statement and presentation should directly address the allegations made against you. You are strongly encouraged to review the blog I previously wrote on preparing professional correspondence here.

9. Never lie or submit any false information or documents. The USMLE will thoroughly investigate any suspicious or questionable facts or materials you submit. This can extend to the use of private investigators to locate and interview witnesses, forged documents, or questioned document examiners to analyze documents submitted, and other such methods. Submitting any false information can lead to vastly more severe actions against you.

10. Get prepared for your hearing. Think about and rehearse what you will say. You will be under a lot of stress, in front of about 20 people, most of whom will be asking questions to you. If you are not ready for this, it will be to your detriment.

11. Expect the usual questions. But then, also expect the unusual questions that you may be asked. Plan for what questions may be asked by the Committee members. We always prepare our clients to testify and to be prepared to answer various questions that we know are likely to be asked.

12. Remember that you will be in an unusual, stressful, situation, one which you have probably never experienced before. Plan for this. Obtain as much information about the situation as you can. If you are not used to attending contentious hearings and being cross-examined and interrogated (which 99.9% of doctors are not), then you need to have an experienced attorney sitting next to you.

These are important matters that will affect your future career as a physician. Consider how much in time you have spent and how much in tuition, fees and student loans you have incurred to get this far. Is it smart to scrimp at this point in time and take the cheap way out by either trying to represent yourself or finding a cheap, inexperienced attorney to represent you?

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on the consequences of irregular behavior.

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education, and those being challenged by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat, and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters. We routinely help those who have disputes with the National Board fo Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat , and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), including on hearings and appeals concerning “Irregular Behavior,” “unprofessionalism,” and “Irregular Conduct.”

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

KeyWords: Irregular behavior defense lawyer, irregular conduct legal representation, graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

ECFMG Hearing on Irregular Behavior? Tips on Protecting Your Rights and Preparing

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

If you are one of those unlucky individuals who have been accused of irregular behavior by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), then it is extremely important for you to know this information.

ECFMG hearings on irregular behavior are almost always held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before a large committee appointed to hear such cases. The committee is composed of doctors, medical school administrators, members of various medical specialty associations, and others. The hearings are usually held in a conference room of a large hotel, in closed session (not open to the public).

Since live witnesses (other than yourself) are not permitted, it is very important that any witness testimony of any kind be reduced to writing, preferably in the form of an affidavit, and submitted prior to the deadline you are provided.

Although it is our best advice that you retain the services of an experienced health lawyer, specifically one experienced in dealing with the ECFMG and in representing applicants in ECFMG hearings on irregular behavior, below we have listed helpful tips we have gathered through our years of experience.

The following are some tips to assist in ensuring your rights are protected.

1. Be sure to request a complete copy of the ECFMG’s file and work case, including any investigation, incident reports, videos, or other materials, before you file a response.

2. Be sure that you file your statement, explanation, or other appropriate documents (depending on the facts and circumstances of your case) prior to the deadline given in the initial letter to you. Document its transition and receipt.

3. If you need an extension of time, request this in writing prior to the expiration of the deadline given to you in the original letter. Do this in writing and keep a copy.

4. Be sure that you request in writing a hearing and to appear in person at the hearing prior to the deadline given in the initial letter to you.

5. If you are unable to appear in person at the hearing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the date provided in the initial letter, ask that your hearing be postponed until the next available date, and provide good, sufficient reasons why you are unable to attend on the original date given.

6. Be very careful and deliberate about what you state in writing. Any statement you make should be well-organized, professionally prepared, and supported by adequate, relevant, affidavits and documents. This is another reason why you should have an attorney preparing and submitting this for you.

7. In some cases, we recommend hiring an expert to review the case and provide us an expert affidavit to submit. This may be the case when confronted with charges based on statistical analysis, computer systems issue, testing procedures, questionable documents, or other technical matters.

8. Your statement and presentation should directly address the allegations made against you. You are strongly encouraged to review the blog I previously wrote on preparing professional correspondence.

9. Never lie or submit any false information or documents. The ECFMG will thoroughly investigate any suspicious or questionable facts or materials you submit. This can extend to the use of private investigators to locate and interview witnesses, the use of questioned document examiners to analyze documents submitted, and other such methods.

