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Dermatologist Pays $1.74 Million Settlement in FCA Suit For Inflated Medicare Claims in Florida

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 13, 2020, a Florida dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon agreed to pay $1.74 million to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act (FCA). United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced that Dr. Thi Thien Nguyen Tran and Village Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, L.L.C. agreed to settle the case involving allegedly inflated Medicare claims. The settlement concludes the qui tam (whistleblowers) civil lawsuit originally filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Alleged Inflated Claims to Medicare.

According to the settlement agreement, from 2011 through 2016, Dr. Tran and Village Dermatology billed for 14,000 tissue transfers, which should have been billed as lower-level wound repairs. These submissions allegedly resulted in inflated claims that Medicare paid at rates higher than it should have paid. The exaggerated claims that were submitted to Medicare were for wound repairs related to Mohs surgery, a common, in-office procedure for dermatologists.

Qui Tam, Whistleblower Provisions.

The suit was originally filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. This law, originally enacted during the Civil War, allows a private citizen to sue on behalf of the United States for false claims the government paid; if successful in recovering money, the whistleblower shares in the recovery. The Act also allows the United States to intervene and prosecute the action. According to the DOJ, the whistleblowers in this suit will receive over $305,000 of the proceeds from the settlement it made with Dr. Tran and Village Dermatology.

This case just shows that even physicians can and should bring such claims and be rewarded for their whistleblowing activities.

To read the press release issued by the DOJ, click here.

Read about a recent case involving FCA allegations by reading one of my prior blogs here.

False Claims Act Cases Can Often be Settled Early and Greater Penalties, Including Prison, Avoided.

This case shows that getting an experienced attorney involved early in the proceedings can lead to a monetary settlement on a case for a much lower price than if it were unnecessarily and aggressively defended. False Claims Act cases carry with them the threat of a possible criminal prosecution which can result in years in prison for a physician. They could also result in civil monetary penalties in the millions of dollars. This is because the government is allowed to pursue treble dames, plus $11,500 (adjusted for inflation), plus attorneys fee and costs, for each claim. Thus, if a physician has only 100 possibly false claims that Medicare paid for $100 each, this could result in over $1,150,300.00, plus attorney fees and costs for them. 1,000 false claims, over $11 million in possible penalties.

If the physician can retain the services of an experienced health lawyer who can negotiate down the amount sought by the government millions of dollars in penalties, legal fees and lost time from medical practice may be achieved. On the other hand, in the right case, if a physician is not guilty of any false billings, these cases can be identified early and a cohesive, organized defense planned early.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam, Whistleblower Cases, and False Claims Act Violations.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm represent dermatologists and other physicians, nurse practitioners and other nurses, and health professionals who need to defend a False Claims Act case, or 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 who 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.

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

Sources:

Pederson, Joe. “Villages doctor agrees to pay $1.7 million to settle False Claims Act Liability after inflating Medicare claims.” Orlando Sentinel. (March 13, 2020). Web.

“Villages doctor agrees to pay $1.7 million to settle False Claims Act after inflating Medicare claims.” MSN News. (March 16, 2020). Web.

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

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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 |2020-05-07T12:54:14-04:00June 18th, 2020|Categories: Mental Health Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

New Campus Sexual Assault Rules Strengthen Rights of the Accused Student in School Hearings

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Education Department finalized a new policy that will reshape the way schools and universities respond to sexual misconduct complaints. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued rules to strengthen the rights of accused students, reduce legal liabilities, and narrow the scope of cases colleges are required to investigate. These investigations and hearing are often called “Title IX investigations and hearings.”

The agency started the overhaul in 2018 after revoking rules from the Obama administration that it says adopted a “failed system” that pressured schools to deny the rights of alleged perpetrators.

A New Sexual-Assault Policy on Campuses.

The policy changes narrow the definition of sexual harassment and require schools and universities to investigate claims only if they’re reported to certain officials. Colleges can be held accountable for mishandling complaints only if they acted with “deliberate indifference.” One of the more hotly contested changes is that students will be permitted to question one another during live hearings.

DeVos also said for the first time that dating violence, stalking, and domestic violence also must be addressed. and she added new language ordering schools to provide special support for victims regardless of whether they file a formal complaint.

