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Federal Judge Says Colorado Board of Pharmacy Must Hand Over Patient Identifying Data to DEA

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 22, 2020, a federal judge ordered the Colorado Board of Pharmacy to give the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) prescription drug monitoring program data on two pharmacies that the DEA is investigating. The data includes patient identifying information of more than 14,000 patients. The state must turn over the data by May 15, 2020, according to the order.

Pharmacy Investigations.

Citing concerns about the two pharmacies’ handling of controlled-substance prescriptions, the DEA issued subpoenas under the Controlled Substances Act in 2019. The DEA requested the information as part of an investigation into whether the two unnamed pharmacies broke the law in dispensing opioids and other drugs.

Clash Over Patient Privacy.

The DEA’s requested information is kept under the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program or PDMP. For controlled-substance prescriptions, Colorado pharmacies and pharmacists are required by state law to report information that includes the names of patients, their doctors, and pharmacies.

Colorado state officials refused to release the data citing patient privacy concerns. The DEA’s “overly broad, undifferentiated demand for access would violate the Fourth Amendment right to privacy guaranteed to more than 14,000 patients whose medical data is at issue,” the state said.

According to the order, the Colorado statute allows the prescription-monitoring data to be disclosed but only to specific recipients including in response to law enforcement subpoenas. However, the state argued that the Colorado statute only applies to a “bona fide investigation of a specific individual.”

To read about a similar case involving a DEA investigation into pharmacy prescription practices, click here to read my prior blog.

The Decision.

U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore denied Colorado’s objections to the DEA’s subpoenas for the prescription data including patients’ information such as names, birth dates, and addresses. The judge said the DEA has shown that the requested information is relevant and needed for the ongoing investigation of the two pharmacies, and no warrant is needed to obtain it. The order directs the Colorado Board of Pharmacy and Patty Salazar, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to provide the data to the DEA no later than May 15, 2020.

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

For more information, click here to read the press release issued from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.

States Must Act to Protect the Integrity of Such Programs.

State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) were sold to pharmacists and physicians based on a promise that they were solely for the purpose of protecting patients from overdoses and preventing “doctor shopping” by dishonest, drug-seeking patients. Inherent in these programs was the promise that they would not be used for the purpose of prosecuting or charging physicians or pharmacists, in criminal proceedings or administrative proceedings, based on their contents. Most of the state laws that authorized the creation of PDMPs specifically forbid their use in such cases. This was required in order to get physicians and state medical societies to buy off on them.

Yet here we are. We see this over and over. the Federal government and federal agencies obtaining copies of these reports from the state and using them as direct evidence against physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and pharmacies, despite the prohibition of the state statutes.

Moreover, not only does this subvert the purpose behind creating such databases, but then it runs afoul of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and similar provisions of most state constitutions. The doctor or pharmacist is required by law to report the prescriptions to the PDMP, but then the federal agency turns right around and uses it as evidence against the individual who reported it.

The feds take the position: “We do not care why you, the state, authorized it or what its purpose was supposed to be. If we want to take that information and use it for something else, something that was specifically prohibited by the state, then we will do it.”

Until state pharmacy associations and medical associations do something to tighten up the state legislation that created the PDMPs, this situation is not likely to change. The feds will continue to use the state PDMPs to prosecute and to take administrative actions to revoke the DEA registrations of physicians, pharmacists, pharmacies, and other health professionals.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely provide legal representation to nurses, pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, and other health providers. We provide legal representation for nurses in Board of Nursing investigations and complaints, DORA investigations and complaints, and Department of Health (DOH) investigations and complaints. We defend in state and federal administrative hearings, investigations, and litigation. We also represent health professionals in formal and informal administrative hearings. We have a great deal of experience in defending against DEA actions. We provide legal representation across the U.S., not just in Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 or (970) 416-7456 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Zegers, Kelly. “Colo. Must Give DEA Pharmacy Data With Patient Info.” Law360. (April 20, 2020). Web.

Ingold, John. “Why the DEA is suing Colorado’s pharmacy board as part of an opioid investigation.” The Colorado Sun. (November 11, 2019). Web.

Pazanowski, Mary Ann. “Colorado Pharmacy Board Must Give DEA Patient-Identifying Info.” Bloomberg Law. (April 22, 2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense lawyer, legal representation for administrative hearings, DEA hearing defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) subpoena defense lawyer, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) inspection defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hearing defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) order to show cause (OTSC) defense lawyer, DORA defense attorney, Department of Health defense attorney, Florida Board of Pharmacy defense legal representation, legal defense for pharmacists, pharmacist defense lawyer, board of pharmacy defense lawyer, board of pharmacy hearing legal representation, pharmacy license disciplinary charges defense attorney, legal representation for pharmacist, legal representation for pharmacy, pharmacy defense lawyer, pharmacy audit defense representation, pharmacy audit defense attorney, board representation for pharmacists, board representation for pharmacies, board representation for physicians, board of pharmacy investigation representation, legal representation for board investigations, The Health Law Firm, administrative hearing defense attorney

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

By |2020-06-03T16:42:11-04:00July 1st, 2020|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Emergency Order Allows Florida Pharmacists to Temporarily Order, Administer COVID-19 Tests

Headshot of The Health Law Firm's attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 24, 2020, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he would expand the opportunities for people to obtain COVID-19 tests by allowing licensed pharmacists to order and administer them. For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, Emergency Order 20-006 was filed, suspending section 483.813, Florida Statutes. You can click on the link to read the entire Order.