10. Get prepared for your hearing. Think about and rehearse what you will say. You will be under a lot of stress, in front of about 20 people, most of whom will be asking questions to you. If you are not ready for this, it will be to your detriment.

11. Expect the usual questions. But then, also expect the unusual questions that you may be asked. Plan for what questions may be asked by the Committee members. We always prepare our clients to testify and to be prepared to answer various questions that we know are likely to be asked.

12. Remember that you will be in an alien situation, one which you have probably never experienced before. Plan for this. Obtain as much information about the situation as you can. If you are not used to attending contentious hearings and being cross-examined and interrogated (which 99.9% of doctors are not), then you need to have an experienced attorney sitting next to you.

These are important matters that will affect your future career as a physician. Consider how much time you have spent and how much in tuition, fees and student loans you have incurred to get this far. Is it smart to scrimp at this point in time and take the cheap way out by either trying to represent yourself or finding a cheap, inexperienced attorney to represent you?

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education, and those being challenged by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat, and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters. We routinely help those who have disputes with the National Board fo Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat , and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), including on hearings and appeals concerning “Irregular Behavior,” “unprofessionalism,” and “Irregular Conduct.”

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

KeyWords: Irregular behavior defense lawyer, irregular conduct legal representation, graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Here Are Some Common Sense Tips for Taking Your USMLE Step Exams and Scoring Higher

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

Here are some common-sense tips you should be sure you follow that may help you to reduce stress and score higher when you take your United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step examinations. You should be doing everything within your control to minimize your stress and the risk of being late for the examination. Again, these are common sense and if you have taken a lot of standardized examinations, you may already be aware of these.

1. Do not plan on driving to the test site from your home the morning of the examination even if you leave in the same city as the testing center.

a. Unexpected car problems could occur.
b. Traffic backups and delays always occur.
c. Accidents always happen.
d. Road problems, construction delays, and detours are common.

Eliminate these unnecessary risks.

2. Find the hotel closest to the testing center and stay there the night before the test. Hopefully, this will be within walking distance of the test site if it is necessary to walk there.

3. Read all of the applicable testing procedures, the applicable USMLE and/or Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates ( ECFMG) Handbook, Guidelines and Procedures again the day before the examination you are taking. You signed an agreement to be bound by these and you are expected to know these for the examination. Be sure you understand how scheduled and unscheduled breaks work, how the time is accounted and what you are allowed to do and prohibited from doing on breaks.

4. Make sure you know ahead of time exactly how much time you will be given for each part of the examination and for breaks, Be sure you have calculated how much time you have for each question on each section of the examination, answer within the times you have calculated and move on through the examination in a timely manner.

5. Do not let other occurrences and disturbances in the testing center upset you or distract you.

6. If some extremely disruptive event occurs, for example, fire alarms and evacuations taking place, other examination takers having seizures and being removed by paramedics, etc., consider leaving and taking an incomplete on this examination. Be sure to ask the test center monitors/proctors to file an incident report on what occurred at the test center, Then, within 24 hours, write to the USMLE and ECFMG and advise the organization of exactly what happened and why you had to leave.

7. Bring your own lunch, snacks, and beverages, including something like energy bars or chocolate bars, to provide needed sustenance. Do not leave the testing center for lunch unless you absolutely have to, and then, stay local and on foot. Do not take the risk of driving someplace and back.

8. If a certain testing center has a bad reputation for being a poor testing site or having frequent computer failures, schedule to take the test at a site in another city or state. Travel there and stay at a hotel within walking distance of the test site, perhaps a few days before the examination date. You can then use the additional time and isolation for additional studying and test preparation.

9. Do not refer to or use any cell phone, tablet or personal device while the test is still underway. Be sure you are familiar with all test-taking procedures.

10. To avoid any risks of misunderstandings, do not write down anything during the examination or about the examination at the testing center. Outside during lunch, may be okay; otherwise, wait till you get back home.

Although common sense, you would be surprised at how many test-takers violate these common-sense tips and then suffer from the consequences.

Plan for and have as stress-free of an examination as you can. Control the controllable.