Under the new rules, the definition of sexual harassment is narrowed to include “unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” that it denies a person access to a school’s education programs or activity.

The Obama administration used a much broader definition that included any “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

For colleges, the new policy narrows the type of complaints they will be required to investigate. In sharp contrast to the Obama Administration, it orders colleges to pursue cases only if they’re reported to certain campus officials. Additionally, it says schools can choose whether to handle cases in off-campus areas that are outside their “programs or activities.”

Opponents of the law said the Obama rules forced schools to stop sweeping the issue under the rug and survivors will get the message loud and clear that there is no point in reporting assault. In contrast, those supporting accused students said past laws tipped the scales in favor of accusers and caused unfair, hasty actions against the accused.

The changes take effect on August 14, 2020.

Unfortunately, these types of cases are not uncommon on college campuses, which is why this is such a hot button topic. Click here to read my recent blog on a similar case.

It’s About Time.

We have been involved in a number of cases brought alleging sexual harassment, sexual assault, absence of consent, date rape, and other similar allegations, under Title IX. Unfortunately, the deck has been always stacked completely in favor of the person making such accusations and the accused student has been given almost no due process of law rights. It is long past time for a change to these one-sided rules.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys Representing Medical Students, Residents, and Fellows.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents students, including medical students, dental students, nursing students, pharmacy students, resident physicians, and fellows, who have legal problems with their schools or programs. We also represent students, residents, and fellows in investigations, academic probation and suspensions, disciplinary hearings, clinical competence committee (CCC) hearings, and appeals of adverse actions taken against them. The Health Law Firm’s 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:

“New campus sexual assault rules give accused students more rights, Betsy DeVos says.” CBS NEWS. (May 7, 2020). Web.

Binkley, Collin. “New campus sexual assault rules bolster rights of accused.” Associated Press (AP). (May 6, 2020). 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: Legal representation for medical students, Title IX hearing defense attorney, legal representation for Title IX hearing, legal defense in academic hearings, legal representation for nurse practice students, legal representation for nurse anesthetist students, medical student attorney, nurse practice attorney, nurse anesthetist student attorney, medical student legal counsel, nursing student legal counsel, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, education law attorney for health professionals, education law legal counsel for health professional students, education law lawyer for health professional students, academic review hearing attorney, nursing school attorney, medical school lawyer, dental school legal counsel, legal representation for medical students, legal representation for resident physicians, legal representation for fellows, academic review hearing defense attorney, medical resident 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.

Florida Dermatologist Pays $1.74 Million To Settle Medicaid FCA 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 13, 2020, a Florida dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon agreed to pay $1.74 million to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act (FCA). United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced that Dr. Thi Thien Nguyen Tran and Village Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, L.L.C. agreed to settle the case involving allegedly inflated Medicare claims. The settlement concludes the qui tam (whistleblowers) civil lawsuit originally filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Inflated Claims to Medicare Alleged in Suit.

According to the settlement agreement, from 2011 through 2016, Dr. Tran and Village Dermatology billed for 14,000 tissue transfers, which should have been billed as lower-level wound repairs. These submissions allegedly resulted in inflated claims that Medicare paid at rates higher than it should have paid. The exaggerated claims that were submitted to Medicare were for wound repairs related to Mohs surgery, a common, in-office procedure for dermatologists.

Qui Tam, Whistleblower Provisions.

The suit was originally filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. This law, originally enacted during the Civil War, allows a private citizen to sue on behalf of the United States for false claims the government paid; if successful in recovering money, the whistleblower shares in the recovery. The Act also allows the United States to intervene and prosecute the action. According to the DOJ, the whistleblowers in this suit will receive over $305,000 of the proceeds from the settlement it made with Dr. Tran and Village Dermatology.

This case just shows that even physicians can and should bring such claims and be rewarded for their whistleblowing activities.

To read the press release issued by the DOJ, click here.

Read about a recent case involving FCA allegations by reading one of my prior blogs here.

False Claims Act Cases Can Often be Settled Early and Greater Penalties, Including Prison, Avoided.