According to the Order, it was necessary to waive certain statutes and rules of the Florida DOH in order to effectively respond to the emergency caused by COVID-19. Section 483.813, Florida Statutes, requires a pharmacist to be separately licensed to perform a clinical laboratory test. Additionally, section 465.003(13), Florida Statutes, has provisions that prohibit a pharmacist from ordering, administering, or reporting the results of COVID-19 tests, including serology tests, authorized by the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The Emergency Order temporarily sidesteps the law to allow pharmacists to perform these functions.

This suspension of the applicable law applies until the expiration of Executive Order 20-52.

The full version of the Emergency Order may be found on the Florida Board of Pharmacy’s website here as well as on our website here.

It’s important to remember that as with all new guidance and policy changes, it is essential to understand how these changes fit into the existing regulatory frameworks that govern the health care industry.

Consult With A Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

We routinely provide deposition coverage to pharmacists, pharmacies, and other health professionals being deposed in criminal cases, negligence cases, civil cases, or disciplinary cases involving other health professionals.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing physicians, physician assistants, and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of Pharmacy hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Gross, J. Samantha. “Florida pharmacists to be allowed to issue COVID-19 tests, DeSantis says.” Miami Herald. (April 24, 2020). Web.

“Pharmacists Authorized to Order and Administer COVID-19 Testing.” The National Law Review. (April 20,2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida Board of Pharmacy defense representation, legal defense for pharmacists, pharmacist defense lawyer, Board of Pharmacy defense lawyer, Board of Pharmacy hearing legal representation, pharmacy license disciplinary charges defense attorney, legal representation for pharmacist, legal representation for pharmacy, pharmacy defense lawyer, pharmacy audit defense representation, pharmacy audit defense attorney, board representation for pharmacists, board representation for pharmacies, board representation for physicians, Board of Pharmacy investigation representation, legal representation for board investigations, The Health Law Firm, administrative hearing defense attorney, DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense lawyer, legal representation for administrative hearings, DEA hearing defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) subpoena defense lawyer, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) inspection defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hearing defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) order to show cause (OTSC) defense lawyer

“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.

CO Board of Pharmacy Ordered to Give DEA Patient Data

Attorney Carole C. SchrieferBy Carole C. Schriefer, J.D.
On April 22, 2020, a federal judge ordered the Colorado Board of Pharmacy to give the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) prescription drug monitoring program data on two pharmacies that the DEA is investigating. The data includes patient identifying information of more than 14,000 patients. The state must turn over the data by May 15, 2020, according to the order.

Pharmacy Audits and Investigations.

Citing concerns about the two pharmacies’ handling of controlled-substance prescriptions, the DEA issued subpoenas under the Controlled Substances Act in 2019. The DEA requested the information as part of an investigation into whether the two unnamed pharmacies broke the law in dispensing opioids and other drugs.

Clash Over Patient Privacy & Data.

The DEA’s requested information is kept under the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program or PDMP. For controlled-substance prescriptions, Colorado pharmacies and pharmacists are required by state law to report information that includes the names of patients, their doctors, and pharmacies.

Colorado state officials refused to release the data citing patient privacy concerns. The DEA’s “overly broad, undifferentiated demand for access would violate the Fourth Amendment right to privacy guaranteed to more than 14,000 patients whose medical data is at issue,” the state said.

According to the order, the Colorado statute allows the prescription-monitoring data to be disclosed but only to specific recipients including in response to law enforcement subpoenas. However, the state argued that the Colorado statute only applies to a “bona fide investigation of a specific individual.”

To read about a similar case involving a DEA investigation into pharmacy prescription practices, click here to read my prior blog.

The Decision.

U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore denied Colorado’s objections to the DEA’s subpoenas for the prescription data including patients’ information such as names, birth dates, and addresses. The judge said the DEA has shown that the requested information is relevant and needed for the ongoing investigation of the two pharmacies, and no warrant is needed to obtain it. The order directs the Colorado Board of Pharmacy and Patty Salazar, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to provide the data to the DEA no later than May 15, 2020.

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

For more information, click here to read the press release issued from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.

States Must Act to Protect the Integrity of Such Programs.