For more helpful tips and to learn more about examples of “Irregular Behavior,” click here to read my prior blog.

Additionally, click here to view one of our blogs on our experience with the USMLE, ECFMG, and NBME, and Hearings on “Irregular Behavior.”

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education, and those being challenged by the National Board fo Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat , and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters. We routinely help those who have disputes with the National Board fo Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat , and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), including on hearings and appeals concerning “Irregular Behavior,” “unprofessionalism,” and “Irregular Conduct.”

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

KeyWords: Irregular behavior defense lawyer, irregular conduct legal representation, graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Many Actions Can Result in Allegations of Irregular Behavior or Irregular Conduct

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

I have written many blogs in the past, on allegations of irregular behavior being brought against medical students, foreign medical graduates and others applying to take examinations to qualify for a medical license in the United States. These have previously focused on charges made by the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Secretariat (an affiliate of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)) and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). In this blog, I will discuss similar allegations made by the National Osteopathic Board of Medical Examiners (NBOME) and the types of actions that are considered “irregular conduct.”

To read several of my prior blogs on these topics, click here to read one on common mistakes made on the USMLE exam or click here to read one on what to do if you receive an inquiry from the USMLE, ECFMG, or NBME.

Charges of “Irregular Behavior” or “Irregular Conduct” Are Similar No Matter What Organization Made Them.

The NBOME is the organization that confirms credentials, tests and regulates osteopathic physicians applying for licenses in the United States.

Like the other organizations mentioned above, it has certain types of conduct (or misconduct) it prohibits that can result in adverse actions being taken against the applicant. The USMLE and the ECFMG refer to these as “Irregular Behavior.” The NBOME refers to these as “Irregular Conduct.” They include, for example, actions that could be termed “cheating” or attempting to gain an unfair advantage on an examination or providing false information on an application.

Irregular Conduct: Definition.

The NBOME defines the term “Irregular Conduct” to include:

any behavior on the part of any candidate [applicant] that violates the integrity or security of the examination, behavior that is disruptive to administration of the examination, or behavior deemed by the NBOME in its sole discretion to be inappropriate in connection with the application, registration, taking, administration, integrity, and security of any NBOME examination.

The key part to this definition is that the NBOME reserves the right to make such determinations “in its sole discretion,” which is a subjective standard that is usually not subject to being second-guessed by a court or other agency.

Examples of “Irregular Conduct.”

The Bulletin of the NBOME provides the following as examples of Irregular Conduct:

1. Copying, fraud, deceit, or other dishonest conduct.

2. Refusal to provide a proper ID or permit photo documentation or other identification for ID verification at any time. Providing false or forged identification upon presentation for testing at a test center. It should be noted that this is to ensure the test-taker is the correct individual and that a “ringer” is not being used.

3. Communication or attempts to communicate with others during the examination other than authorized test center professional staff.

4. Removal of or attempts to remove any test material, scrap paper, or whiteboard from the assigned test area. These organizations are very serious about protecting the integrity of the examination questions and answers, so they go overboard to protect them.

5. Non-compliance with test center rules and regulations and security requirements, including operating test center equipment without reasonable care. This is self-explanatory.

6. Providing or receiving unauthorized information about the content of an examination. We have seen numerous cases of this occurring (or at least being charged against applicants) as a result in participation in Internet listervs and forums on these examinations. Even asking for “cases,” “questions,” or “subjects” from an examination may result in an allegation of irregular conduct.

7. Violation of the NBOME’s non-disclosure or confidentiality policies or the candidate’s non-disclosure agreement.

8. Communication or attempts to communicate about the content, format, or specific test items with another candidate or with any outside source or party (including use of telephones, personal computers, internet access, test review companies, or any other means) at any time, either before, during, or after an examination. See the comments directly above. Posting, downloading or requesting such materials from others has been charged as irregular conduct.

9. Using or having available or access to any unauthorized device, text, notes, or other material that could assist the candidate in taking the examination. Bringing personal property into the test area is considered by the NBOME to violate the security of the examination. This would include, for example, an iPad, smartphone, smartwatch or other types of electronic devices that can access the Internet or notes, “crib sheets,” outlines, or any other type of written assistance.