This case shows that getting an experienced attorney involved early in the proceedings can lead to a monetary settlement on a case for a much lower price than if it were unnecessarily and aggressively defended. False Claims Act cases carry with them the threat of a possible criminal prosecution which can result in years in prison for a physician. They could also result in civil monetary penalties in the millions of dollars. This is because the government is allowed to pursue treble dames, plus $11,500 (adjusted for inflation), plus attorneys fee and costs, for each claim. Thus, if a physician has only 100 possibly false claims that Medicare paid for $100 each, this could result in over $1,150,300.00, plus attorney fees and costs for them. 1,000 false claims, over $11 million in possible penalties.

If the physician can retain the services of an experienced health lawyer who can negotiate down the amount sought by the government millions of dollars in penalties, legal fees and lost time from medical practice may be achieved. On the other hand, in the right case, if a physician is not guilty of any false billings, these cases can be identified early and a cohesive, organized defense planned early.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam, Whistleblower Cases, and False Claims Act Violations.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm represent dermatologists and other physicians, nurse practitioners and other nurses, and health professionals who need to defend a False Claims Act case, or 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 who 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.

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

Sources:

Pederson, Joe. “Villages doctor agrees to pay $1.7 million to settle False Claims Act Liability after inflating Medicare claims.” Orlando Sentinel. (March 13, 2020). Web.

“Villages doctor agrees to pay $1.7 million to settle False Claims Act after inflating Medicare claims.” MSN News. (March 16, 2020). Web.

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

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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 |2020-05-07T12:48:38-04:00May 28th, 2020|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Government Deems Marijuana Dispensaries ‘Essential’ During COVID-19 Shutdowns

By Carole C. Schriefer, J.D.
On March 17, 2020, amid Coronavirus shutdowns, multiple cities and state health departments have declared medical marijuana dispensaries essential to health care. Many cities are closing or considering closing business and retail operations to stop the spread of the virus. Other “essential” businesses that will remain open include pharmacies, grocery stores, and financial institutions.
As of this date (3/23/2020), Florida still has not joined the ones declaring them to be essential.


“Marijuana is Essential Medicine for Many.”

After residents were told to stay home, a number of cities, including Colorado, revised their position in other states and deemed cannabis “an essential medicine,” allowing stores to stay open. Read Colorado’s Essential Business Order and Public Health guidance.

San Fransico’s Mayor London Breed announced adjustments to the city’s public health order clarifying that dispensaries and marijuana deliveries are critical. “In terms of the cannabis dispensaries, the Department of Public Health [in California] today clarified that since cannabis has medical uses, dispensaries will be allowed to operate as essential businesses, just as pharmacies are allowed to do,” she added.

According to the New York State Department of Health, “In the event nonessential businesses are forced to shut down due to COVID-19, registered organizations in the medical marijuana program will be considered essential and allowed to remain open because they are considered medical providers.” Read the guidance issued by the state of New York.

Following right along, Illinois’ Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued new, temporary guidelines, relaxing where medical marijuana sales can take place in order to “help reduce contact between individuals.” The state will allow medical dispensaries to sell cannabis “on the dispensary’s property or on a public walkway or curb adjacent to the dispensary.”  Read the temporary guidance issued by Illinois.

In addition, other states, such as Michigan, Massachusetts, and Washington have issued bulletins relaxing regulations regarding delivery and in-store transactions in order to limit contact between patients and vendors.

What Will Florida Do?

The question is, will Florida and other states continue to follow suit if necessary? On March 16, 2020, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted Emergency Order 20-002 to temporarily allow qualified physicians to use telemedicine. However, so far, there has not been any guidance issued specifically on medical marijuana dispensaries. View Florida’s Emergency Order 20-002.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists, and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly help to complete and submit the applications for renewals, registration, permitting, and/or licensing, complying with Florida law. We also represent health facilities, health clinics, and pharmacies facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

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

Sources:

Booker, Brakkton. “Amid Coronavirus, San Francisco, New York, Deem Marijuana Businesses ‘Essential’.” NPR. (March 17, 2020). Web.

Reisman, Sam. “Medical Pot Deemed ‘Essential’ Amid COVID-19 Shutdowns.” Law360. (March 17, 2020). Web.

Smith, Jeff. “Medical cannabis businesses increasingly deemed ‘essential’ during coronavirus pandemic.” Med Biz Daily. (March 18, 2020). Web.