State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) were sold to pharmacists and physicians based on a promise that they were solely for the purpose of protecting patients from overdoses and preventing “doctor shopping” by dishonest, drug-seeking patients. Inherent in these programs was the promise that they would not be used for the purpose of prosecuting or charging physicians or pharmacists, in criminal proceedings or administrative proceedings, based on their contents. Most of the state laws that authorized the creation of PDMPs specifically forbid their use in such cases. This was required in order to get physicians and state medical societies to buy off on them.

Yet here we are. We see this over and over. the Federal government and federal agencies obtaining copies of these reports from the state and using them as direct evidence against physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and pharmacies, despite the prohibition of the state statutes.

Moreover, not only does this subvert the purpose behind creating such databases, but then it runs afoul of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and similar provisions of most state constitutions. The doctor or pharmacist is required by law to report the prescriptions to the PDMP, but then the federal agency turns right around and uses it as evidence against the individual who reported it.

The feds take the position: “We do not care why you, the state, authorized it or what its purpose was supposed to be. If we want to take that information and use it for something else, something that was specifically prohibited by the state, then we will do it.”

Until state pharmacy associations and medical associations do something to tighten up the state legislation that created the PDMPs, this situation is not likely to change. The feds will continue to use the state PDMPs to prosecute and to take administrative actions to revoke the DEA registrations of physicians, pharmacists, pharmacies, and other health professionals.

Consult With A Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

We routinely provide legal representation to pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians and other health providers. We defend in state and federal administrative hearings, investigations, and litigation. We represent health professionals in formal and informal administrative hearings. We have a great deal of experience in defending against DEA actions.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing physicians, physician assistants and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of Pharmacy hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Zegers, Kelly. “Colo. Must Give DEA Pharmacy Data With Patient Info.” Law360. (April 20, 2020). Web.

Ingold, John. “Why the DEA is suing Colorado’s pharmacy board as part of an opioid investigation.” The Colorado Sun. (November 11, 2019). Web.

Pazanowski, Mary Ann. “Colorado Pharmacy Board Must Give DEA Patient-Identifying Info.” Bloomberg Law. (April 22, 2020). Web.

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

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. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense lawyer, legal representation for administrative hearings, DEA hearing defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) subpoena defense lawyer, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) inspection defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hearing defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) order to show cause (OTSC) defense lawyer, DORA defense attorney, Department of Health defense attorney, Florida Board of Pharmacy defense legal representation, legal defense for pharmacists, pharmacist defense lawyer, board of pharmacy defense lawyer, board of pharmacy hearing legal representation, pharmacy license disciplinary charges defense attorney, legal representation for pharmacist, legal representation for pharmacy, pharmacy defense lawyer, pharmacy audit defense representation, pharmacy audit defense attorney, board representation for pharmacists, board representation for pharmacies, board representation for physicians, board of pharmacy investigation representation, legal representation for board investigations, The Health Law Firm, administrative hearing defense attorney

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

By |2020-06-03T14:53:03-04:00June 10th, 2020|Categories: Colorado Health Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Emergency Order Allows Florida Pharmacists to Order and Administer COVID-19 Tests

Headshot of The Health Law Firm's attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 24, 2020, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he would expand the opportunities for people to obtain COVID-19 tests by allowing licensed pharmacists to order and administer them. For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, Emergency Order 20-006 was filed, suspending section 483.813, Florida Statutes. You can click on the link to read the entire Order.

According to the Order, it was necessary to waive certain statutes and rules of the Florida DOH in order to effectively respond to the emergency caused by COVID-19. Section 483.813, Florida Statutes, requires a pharmacist to be separately licensed to perform a clinical laboratory test. Additionally, section 465.003(13), Florida Statutes, has provisions that prohibit a pharmacist from ordering, administering, or reporting the results of COVID-19 tests, including serology tests, authorized by the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The Emergency Order temporarily sidesteps the law to allow pharmacists to perform these functions.

This suspension of the applicable law applies until the expiration of Executive Order 20-52.

The full version of the Emergency Order may be found on the Florida Board of Pharmacy’s website here as well as on our website here.

It’s important to remember that as with all new guidance and policy changes, it is essential to understand how these changes fit into the existing regulatory frameworks that govern the health care industry.

Consult With A Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

We routinely provide deposition coverage to pharmacists, pharmacies, and other health professionals being deposed in criminal cases, negligence cases, civil cases, or disciplinary cases involving other health professionals.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing physicians, physician assistants, and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of Pharmacy hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Gross, J. Samantha. “Florida pharmacists to be allowed to issue COVID-19 tests, DeSantis says.” Miami Herald. (April 24, 2020). Web.