10. Providing false admittance information or altering applications, score reports, transcripts, or certificates. We have seen an example where an applicant who passed an examination altered his test report to show a higher grade. He was caught, as is usually the case, and received an adverse finding and this was noted on his permanent record with the testing organization.

11. Disrupting another candidate or candidates. This can include, for example, pulling a fire alarm during an examination, setting a fire in the building where the examination is being administered, talking to someone else or any type of noisy or disruptive conduct.

12. At any time (i.e., before, during, or after any examination) verbally or physically harming or threatening to harm the test center professional staff, other examinees, test center employees, or NBOME personnel, representatives or agents, including telephone and in-person encounters regarding scheduling, scores, or score reporting. Although we have never heard of actual cases of most of these types of conduct, we understand that sometimes angry applicants have threatened staff members and personnel. Therefore, one should always be courteous and respectful in all dealings with test center and NBOME staff and personnel.

13. “Unprofessional Conduct” which we will discuss in Part 2 of this blog.

14. Other behavior deemed by the NBOME to be unethical or unprofessional. This is, of course, a “catch-all” provision that allows the NBOME to charge an applicant with just about anything that it believes is irregular conduct.

Unprofessional Conduct and Actions that NBOME can Take.

In Parts 2 and 3 of this blog, I will discuss what the NBOME deems to be “unprofessional conduct” as well as the actions it may take and procedures that apply to an applicant facing such allegations.

Stay tuned for part 2 and part 3!

View Our Other Blogs on Our Experience with the USMLE, ECFMG, and NBME, and Hearings on “Irregular Behavior.”

Our law firm is had a great deal of experience representing students and graduates in disputes with and defending charges of “irregular behavior” against the USMLE, ECFMG and the NBME.

To learn more, read two of my prior helpful blogs here titled, “Medical Students, Interns & Residents Beware: A Finding of “Irregular Behavior” Can Ruin Your Medical Career Before it Starts,” and  “USMLE Hearing? Organization, Timing, and Evidence are Crucial.”

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

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

KeyWords: Graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

The Most Common Cases The Health Law Firm Takes

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

One of the most common questions we get asked by doctors and lawyers alike, is about the types of cases our firm takes. They often mistake the practice of health law as medical malpractice defense. However, this is an incorrect assumption. Likewise, if we had a penny for every time we have heard “Yikes, an attorney! I hope I never need you,” we could close our doors and all retire.

As a general health law practice, we concentrate on both proactive and defensive legal issues and clients involved in the health care industry. To a certain extent our law firm does practically everything a physician, medical group, health facility or health care professional could need in the legal arena.

The types of cases we most commonly see are the following:

1. Sales, mergers and acquisitions of medical practices, health care clinics, and health facilities. We represent buyers, sellers and lenders at any stage of the process.

2. Contracts for medical and health care transactions. We prepare contracts, review contracts, negotiate contracts, help to terminate or break contracts, and we litigate contracts. We can be on either side of these transactions. Our litigation can take place in state court or federal court. We review and analyze quite a few employment contracts for medical residents and fellows going to new positions.

3. We research and prepare complex legal opinion letters on proposed health care transactions. The health care industry is the most regulated industry in the United States. There are complex layers of both federal and state laws and regulations as well as numerous federal and state agencies regulating it. Often, legal opinion letters are sought by purchasers and lenders for healthcare transactions for these reasons. We have several board certified health lawyers in our firm who have written dozens of these.

4. We represent health professionals and health facilities in Medicare audits, including fraud audits by the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs) and by Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs). This includes representation in the appellate process, including requests for reconsideration, request for redetermination, and federal administrative law judge hearings. Preparation of the response to the audit request, completion of the audit questionnaire, response to the preliminary audit report (PAR), and defense of any repayments demanded, through administrative hearings before federal administrative law judges and appeals if necessary.

5. We represent health professionals and health facilities in Medicaid audits, including fraud audits by the zone program integrity contractors (ZPICs). This includes preparation of the initial response to the audit request, completion of the audit questionnaire, response to the preliminary audit report (PAR), and defense of any repayments demanded, through administrative hearings and appeals if necessary.