About the Author: 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. 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 medical marijuana center regulations and legislation, Florida medical marijuana treatment center representation, medical marijuana regulation attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, legal representation for medical marijuana issues, Florida health care business application attorney, health law defense attorney, health lawyers for marijuana distributors in Florida and Colorado, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors in Florida and Colorado, Florida health facility legal representation, Florida health facility defense attorney, health facility defense lawyer in Florida and Colorado, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm Attorneys, Florida and Colorado administrative hearing defense legal representation, administrative hearing defense attorney in Colorado and Florida, administrative hearing defense lawyer in Florida and Colorado, Florida and Colorado medical administrative regulation attorney, formal administrative hearing defense attorney in Colorado and Florida

“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.

Dermatologist in Florida Agrees to Pay $1.74 Million To Settle Medicaid FCA 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 13, 2020, a Florida dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon agreed to pay $1.74 million to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act (FCA). United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced that Dr. Thi Thien Nguyen Tran and Village Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, L.L.C. agreed to settle the case involving allegedly inflated Medicare claims. The settlement concludes the qui tam (whistleblowers) civil lawsuit originally filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Inflated Claims to Medicare Claimed in Suit.

According to the settlement agreement, from 2011 through 2016, Dr. Tran and Village Dermatology billed for 14,000 tissue transfers, which should have been billed as lower-level wound repairs. These submissions allegedly resulted in inflated claims that Medicare paid at rates higher than it should have paid. The exaggerated claims that were submitted to Medicare were for wound repairs related to Mohs surgery, a common, in-office procedure for dermatologists.

Qui Tam, Whistleblower Provisions.

The suit was originally filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. This law, originally enacted during the Civil War, allows a private citizen to sue on behalf of the United States for false claims the government paid; if successful in recovering money, the whistleblower shares in the recovery. The Act also allows the United States to intervene and prosecute the action. According to the DOJ, the whistleblowers in this suit will receive over $305,000 of the proceeds from the settlement it made with Dr. Tran and Village Dermatology.

This case just shows that even physicians can and should bring such claims and be rewarded for their whistleblowing activities.

To read the press release issued by the DOJ, click here.

Read about a recent case involving FCA allegations by reading one of my prior blogs here.

False Claims Act Cases Can Often be Settled Early and Greater Penalties, Including Prison, Avoided.

This case shows that getting an experienced attorney involved early in the proceedings can lead to a monetary settlement on a case for a much lower price than if it were unnecessarily and aggressively defended. False Claims Act cases carry with them the threat of a possible criminal prosecution which can result in years in prison for a physician. They could also result in civil monetary penalties in the millions of dollars. This is because the government is allowed to pursue treble dames, plus $11,500 (adjusted for inflation), plus attorneys fee and costs, for each claim. Thus, if a physician has only 100 possibly false claims that Medicare paid for $100 each, this could result in over $1,150,300.00, plus attorney fees and costs for them. 1,000 false claims, over $11 million in possible penalties.

If the physician can retain the services of an experienced health lawyer who can negotiate down the amount sought by the government millions of dollars in penalties, legal fees and lost time from medical practice may be achieved. On the other hand, in the right case, if a physician is not guilty of any false billings, these cases can be identified early and a cohesive, organized defense planned early.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam, Whistleblower Cases, and False Claims Act Violations.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm represent dermatologists and other physicians, nurse practitioners and other nurses, and health professionals who need to defend a False Claims Act case, or 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 who 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.

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

Sources:

Pederson, Joe. “Villages doctor agrees to pay $1.7 million to settle False Claims Act Liability after inflating Medicare claims.” Orlando Sentinel. (March 13, 2020). Web.

“Villages doctor agrees to pay $1.7 million to settle False Claims Act after inflating Medicare claims.” MSN News. (March 16, 2020). Web.