“Pharmacists Authorized to Order and Administer COVID-19 Testing.” The National Law Review. (April 20,2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida Board of Pharmacy defense representation, legal defense for pharmacists, pharmacist defense lawyer, Board of Pharmacy defense lawyer, Board of Pharmacy hearing legal representation, pharmacy license disciplinary charges defense attorney, legal representation for pharmacist, legal representation for pharmacy, pharmacy defense lawyer, pharmacy audit defense representation, pharmacy audit defense attorney, board representation for pharmacists, board representation for pharmacies, board representation for physicians, Board of Pharmacy investigation representation, legal representation for board investigations, The Health Law Firm, administrative hearing defense attorney, DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense lawyer, legal representation for administrative hearings, DEA hearing defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) subpoena defense lawyer, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) inspection defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hearing defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) order to show cause (OTSC) defense lawyer

“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.

Colorado Board of Pharmacy Ordered to Hand Over Patient Identifying Data to DEA

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 22, 2020, a federal judge ordered the Colorado Board of Pharmacy to give the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) prescription drug monitoring program data on two pharmacies that the DEA is investigating. The data includes patient identifying information of more than 14,000 patients. The state must turn over the data by May 15, 2020, according to the order.

Pharmacy Investigations.

Citing concerns about the two pharmacies’ handling of controlled-substance prescriptions, the DEA issued subpoenas under the Controlled Substances Act in 2019. The DEA requested the information as part of an investigation into whether the two unnamed pharmacies broke the law in dispensing opioids and other drugs.

Clash Over Patient Privacy.

The DEA’s requested information is kept under the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program or PDMP. For controlled-substance prescriptions, Colorado pharmacies and pharmacists are required by state law to report information that includes the names of patients, their doctors, and pharmacies.

Colorado state officials refused to release the data citing patient privacy concerns. The DEA’s “overly broad, undifferentiated demand for access would violate the Fourth Amendment right to privacy guaranteed to more than 14,000 patients whose medical data is at issue,” the state said.

According to the order, the Colorado statute allows the prescription-monitoring data to be disclosed but only to specific recipients including in response to law enforcement subpoenas. However, the state argued that the Colorado statute only applies to a “bona fide investigation of a specific individual.”

To read about a similar case involving a DEA investigation into pharmacy prescription practices, click here to read my prior blog.

The Decision.

U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore denied Colorado’s objections to the DEA’s subpoenas for the prescription data including patients’ information such as names, birth dates, and addresses. The judge said the DEA has shown that the requested information is relevant and needed for the ongoing investigation of the two pharmacies, and no warrant is needed to obtain it. The order directs the Colorado Board of Pharmacy and Patty Salazar, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to provide the data to the DEA no later than May 15, 2020.

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

For more information, click here to read the press release issued from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.

States Must Act to Protect the Integrity of Such Programs.

State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) were sold to pharmacists and physicians based on a promise that they were solely for the purpose of protecting patients from overdoses and preventing “doctor shopping” by dishonest, drug-seeking patients. Inherent in these programs was the promise that they would not be used for the purpose of prosecuting or charging physicians or pharmacists, in criminal proceedings or administrative proceedings, based on their contents. Most of the state laws that authorized the creation of PDMPs specifically forbid their use in such cases. This was required in order to get physicians and state medical societies to buy off on them.

Yet here we are. We see this over and over. the Federal government and federal agencies obtaining copies of these reports from the state and using them as direct evidence against physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and pharmacies, despite the prohibition of the state statutes.

Moreover, not only does this subvert the purpose behind creating such databases, but then it runs afoul of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and similar provisions of most state constitutions. The doctor or pharmacist is required by law to report the prescriptions to the PDMP, but then the federal agency turns right around and uses it as evidence against the individual who reported it.

The feds take the position: “We do not care why you, the state, authorized it or what its purpose was supposed to be. If we want to take that information and use it for something else, something that was specifically prohibited by the state, then we will do it.”

Until state pharmacy associations and medical associations do something to tighten up the state legislation that created the PDMPs, this situation is not likely to change. The feds will continue to use the state PDMPs to prosecute and to take administrative actions to revoke the DEA registrations of physicians, pharmacists, pharmacies, and other health professionals.

Consult With A Health Law Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Pharmacists and Pharmacies.

We routinely provide legal representation to pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians and other health providers. We defend in state and federal administrative hearings, investigations, and litigation. We represent health professionals in formal and informal administrative hearings. We have a great deal of experience in defending against DEA actions.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing physicians, physician assistants and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of Pharmacy hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Zegers, Kelly. “Colo. Must Give DEA Pharmacy Data With Patient Info.” Law360. (April 20, 2020). Web.

Ingold, John. “Why the DEA is suing Colorado’s pharmacy board as part of an opioid investigation.” The Colorado Sun. (November 11, 2019). Web.