6. If there has been an action by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to terminate the Medicare provider’s billing privileges, we aggressively represent them to have the decision reversed and have them reinstated. This includes filing requests for reconsideration and corrective action plans (CAPs). We have been very successful in obtaining relief for our clients.

7. We have represented a number of clinical investigators, primarily physicians, and defensive charges of research fraud, misconduct in science, manipulation of data, manipulating outcomes, in research investigations, and other similar proceedings brought by their institutions or and investigation review board. Whether it is at the initiation of such an investigation or in later hearings and appeals, we have navigated a number of principal investigators through these processes.

8. Our firm has represented a number of medical students, residents and fellow, including foreign medical graduates, in cases brought by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) in cases where there is an allegation of “irregular behavior” and rules violations through the hearing process and in appeals as necessary.

9. We represent physicians and other health professionals in hospital medical staff peer review proceedings and hearings. Whether it’s the initial application for clinical privileges and medical staff membership or action being taken to revoke or limit clinical privileges, we have been involved representing physicians and other health professionals at all levels. We have also done similar work for physicians in actions initiated by HMOs, professional associations, certification bodies, and other organizations. This is an area where a physician truly needs a health lawyer experienced in this type of proceeding.
10. “Disruptive physician” defense is another area where a doctor really needs an attorney who knows what he or she is doing. When your hospital or medical staff is attempting to place the label on you “disruptive physician,” you are really in trouble. This is an area in which careful navigation is required to prevent actions that result in such a label. Other wise, the physician can be pigeon-holed for life, placed into disruptive physician programs requiring years, if not a lifetime, of close monitoring and can even have discipline commenced against his or her medical license. We can assist you in taking actions to avoid having this happen.

11. When you receive a Medicare, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or Office of the Inspector General (OIG) subpoena or civil investigative demand (CID), you know there is serious trouble for someone in the works. We help you to respond promptly and professionally and attempt to keep you from becoming the target of serious federal investigations.

12. We represent physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists and other licensed health professionals in responding to Department of Health (DOH) letters of investigation. Many physicians, nurses, dentists and other licensed health professionals do not understand that when they receive a letter from the Department of Health complaints advising them that they are under investigation for a complaint that is been made against them, this is a very serious matter. There is nothing that is “routine” about this. This means that there is an investigation that has been opened against your license that could ultimately result in disciplinary action being taken against you. Any disciplinary action taken against you will be on your license forever. This is the time to obtain an attorney. This is not a time to attempt to represent yourself. You should not ever speak with the investigator or provide a statement to the investigator; this is something only your attorney should do and only if it is determined to be advisable considering the facts of the case. We have represented hundreds of licensed health professionals in such investigations and in subsequent disciplinary hearings.

13. We also represent health professionals and others who have been excluded from the Medicare program and placed on the Office of Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE). We have represented a number of healthcare professionals in completing and submitting applications to be removed from the LEIE and reinstated to the Medicare program.

14. We routinely counsel and represent physicians, dentists, psychologists, mental health counselors, and other health professionals in referrals to the Professionals Resource Network (PRN) for evaluation. We have found that often the health professional will not actually have any type of substance abuse problem or mental health issue. However, one referred for an evaluation to the PRN can wind up in a five year contract or even a lifetime contract for monitoring containing many mandatory requirements in order to continue practicing his/her profession and a lot of expenses associated with meeting such requirements.

15. We also routinely counsel and represent nurses and nurse practitioners (ARNPs), including certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) in similar referrals to the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN). We have found that often the nurse will not actually have any type of substance abuse problem or mental health issue. However, one referred for an evaluation to the IPN can wind up in a five year contract or even a lifetime monitoring contract containing many mandatory requirements in order to continue practicing his/her profession and a lot of expenses associated with meeting such requirements.

16. We have been involved in a number of qui tam or whistle blower cases, either representing the whistle blower or representing an employer or institution that is being accused of wrongdoing. Whether this is pursuant to the Federal False Claims Act (FCA), a state false claims act or a private whistle blower act, we are experienced in investigating, prosecuting, defending, and litigating such cases in state or federal court.