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

Keywords: qui tam lawyer, health law attorney, dermatologist defense lawyer, Mohs surgery defense lawyer, dermatologist legal representation, legal representation in Mohs surgery litigation, The Health Law Firm, health law attorney, health law defense lawyer, health care fraud attorney, whistle blower attorney, Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) attorney, False Claims Act defense lawyer, FCA attorney, illegal kickbacks, DOJ settlement attorney, government health care fraud, health fraud and abuse allegations, health fraud attorney, complex medical litigation defense lawyer, complex health care litigation defense attorney, legal representation in complex medical business litigation, FCA legal representation, whistle blower defense attorney, Florida qui tam whistle blower attorney, Colorado qui tam whistle blower lawyer, Louisiana qui tam whistle blower attorney, Kentucky qui tam whistle blower lawyer, Virginia qui tam whistle blower attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) qui tam whistle blower lawyer, Florida False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties 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, Virginia False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

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 |2020-05-07T12:43:17-04:00May 7th, 2020|Categories: Health Facilities Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Always Provide Complete Records in Response to Government Subpoenas

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
At a recent Florida Board of Dentistry meeting, a dentist was charged with violations of her practice act and standard of care violations. This happened because her prior practice had provided incomplete patient records to an investigator when it received a subpoena. The records that had been provided were missing written notes and other documentation, along with copies of the prescriptions the dentist had written. This is just one example of what can happen if patient records are not provided in an orderly and complete manner to investigators.

Important Points for Board Hearings.

The dentist attended the Board meeting, having requested an informal administrative hearing. To obtain this type of hearing means that the dentist agrees that there are no disputed issues of fact; this equates to a “guilty” plea. The dentist is waiving her right to have a formal hearing, present a defense and contest the allegations made against her. When questioned by the Board, it was clear that the dentist did not understand this. She also stated that she had an attorney, but the attorney was not present to represent her or to advise her during the Board hearing.

Even though this was a dental case, the same principles of administrative law apply in the case of a physician, nurse, mental health counselor, pharmacist or any other licensed health care professional.

Most importantly, the dentist testified that her prior practice had failed to provide a complete copy of the patient’s health record to the Department of Health (DOH) investigator. The prosecuting attorney showed the Board where the records had been subpoenaed from the prior practice twice, and they had been provided to the DOH twice, along with affidavits from the practice that these were complete copies of the entire record. (These affidavits were false.)

Fortunately for the dentist, the Board members reviewed the records that had been provided and could see for themselves that key portions were missing. Also, fortunately, the Board decided to table the case and send it back for more investigation.

If the Board had decided to go forward, the dentist would likely have received discipline on her license forever.

Important Lessons for Mental Health Care Professionals, Dentists, Physicians, and Other Licensed Health Care Professionals.

Valuable lessons that all licensed health professionals can learn from this case include:

1. Hire an experienced health law attorney as soon as you know you are under investigation. Many times your malpractice (professional) liability insurance will pay your legal defense expenses in these cases.

2. Your experienced attorney will obtain a copy of the complete investigation file (including all documents it contains) shortly after it is completed and long before any hearings. If your attorney doesn’t, then you should do so. You can review it and supplement any incomplete records, documents or information.

3. Do not hire an attorney who is unable to attend the hearing with you. Continuances can be routinely requested and granted if the attorney has a conflicting hearing somewhere else, is ill or is otherwise unable to attend. Don’t attend the hearing without your attorney, if you have one.

4. Know the difference between an informal hearing and a formal hearing. If you request an informal hearing, you are admitting the charges against you are true and you are guilty. (There are only one of two very limited exceptions to this rule) You are only there to argue about how much discipline you should receive.

5. If you are investigated, personally make sure a complete copy of the patient’s record is sent to the DOH investigator. This includes everything: demographics, insurance info, financial responsibility forms, treatment plans, orders, prescriptions, lab reports, periodontal charts, informed consent forms, patient instructions, office visits, telephone notes, operative reports, sedation charts on notes, history and physical, medical clearances from outside physicians, and dental or medical records from other providers. Even if you are no longer employed at that practice, you have the right to request and receive a copy of all of the records you generated when you treated the patient under Section 456.057, Florida Statutes. At least obtain these.

For more information on this topic and to find out more about how The Health Law Firm can assist you in matters like this, read my prior blog here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists, dental technicians, physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 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. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: administrative procedure act defense, representation for administrative hearing, Board of Dentistry defense lawyer, representation for Board of Dentistry investigation, representation for Board of Dentistry hearing, Board hearing defense attorney, Board of Medicine defense lawyer, dental hygienist defense lawyer, dentist defense lawyer, representation for dentists Department of Health (DOH) representation, DOH defense attorney, representation for DOH hearings, representation for DOH investigations, representation for disciplinary charges, representation for disciplinary complaint, representation for Florida Administrative Codes, physician lawyer, representation for doctor, representation for healthcare professionals, representation for deposition coverage, last-minute deposition coverage, short notice representation of physician, short notice of representation of doctors, hearing representation for healthcare professional, Board of Medicine defense, Board of Medicine hearing defense lawyer, representation for administrative procedure act, representation for Rules of Civil Procedure, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“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. Altamonte Springs, Florida.