Pazanowski, Mary Ann. “Colorado Pharmacy Board Must Give DEA Patient-Identifying Info.” Bloomberg Law. (April 22, 2020). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense lawyer, legal representation for administrative hearings, DEA hearing defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, DEA order to show cause (OSC) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) subpoena defense lawyer, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) inspection defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hearing defense attorney, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) order to show cause (OTSC) defense lawyer, DORA defense attorney, Department of Health defense attorney, Florida Board of Pharmacy defense legal representation, legal defense for pharmacists, pharmacist defense lawyer, board of pharmacy defense lawyer, board of pharmacy hearing legal representation, pharmacy license disciplinary charges defense attorney, legal representation for pharmacist, legal representation for pharmacy, pharmacy defense lawyer, pharmacy audit defense representation, pharmacy audit defense attorney, board representation for pharmacists, board representation for pharmacies, board representation for physicians, board of pharmacy investigation representation, legal representation for board investigations, The Health Law Firm, administrative hearing defense attorney

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

By |2020-06-03T14:43:22-04:00June 3rd, 2020|Categories: Pharmacy Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Florida Pediatric Associates Files Suit For Alleged Non-Compliant EHR Program

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 16, 2020, a pediatrics group in Altamonte Springs, Florida, filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against a health care technology company called Greenway Health LLC (Greenway). Altamonte Pediatric Associates PA (Altamonte Pediatrics) says Greenway sold it an electronic health records (EHR) program that did not comply with federal standards and cost them a bundle in federal incentive payments.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

EHR Compliance.

According to the complaint, Greenway’s Intergy electronic health records software failed to comply with the federal government’s Meaningful Use program that sets nationwide standards for EHR. The errors allegedly cost the pediatrics group at least $68,000 in missed incentive payments from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Altamonte Pediatrics says that in the contract Greenway guaranteed that any systems would “remain compliant with federal regulations,” according to the complaint. Additionally, it claims that Greenway waited more than four months to respond to their communications about the $68,000 in lost incentive payments. When Altamonte Pediatrics they finally did get a response, Greenway allegedly only offered to pay less than half that amount.

Additional Troubles for Greenway.

The lawsuit with Altamonte Pediatrics is not the first time that Greenway has faced legal troubles for its EHR program. In 2019, it paid $57.25 million to resolve a False Claims Act suit alleging that they caused users to submit false claims to the government by misrepresenting the capabilities of its EHR product “Prime Suite.” The government also alleged that Greenway violated the Anti-Kickback Statute by paying money and incentives to its client providers to recommend Prime Suite to prospective new customers. You can read the United States Department of Justice’s press release on this case here for more information.

The DOJ said Greenway got a bogus certification by concealing aspects of its program that were not compliant and set it up so its clients could provide inaccurate data.

The Altamonte Pediatrics group claims the same thing happened to it after Medicaid denied $68,000 in incentive payments for eight of its doctors and nurses due to Intergy’s errors. After it’s FCA settlement in 2019, Greenway assured Altamonte Pediatrics and other customers that it would fix flaws in its EHR programs, according to the suit.

The pediatrics group is asking for actual damages, punitive damages, restitution, and attorney fees and expenses. Click here to read the class action complaint filed by Altamonte Pediatrics.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians and medical groups on EHR issues. It also represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, 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.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Doctors Say Greenway E-Records Software Not Up To Snuff.” Law360. (March 16, 2020). Web.

Simpson, Dave. “Health Records Co. To Pay $57.2M Over FCA Allegations.” Law360. (February 6, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Electronic Health Records (EHRs) litigation, legal representation for EHR matters, EHR legal representation, electronic medical records litigation, legal representation for EMRs, EHR defense litigation lawyer, representation for complex healthcare litigation, legal representation in complex medical litigation, healthcare facility legal representation, legal representation for healthcare investigations, DOJ defense lawyer, representation for DOJ investigations, healthcare fraud defense lawyer, representation for health care fraud, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Anti-Kickback Statute defense attorney, AKS lawyer, representation for AKS matters, AKS defense attorney, False Claims Act defense lawyer, FCA representation, representation for FCA investigations, FCA attorney, DOH defense lawyer, representation for DOH investigations, representation for DOH matters, DOH investigation defense attorney, representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney

“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.

Prosecutors Push to Keep Florida TeleMedicine Suspect in Jail for $424 Million Fraud Scheme

Attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 19, 2020, federal prosecutors in New Jersey federal court pushed to keep a suspect involved in a $424 million telemedicine scheme in jail.  Authorities called him an “unrepentant conman” who carried out one of the largest health care fraud schemes in U.S. history and is likely to flee the country if released.

Telehealth Fraud & Illegal Kickbacks.

The defendant, who owns telehealth companies, has been locked up for nearly 11 months since he was charged last year with running an international fraud and kickback scam. He allegedly paid doctors to order unnecessary orthotic braces for Medicare beneficiaries and solicited bribes and kickbacks from brace suppliers in exchange for patient referrals.

Prosecutors say he went to great lengths to hide his scheme, including lying to obtain legal opinion letters bolstering his claim that he ran legitimate companies that profited from patient subscription fees. In reality, he was concealing the fact that most of those payments were kickbacks from brace suppliers.