17. Our firm represents physicians, pharmacists, health professionals and health facilities in administrative litigation against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Department of Health, among other agencies. Whether the government agency is seeking to recover civil monetary penalties (CMP), attempting to recover large Medicare overpayments, seeking to revoke your DEA registration or seeking to discipline your medical license, we have experience in litigating such matters in these administrative tribunals. This can make the difference between a favorable outcome or a devastating outcome.

18. We represent Veterans Administration (VA) physicians, Army physicians, Navy physicians, Air Force physicians, and Indian Health Service physicians, in employment disputes, peer review investigations and hearings, clinical privileging investigations and hearings, and decisions to report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

19. Reporting a conviction for Driving under the influence (DUI) or some other criminal offense is required by most state licensing agencies. We are experienced in making such reports when required and in such a manner that a subsequent investigation and discipline on the professional license is often avoided.

20. Complex litigation involving health professionals is another area in which we routinely practice. Whether the matter involves a dispute between the shareholders of a medical clinic or practice, restraints on trade, allegations of false claims and fraud, the enforcement or avoidance of restrictive covenants (or covenants-not-to-compete), employment, pay and bonus disputes, ownership of practices or facilities, or any other of a number of different situations, we represent either side in state court or federal court.

21. Because of our experience in mental health law, we have come to represent individuals who have been incorrectly confined in mental health facilities in Florida because of allegations of impairment, drug abuse, mental health issues and other issues in which the person is initially though to be a threat to himself or to others. Both law enforcement authorities and medical personnel are being trained to take fewer chances with an individual acting unusual who may tend to hurt herself or someone else. They often tend to err to the side of ordering confinement under the Florida Mental Health Act (also known as the “Baker Act”). When this happens, the individual may be set for a long stay unless he or she has assistance in navigating the way out. We help doing this as quickly and expeditiously as possible.
22. We routinely representing physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dentists and other licensed health professionals in attempting to avoid or in disputing or in appealing adverse National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) Reports. There are only limited grounds for doing this so the professional needs to obtain counsel as early in the process as possible.

23. Any type of subpoena or search warrant from a government agency or law enforcement organization seeking your patient records can herald an investigation into false claims, over-prescribing, or other serious possible charges, criminal, civil or administrative. Our representation seeks to determine the reasons for this as early in the process as feasible and to protect your rights and limit your exposure as much as possible.

24. There are many, many other types of cases which we have experience with. To see some of these others, please visit our website.

As the business of health care grows, our law firm also grows. We are always seeking to expand our areas of practice within the health law field. Be sure to check back regularly for updates.

For more information on various health law topics and how The Health Law Firm can help you, visit our YouTube page to watch our video blogs.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) investigations, Medicare Audit defense, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

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., 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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Cheating, Irregular Behavior and Other Challenges Facing Medical Students and Graduates

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

The road to becoming a physician is paved with many unique challenges. The long, exhausting journey begins and students are faced with the first battle: rigorous undergraduate course work, followed by the MCAT and medical school applications. During medical school, and for some, after graduation, the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) and its STEP 1, STEP 2 and STEP 3 exams provide another hurdle in the uphill battle. At any of these stages, medical students can face a gauntlet of accusations including cheating, misrepresentation, falsification of information, unfair advantages and the many faces under the general label of “irregular behavior.”

Challenges Prior to Entering Medical School.

Prior to medical school, pre-med students must be ambitious, inquisitive and extra cautious about any disciplinary action. A minor blemish on a pre-med student’s academic record (from academic dishonesty or other accusations), will become a major red flag once that student begins applying. Not only will any kind of discipline record hinder a student’s chances of acceptance, an infraction can also ruin that student’s reputation as they apply for residency and beyond.

Because the process of becoming a physician is difficult without having a discipline record, any charge against a pre-med student must be taken with the upmost seriousness. Don’t raise a white flag early on in the uphill battle!

Challenges After Medical School.

The battle continues for medical students; medical school courses and clinical rotations will be rigorous and challenging, calling on every neuron you possess to fire efficiently. You will be tested, in more ways than one. You will forget the term “MCAT” and substitute for it a new acronym–“USMLE” which stands for United States Medical Licensing Examination.

The USMLE is a four stage examination required for medical licensure in the United States. Because the USMLE is the barrier between you and your medical license, it is an extremely important component of your medical education.