Medical Marijuana Considered ‘Essential’ Amid Coronavirus Shutdowns

Attorney George F. IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 17, 2020, amid Coronavirus shutdowns, multiple cities and state health departments have declared medical marijuana dispensaries essential to health care. Many cities are closing or considering closing business and retail operations to stop the spread of the virus. Other “essential” businesses that will remain open include pharmacies, grocery stores, and financial institutions.
As of this date (3/23/2020), Florida still has not joined the ones declaring them to be essential.


“Essential Medicine”

After residents were told to stay home, a number of cities revised their position in other states and deemed cannabis “an essential medicine,” allowing stores to stay open.

San Fransico’s Mayor London Breed announced adjustments to the city’s public health order clarifying that dispensaries and marijuana deliveries are critical. “In terms of the cannabis dispensaries, the Department of Public Health [in California] today clarified that since cannabis has medical uses, dispensaries will be allowed to operate as essential businesses, just as pharmacies are allowed to do,” she added.

According to the New York State Department of Health, “In the event nonessential businesses are forced to shut down due to COVID-19, registered organizations in the medical marijuana program will be considered essential and allowed to remain open because they are considered medical providers.” Read the guidance issued by the state of New York.

Following right along, Illinois’ Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued new, temporary guidelines, relaxing where medical marijuana sales can take place in order to “help reduce contact between individuals.” The state will allow medical dispensaries to sell cannabis “on the dispensary’s property or on a public walkway or curb adjacent to the dispensary.”  Read the temporary guidance issued by Illinois.

In addition, other states, such as Michigan, Massachusetts, and Washington have issued bulletins relaxing regulations regarding delivery and in-store transactions in order to limit contact between patients and vendors.

The question is, will Florida and other states continue to follow suit if necessary? On March 16, 2020, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted Emergency Order 20-002 to temporarily allow qualified physicians to use telemedicine. However, so far, there has not been any guidance issued specifically on medical marijuana dispensaries. View Florida’s Emergency Order 20-002.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists, and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly help to complete and submit the applications for renewals, registration, permitting and/or licensing, complying with Florida law. We also represent health facilities, health clinics, and pharmacies facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

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

Sources:

Booker, Brakkton. “Amid Coronavirus, San Francisco, New York, Deem Marijuana Businesses ‘Essential’.” NPR. (March 17, 2020). Web.

Reisman, Sam. “Medical Pot Deemed ‘Essential’ Amid COVID-19 Shutdowns.” Law360. (March 17, 2020). Web.

Smith, Jeff. “Medical cannabis businesses increasingly deemed ‘essential’ during coronavirus pandemic.” Med Biz Daily. (March 18, 2020). 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.

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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 © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Healthcare Professionals Should Ensure Records Provided in Response to Government Subpoenas are Complete

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
At a recent Florida Board of Dentistry meeting, a dentist was charged with violations of her practice act and standard of care violations. This happened because her prior practice had provided incomplete patient records to an investigator when it received a subpoena. The records that had been provided were missing written notes and other documentation, along with copies of the prescriptions the dentist had written. This is just one example of what can happen if patient records are not provided in an orderly and complete manner to investigators.

Important Points for Board Hearings.

The dentist attended the Board meeting, having requested an informal administrative hearing. To obtain this type of hearing means that the dentist agrees that there are no disputed issues of fact; this equates to a “guilty” plea. The dentist is waiving her right to have a formal hearing, present a defense and contest the allegations made against her. When questioned by the Board, it was clear that the dentist did not understand this. She also stated that she had an attorney, but the attorney was not present to represent her or to advise her during the Board hearing.

Even though this was a dental case, the same principles of administrative law apply in the case of a physician, nurse, mental health counselor, pharmacist or any other licensed health care professional.