A Possible Flight Risk?

In an opposition brief, prosecutors said that there aren’t any suitable bail conditions for the suspect, given his risk of flight and the danger he poses to the community. According to the government, he has a long history of deception and scheming involving foreign businesses, residences, and assets, including a $1 million yacht. Additionally, he claimed to control several foreign bank accounts and once told a cooperating witness that if the government started investigating him, he would flee to Venezuela.

The defendant argued that he’s not a flight risk because he has no criminal history and has close ties to his South Florida community.

Florida’s Involved in a Major Fraud Case, Shocker!

Another scenario that seems to be right out of a Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey novel.  Why does Florida continue to attract and protect the assets fo fraudsters, conmen, and deadbeats?  Does it go back to our history of being the wintering ground for carnies and traveling circuses?

In 2019, the defendant was charged along with 23 other individuals in a crackdown on telehealth fraud schemes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina Texas, Florida, and California, involving over $1.2 billion in losses.

Given his close community ties and its reputation, it comes as no surprise that getting doctors to sign off on fraudulent prescriptions was a part allegedly played by telehealth company owners in Florida. Click here to view the indictment.

For years, Florida has been the home to health care fraudsters and ranked number one in terms of fraud cases. So, it’s not shocking that three Florida telehealth executives were also charged in what appears to be the biggest case in the takedown.
Click here to learn more about this case.

Therefore, to prevent flight and protect the public, prosecutors requested that the Court deny the
defendant’s motion to revoke the detention order and keep him detained. Click here to read the opposition brief.

To read about a similar telehealth case in Florida, click here to read my prior blog.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups, and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers, and acquisitions.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 or (970) 416-7456 or visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bishop, Stweart. “Feds Push To Keep Telehealth Fraud Suspect Locked Up.” Law360. (March 19, 2020). Web.

Godoy, Jody. “Execs, MDs Charged In $1.2B Medicare Fraud Scheme.” Law360. (April 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: Registered agent for telehealth provider, telehealth provider investigation defense lawyer attorney, telemedicine representation, Florida telemedicine defense lawyer, telehealth expansion, representation for telehealth investigations, representation for telemedicine investigations, Florida Department of Health (DOH) representation, DOH defense lawyer, representation for DOH investigations, representation for Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) investigations, AHCA defense lawyer, AHCA investigation attorney, health care defense attorney, health care compliance defense lawyer, Florida health care attorney, representation for health care professionals, defense lawyer for health care providers, doctor lawyer, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Medicare audit defense attorney, Medicare inspection defense lawyer, Medicare subpoena defense lawyer, Medicare search warrant defense attorney, legal representation on Medicare fraud investigation, legal representation for Medicare fraud inspection, Medicare overpayment demand defense attorney, Department of Justice Health and Human Services subpoena defense attorney, legal representation for Department of Justice (DOJ) Health and Human Services subpoena, RAC audit defense attorney, ZPIC audit defense lawyer, Medicare fraud defense attorney, health care subpoena defense 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

Pediatric Group in Florida Claims EHR Program Not Compliant in Suit

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 16, 2020, a pediatrics group in Altamonte Springs, Florida, filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against a health care technology company called Greenway Health LLC (Greenway). Altamonte Pediatric Associates PA (Altamonte Pediatrics) says Greenway sold it an electronic health records (EHR) program that did not comply with federal standards and cost them a bundle in federal incentive payments.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

EHR Compliance.

According to the complaint, Greenway’s Intergy electronic health records software failed to comply with the federal government’s Meaningful Use program that sets nationwide standards for EHR. The errors allegedly cost the pediatrics group at least $68,000 in missed incentive payments from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Altamonte Pediatrics says that in the contract Greenway guaranteed that any systems would “remain compliant with federal regulations,” according to the complaint. Additionally, it claims that Greenway waited more than four months to respond to their communications about the $68,000 in lost incentive payments. When Altamonte Pediatrics they finally did get a response, Greenway allegedly only offered to pay less than half that amount.

Additional Troubles for Greenway.

The lawsuit with Altamonte Pediatrics is not the first time that Greenway has faced legal troubles for its EHR program. In 2019, it paid $57.25 million to resolve a False Claims Act suit alleging that they caused users to submit false claims to the government by misrepresenting the capabilities of its EHR product “Prime Suite.” The government also alleged that Greenway violated the Anti-Kickback Statute by paying money and incentives to its client providers to recommend Prime Suite to prospective new customers. You can read the United States Department of Justice’s press release on this case here for more information.

The DOJ said Greenway got a bogus certification by concealing aspects of its program that were not compliant and set it up so its clients could provide inaccurate data.