One such issue is being accused of “irregular behavior.” This broad label includes anything from cheating to disruptions during testing or soliciting information on actual examination content. In the event that your test score is held up or invalidated due to irregular behavior you will want to correct the situation immediately, or you may be prohibited from taking future exams (meaning you won’t be able to obtain your license or a residency in the U.S.). If you are accused of irregular behavior or if you feel that you were faced with inadequate testing conditions, resolving the issue may be as simple as requesting a rescoring of the examination or a retest. Sometimes, because of problems at a test site or because of technical problems, retesting is an option.

The National Board of Medical Examiners and the USMLE take all such matters concerning the administration and the security of the test contents extremely seriously. In ceratin cases, they have sued those they believe may have compromised actual test contents. Click here to read more about the case.

After years of schooling, don’t allow an allegation of irregular behavior to mark your test transcripts and prevent you from attaining your goals and reaping the benefits of your hard work.

To learn more about USMLE, irregular behavior and how we can help you, click here to read one of my prior blogs.  Check our Medical Education Law Blog Regularly to stay on top of news and tips!

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

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

KeyWords: Graduate medical education (GME) defense attorney, international medical graduate attorney, graduate medical education defense lawyer, lawyer for medical students, medical resident physician attorney, residency program legal dispute, residency program litigation, medical school litigation, legal representation for medical residents, legal dispute with medical school, medical students legal counsel, disruptive physician attorney, impaired medical student legal counsel, impaired resident legal defense attorney, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) defense lawyer, USMLE defense attorney, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) defense counsel, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) defense lawyer, ECFMG defense attorney, legal representation for USMLE investigations, legal representation for NBME investigations, legal representation for irregular behavior, irregular behavior defense attorney, irregular behavior defense counsel, health law attorney, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, Philadelphia attorney for ECFMG hearing, Philadelphia lawyer for NBME hearing, Philadelphia legal counsel for USMLE hearing

“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Medical Resident Awarded More Than $400,000 in Hospital Breach of Contract Lawsuit

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

On October 9, 2018, a jury in Michigan federal court awarded more than $400,000 to the parents of an international medical school graduate after finding that Pontiac General Hospital breached their son’s residency program contract. The law suit, which has been described as a “pay for play” case, was first filed in 2017 in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Michigan.

Breach of Contract.

The Canadian family claims the owners of Pontiac General asked for $400,000 in exchange for their son’s acceptance into the facility’s residency program in the fall of 2016. Court records show that the medical graduate received a signed residency contract the same day his father paid the final of three checks. However, it is alleged that soon after paying the fee, the hospital breached the contract by declining to let him start the program, and to add insult to injury, the hospital refused to return the funds.

The eight member jury reached a unanimous verdict and the family was awarded a total of $484,000.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm routinely represent medical students, resident physicians and fellowship physicians, in legal disputes with their medical schools, residency and fellowship programs, and with the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), and legal representation and defense of charges of irregular behavior. This representation includes internal disciplinary and grievance hearings, administrative hearings, due process complaints, academic and conduct committee hearings, appeals, and civil litigation. Click here to learn more about how we can help you in situations like this.

Contact a Health Care Attorney that is Experienced in the Representation of Medical Students, Interns, Residents and Applicants, Fellows and Those Involved in Graduate Medical Education.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent interns, residents, fellows and medical school students in disputes with their medical schools, supervisors, residency programs and in dismissal hearings. We have experience representing such individuals and those in graduate medical education programs in various disputes regarding their academic and clinical performance, allegations of substance abuse, failure to complete integral parts training, alleged false or incomplete statements on applications, allegations of impairment (because of abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol or because of mental or physical issues), because of discrimination due to race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and any other matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

“Pontiac General Hospital ordered to pay over $400K to doctor in pay-to-play lawsuit.” WXYZ News Detroit. (October 9, 2018). Web.

Greene, Jay. “Family wins Pontiac General ‘pay-for-play’ residency case.” Modern Healthcare. (October 15, 2018). 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.

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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.

By |2018-11-27T19:31:12+00:00November 27th, 2018|Categories: Medical Education Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |1 Comment
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