Most importantly, the dentist testified that her prior practice had failed to provide a complete copy of the patient’s health record to the Department of Health (DOH) investigator. The prosecuting attorney showed the Board where the records had been subpoenaed from the prior practice twice, and they had been provided to the DOH twice, along with affidavits from the practice that these were complete copies of the entire record. (These affidavits were false.)

Fortunately for the dentist, the Board members reviewed the records that had been provided and could see for themselves that key portions were missing. Also, fortunately, the Board decided to table the case and send it back for more investigation.

If the Board had decided to go forward, the dentist would likely have received discipline on her license forever.

Important Lessons for Dentists, Physicians, and Other Licensed Health Professionals.

Valuable lessons that all licensed health professionals can learn from this case include:

1. Hire an experienced health law attorney as soon as you know you are under investigation. Many times your malpractice (professional) liability insurance will pay your legal defense expenses in these cases.

2. Your experienced attorney will obtain a copy of the complete investigation file (including all documents it contains) shortly after it is completed and long before any hearings. If your attorney doesn’t, then you should do so. You can review it and supplement any incomplete records, documents or information.

3. Do not hire an attorney who is unable to attend the hearing with you. Continuances can be routinely requested and granted if the attorney has a conflicting hearing somewhere else, is ill or is otherwise unable to attend. Don’t attend the hearing without your attorney, if you have one.

4. Know the difference between an informal hearing and a formal hearing. If you request an informal hearing, you are admitting the charges against you are true and you are guilty. (There are only one of two very limited exceptions to this rule) You are only there to argue about how much discipline you should receive.

5. If you are investigated, personally make sure a complete copy of the patient’s record is sent to the DOH investigator. This includes everything: demographics, insurance info, financial responsibility forms, treatment plans, orders, prescriptions, lab reports, periodontal charts, informed consent forms, patient instructions, office visits, telephone notes, operative reports, sedation charts on notes, history and physical, medical clearances from outside physicians, and dental or medical records from other providers. Even if you are no longer employed at that practice, you have the right to request and receive a copy of all of the records you generated when you treated the patient under Section 456.057, Florida Statutes. At least obtain these.

For more information on this topic and to find out more about how The Health Law Firm can assist you in matters like this, read my prior blog here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists, dental technicians, physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 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: administrative procedure act defense, representation for administrative hearing, Board of Dentistry defense lawyer, representation for Board of Dentistry investigation, representation for Board of Dentistry hearing, Board hearing defense attorney, Board of Medicine defense lawyer, dental hygienist defense lawyer, dentist defense lawyer, representation for dentists Department of Health (DOH) representation, DOH defense attorney, representation for DOH hearings, representation for DOH investigations, representation for disciplinary charges, representation for disciplinary complaint, representation for Florida Administrative Codes, physician lawyer, representation for doctor, representation for healthcare professionals, representation for deposition coverage, last-minute deposition coverage, short notice representation of physician, short notice of representation of doctors, hearing representation for healthcare professional, Board of Medicine defense, Board of Medicine hearing defense lawyer, representation for administrative procedure act, representation for Rules of Civil Procedure, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys

“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. Altamonte Springs, Florida.

 

Florida DOH Issues Emergency Rules for Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Effective December 10, 2019, emergency rules for the regulation of medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTCs) were issued by the Florida Department of Health (DOH). Also issued were notices of proposed rules to provide further regulation for background screening and renewal applications.

Emergency Rules.

In Florida, emergency rules may be adopted if an administrative agency finds there is an immediate danger to the public health, safety, or welfare. Such rules are effective for 90 days while an agency undertakes the formal rulemaking process. Agency rulemaking is subject to challenge under Florida’s Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which allows those who have a substantial interest in the prosed rules to challenge them. This means implementation could be delayed.

Rule 64ER19-7, Florida Administrative Code–Background Screenings for MMTCs.

The new Florida administrative rule, Rule 64ER19-7 of the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) requires MMTCs to ensure that all employees, owners, and managers of an MMTC pass a background screening check before being allowed to serve in such a role at the MMTC. The rule also includes extensive background and record-keeping requirements for MMTCs.

Under the rule, MMTCs have an ongoing obligation to report certain arrests of any employee, owner, or manager to DOH within 48 hours of becoming aware of the arrest. MMTCs failing to meet these requirements will be subject to discipline. Click here to view the rule in full.