The Altamonte Pediatrics group claims the same thing happened to it after Medicaid denied $68,000 in incentive payments for eight of its doctors and nurses due to Intergy’s errors. After it’s FCA settlement in 2019, Greenway assured Altamonte Pediatrics and other customers that it would fix flaws in its EHR programs, according to the suit.

The pediatrics group is asking for actual damages, punitive damages, restitution, and attorney fees and expenses. Click here to read the class action complaint filed by Altamonte Pediatrics.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians and medical groups on EHR issues. It also represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, 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.

Sources:

Bolado, Carolina. “Doctors Say Greenway E-Records Software Not Up To Snuff.” Law360. (March 16, 2020). Web.

Simpson, Dave. “Health Records Co. To Pay $57.2M Over FCA Allegations.” Law360. (February 6, 2019). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Electronic Health Records (EHRs) litigation, legal representation for EHR matters, EHR legal representation, electronic medical records litigation, legal representation for EMRs, EHR defense litigation lawyer, representation for complex healthcare litigation, legal representation in complex medical litigation, healthcare facility legal representation, legal representation for healthcare investigations, DOJ defense lawyer, representation for DOJ investigations, healthcare fraud defense lawyer, representation for health care fraud, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Anti-Kickback Statute defense attorney, AKS lawyer, representation for AKS matters, AKS defense attorney, False Claims Act defense lawyer, FCA representation, representation for FCA investigations, FCA attorney, DOH defense lawyer, representation for DOH investigations, representation for DOH matters, DOH investigation defense attorney, representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney

“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.

Florida Prosecutors Want Telehealth Suspect to Remain in Jail For $424 Million Fraud Scheme

Attorney George F. Indest IIIBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 19, 2020, federal prosecutors in New Jersey federal court pushed to keep a suspect involved in a $424 million telemedicine scheme in jail.  Authorities called him an “unrepentant conman” who carried out one of the largest health care fraud schemes in U.S. history and is likely to flee the country if released.

Telehealth Fraud & Illegal Kickback Scheme.

The defendant, who owns telehealth companies, has been locked up for nearly 11 months since he was charged last year with running an international fraud and kickback scam. He allegedly paid doctors to order unnecessary orthotic braces for Medicare beneficiaries and solicited bribes and kickbacks from brace suppliers in exchange for patient referrals.

Prosecutors say he went to great lengths to hide his scheme, including lying to obtain legal opinion letters bolstering his claim that he ran legitimate companies that profited from patient subscription fees. In reality, he was concealing the fact that most of those payments were kickbacks from brace suppliers.

Is He a Flight Risk?

In an opposition brief, prosecutors said that there aren’t any suitable bail conditions for the suspect, given his risk of flight and the danger he poses to the community. According to the government, he has a long history of deception and scheming involving foreign businesses, residences, and assets, including a $1 million yacht. Additionally, he claimed to control several foreign bank accounts and once told a cooperating witness that if the government started investigating him, he would flee to Venezuela.

The defendant argued that he’s not a flight risk because he has no criminal history and has close ties to his South Florida community.

Florida’s Involved in a Major Fraud Case, Shocker!

Another scenario that seems to be right out of a Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey novel.  Why does Florida continue to attract and protect the assets fo fraudsters, conmen, and deadbeats?  Does it go back to our history of being the wintering ground for carnies and traveling circuses?

In 2019, the defendant was charged along with 23 other individuals in a crackdown on telehealth fraud schemes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina Texas, Florida, and California, involving over $1.2 billion in losses.

Given his close community ties and its reputation, it comes as no surprise that getting doctors to sign off on fraudulent prescriptions was a part allegedly played by telehealth company owners in Florida. Click here to view the indictment.

For years, Florida has been the home to health care fraudsters and ranked number one in terms of fraud cases. So, it’s not shocking that three Florida telehealth executives were also charged in what appears to be the biggest case in the takedown.
Click here to learn more about this case.

Therefore, to prevent flight and protect the public, prosecutors requested that the Court deny the
defendant’s motion to revoke the detention order and keep him detained. Click here to read the opposition brief.

To read about a similar telehealth case in Florida, click here to read my prior blog.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups, and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers, and acquisitions.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 or (970) 416-7456 or visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bishop, Stweart. “Feds Push To Keep Telehealth Fraud Suspect Locked Up.” Law360. (March 19, 2020). Web.