Rule 64ER19-8–Renewal Applications for MMTCs.

The second rule, 64ER19-8, FAC, concerns renewal applications for MMTCs. Each MMTC is required to submit a renewal application, along with a renewal fee. Those initially licensed between July 31, 2017, and October 31, 2017, must submit a renewal application. The renewal application must be received no later than February 28, 2020. After submission of these applications, the renewals are then biennial.

All other MMTCs shall submit a renewal application biennially, which must be received by the DOH at least 30 days, but not more than 60 days before the license expires. Renewal applications that are not received by the DOH on or before the deadline will not be considered. It is crucial that all MMTCs be aware of these deadlines, calendar these deadlines and be sure there is an action taken on such renewals. Click here to view the rule in full.

For more information and to view the complete list of proposed rules and rule development, visit the Florida DOH website here.

To stay on top of medical marijuana legislation in Florida, read my prior blog here and be sure to visit our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists, and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly help to complete and submit the applications for renewals, registration, permitting and/or licensing, complying with Florida law. We also represent health facilities, health clinics, and pharmacies facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

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

Sources:

Stanfield, Timothy. “Florida’s Department of Health/Office of Medical Marijuana Use Issues Emergency Rules and Notices of Rulemaking.” National Law Review. (January 8, 2020). Web.

Newlon, Amanda. “Client Alert: Florida Issues Emergency Rules and Notice of Rulemaking for MMTCs.” JD Supra. (January 22, 2020). 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: Florida medical marijuana center regulations and legislation, Florida medical marijuana treatment center representation, medical marijuana regulation attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, legal representation for medical marijuana issues, health care business application attorney, health law defense attorney, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, health facility legal representation, health facility defense attorney, health facility defense lawyer, legal representation for marijuana regulations, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm Attorneys, administrative hearing defense legal representation, administrative hearing defense attorney, administrative hearing defense lawyer, legal counsel for marijuana law, Florida medical administrative regulation attorney, formal 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.

Nursing Student Files Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Lawsuit Against UNC Greensboro

Attorney George F. Indest Headshot By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On November 29, 2019, a former University of North Carolina nursing student sued the school’s Greensboro campus, saying it improperly dismissed from her a program a month before graduation. She filed two separate suits. She claims she was forced to endure sexual harassment as a student for years. Then, when she accused a supervisor of misconduct, she was gradually pushed out of the nursing program, according to the lawsuit.

She is suing the University of North Carolina’s Greensboro nursing department in state court and UNC’s Board of Directors along with the Raleigh School of Nurse Anesthesia in federal court.

Lawsuit Describes Alleged Harassment, Retaliation.

According to the suit, the harassment began less than a year after she enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Program at UNCG in August 2015, with hopes of becoming a nurse anesthesiologist. She was put under the supervision of a male certified registered nurse anesthetist, or CRNA. In her suit, she alleges that her supervisor began acting inappropriately almost immediately.

When she reported the harassment in July 2016, that’s when the retaliation started, claims the lawsuit. “They started trying to find things,” she reportedly said. She claims that one supervisor told her “If I can’t get you for this, I can get you for something else.” A few months later, on October 31, 2016, she states she was given additional clinical work and reassigned to work with the same CRNA she had previously reported for harassment, according to court documents.

In June 2018, a month before she was to graduate, she was dismissed from the program for what the school said were unsafe nursing practices. She appealed and UNCG allowed her to re-enroll in January 2019 for a tuition of $10,000. However, a month later, she was dismissed again for unsafe nursing practices. UNCG then refused any further appeals and upheld her dismissal in May 2019.

The nursing student is seeking unspecified damages, including loss of income and repayment of tuition, according to the lawsuit.

To read one of my prior blogs on a similar case dealing with a harassment lawsuit at Rutgers University, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys Representing Medical Students, Residents and Fellows.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents medical students, residents, and fellows who run into difficulties and have disputes with their medical schools or programs. We also represent 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:

“Lawsuit describes harassment, retaliation at UNCG nursing school.” Greensboro News & Record. (December 3, 2019). Web.

Waggoner, Martha. “Lawsuit describes harassment, retaliation at Nursing School.” The Washington Post. (December 3, 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 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 © 2020 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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