Godoy, Jody. “Execs, MDs Charged In $1.2B Medicare Fraud Scheme.” Law360. (April 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: Registered agent for telehealth provider, telehealth provider investigation defense lawyer attorney, telemedicine representation, Florida telemedicine defense lawyer, telehealth expansion, representation for telehealth investigations, representation for telemedicine investigations, Florida Department of Health (DOH) representation, DOH defense lawyer, representation for DOH investigations, representation for Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) investigations, AHCA defense lawyer, AHCA investigation attorney, health care defense attorney, health care compliance defense lawyer, Florida health care attorney, representation for health care professionals, defense lawyer for health care providers, doctor lawyer, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Medicare audit defense attorney, Medicare inspection defense lawyer, Medicare subpoena defense lawyer, Medicare search warrant defense attorney, legal representation on Medicare fraud investigation, legal representation for Medicare fraud inspection, Medicare overpayment demand defense attorney, Department of Justice Health and Human Services subpoena defense attorney, legal representation for Department of Justice (DOJ) Health and Human Services subpoena, RAC audit defense attorney, ZPIC audit defense lawyer, Medicare fraud defense attorney, health care subpoena defense 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

Will a Death from COVID-19 be Considered “Accidental Death” for Life Insurance Policies or a Death from “Accidental Causes?”

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

Almost all life insurance policies, including term policies, pay a “double indemnity,” that is, double the limits of coverage if a death occurs from “accidental causes” as opposed to “natural causes.”  A question arises, given the COVID-19 pandemic, of whether a death caused by the novel corona versus would be considered a natural death or an accidental death.  Fortunately, there is some guidance on this issue.

One reason it is important to distinguish between “accidental death” and “natural death” is that:

There is no pandemic exclusion for life insurance.  General life insurance covers pandemics, assuming you were truthful about your travel plans and exposure to illness during the application process.  . . . .  An accidental death & dismemberment policy is more limited and covers deaths only when they’re accidental.  It generally doesn’t [usually] cover deaths caused by illness and disease.

Nat’l Ass’n of Ins. Comm’rs, COVID-19 & Ins. (2020), https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/Insurance%20Brief%20-%20Covid-19%20and%20Insurance.pdf. (Emphasis added).

Definition of “Accidental Death”

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, an “accidental death” is defined as:  “A death that results from an unusual event, one that was not voluntary, intended, expected, or foreseeable.”  Accidental Death, Black’s Law Dictionary (4th pocket ed. 2011).  Likewise, Ballentine’s Law Dictionary states than an “accidental death” is:

One that occurs unforeseen, undesigned, and unexpected. 29 Am J Rev ed Ins § 1166.  One which occurs by accident, that is, was not designed or anticipated, albeit it may occur in consequence of a voluntary act.

Accidental Death, Ballentine’s Law Dictionary (3rd ed. 1969).

Under the above two definitions, definitions that are usually considered to come from the common law, death from the COVID-19 virus would be considered to be an “accidental death.”

Look to State Insurance Laws for Definitions.

One should also immediately look at the state’s insurance statutes to see if their state’s law defines “accidental death” in terms of insurance coverage.  As an example, Florida law provides such definitions in Chapter 627 of Florida Statues which deals with insurance contracts.

Section 627.429(5)(c), Florida Statutes, is of particular note.  Regarding death from HIV, for example, it states:

Except for preexisting conditions specifically applying to sickness or medical condition of the insured, benefits under a life insurance policy shall not be denied or limited based on the fact that the insured’s death was caused, directly or indirectly, by exposure to the HIV infection or a specific sickness or medical condition derived from such infection. This paragraph does not prohibit the issuance of accidental death only or specified disease policies.

Section 627.429(5)(c), Florida Statutes (emphasis added).

This is significant because the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a very slow-acting disease that harms one’s immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection.  Death may not occur for years, even decades from an infection.  Whereas, COVID-19 is a fast-acting respiratory virus.  If death from HIV could be considered an “accidental death,” than death from COVID-19 certainly could be classified as “accidental death,” as well.


Legal Arguments for “Accidental Death”

If you have a death in your family and there is life insurance coverage on that person, you should not accept the insurance company’s determination that the death is from “natural causes” as opposed to “accidental death.” Challenge this decision, in court, if necessary.

A death caused by the COVID-19 virus is clearly “from an unusual event.”  I doubt that anyone would even contest this issue.  It is also clearly “one that was not voluntary, intended, [or] expected.”  Again, the novel coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by surprise.  How can anyone in their right mind argue that it was truly “expected.”  “Foreseeable” would be an objective test as to whether this was something “reasonably foreseeable.”  It does not appear, from the shock and unreadiness displayed by state and national governments and health officials, that this event was truly reasonably foreseeable.

I did not foresee it, did you?  If 99.999% of the populace did not foresee it, how can it be argued that it is reasonably foreseeable?  At the very least, this is a jury question and the foregoing should be argued to the jury.  If the average reasonable man (the man who is a legal fiction) did not foresee this pandemic and the deaths that result, how can it not be an “accidental death”?  It seems that any jury would be hard-pressed to find other than an “accidental death.”

 
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals.  This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other healthcare provider. It also includes medical students, resident physicians, and fellows, as well as medical student professors and clinical staff. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers, and acquisitions. The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in complex litigation and both formal and informal administrative hearings. We also represent physicians accused of wrongdoing, in patient complaints, and in Department of Health investigations.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 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 Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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

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