AHCA Exemptions From Employment Disqualification for Florida Health Professionals

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

Florida law requires that health professionals (including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, professional counselors, and social workers, among others) obtain a Level 2 background screening before working in a facility licensed by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).  This includes third and fourth-year medical students, resident physicians, and nursing students.  Often an arrest from years ago, sometimes decades ago, will be located during this screening.  A letter stating that the individual is disqualified from employment or requiring an explanation may result.  What do you do?

Level 2 Background Screens.

A level two background screening requires your fingerprints.  It is done by checking the National Criminal Information System (NCIS) database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  The NCIS receives reports, arrests, investigations, and criminal actions from all U.S. law enforcement agencies and the military.

It is much broader than a Level 1 background screening and covers all states and U.S. jurisdictions.

Problems and Incomplete Reports.

Although agencies that report arrests and investigations are also supposed to report the outcomes to the NCIS, they often fail to do this.  Therefore there may be incomplete information in the report that is received.  An arrest may be entered, but the dismissal or other resolution of the case may be omitted.  This will cause problems because you will have to explain what happened and produce court documents to prove it.  For example, we had a nurse-client whose Level 2 background screening came back with an arrest for a drunk and disorderly charge, in New Orleans, at Mardi Gras when she was 18 years old, over 30 years prior.  The courthouse had since been flooded during a hurricane, and all records were destroyed.

Another problem lies in military records.  Reports from The Army Criminal Investigative Division  (CID). Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OIS) and Navy Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) are often received and entered into the system, even if the investigation concerned an administrative infraction, a minor infraction of regulations, or resulted in an Article 15 non-judicial punishment (NJP), an administrative proceeding which is not a criminal conviction.  Civilian authorities often mistakenly interpret Article 15 non-judicial punishment (NJP) as a “conviction,” but U.S. Supreme Court cases specifically state that it is not.

Certain Criminal Offenses Will Disqualify Health Professionals from Employment.

Many criminal offenses may be returned on a Level 2 background screening which initially appears to disqualify the individual from being employed in an AHCA-licensed facility, especially where the patients will be elderly, disabled, or children.  In this case, you will get a letter back from AHCA and/or your employer advising you that you are disqualified from employment, but you have thirty (30) days to provide documents to show what really happened, show the charges were dismissed, show that you have completed any sentence you received or show you have been fully rehabilitated.

We recommend that you obtain the services of an experienced health attorney in completing the forms and obtaining and producing the documents needed.  You should contact an attorney at the earliest sign that this might occur.  You will need certified copies of court documents and probation documents, as well as character reference letters.

The fact that you received prior screening when you applied for a license or before you began school is irrelevant to this process.  You will have to follow the procedure, anyway.  In the case of an actual guilty plea, a plea of nolo contendere (no contest), finding of adjudication withheld (deferred), or finding of guilty, you will have to request an exemption or a waiver from AHCA so that you may be cleared to be employed.

The Health Law Firm Attorneys have experience in Complying with AHCA Requirements and in Foiling Requests for Exemptions or Waivers.

The attorneys at The Health Law Firm have experience completing the petitions and providing the documents and explanations that AHCA requires in such matters.

Below is a copy of a decision letter from AHCA showing a successful result in such a case.

Exemptions for Employment Disqualification for Health Professionals

For more information, read our recent blog on Florida’s legislation on background checks for health professionals.

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, home health agencies, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers. It also includes medical students, resident physicians, and fellows, as well as medical school professors and clinical staff. We represent health 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, 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., 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 Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620.


“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2022 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

DOJ Drops Charges in Appalachia Opioid Case After Supreme Court Ruling

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

On August 12, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it dropped charges against the remaining defendants in a case against a former Ohio drug distributor. In 2019, Miami-Luken, two of its executives, and two pharmacists were charged with unlawfully conspiring to distribute millions of addictive painkillers across rural Appalachia.

The Original Indictment.

The DOJ issued an indictment against the five defendants in 2019 and charged all with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. It alleged Miami-Luken had sent millions of Class II and III narcotic painkillers to pharmacies that served rural towns in Appalachia. The indictment said that this occurred from about 2008 to 2015 when the opioid crisis was at its height.

During that time, the government alleged that Miami-Luken sent over “six million doses” of drugs to a West Virginia pharmacy and “regularly exceeded the internal threshold limit” set for that area. The charges were tied to alleged violations of the Controlled Substances Act. For more information about the charges, read the DOJ’s press release.

In a lengthy motion to dismiss, the former drug distributor said the claims were not clearly prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act and said the case was “the first time that the DOJ has relied on Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) guidance letters interpreting a federal statute — the Controlled Substances Act — as the basis for a criminal prosecution.”

Pharmacy Fraud Cases using gavel and stethoscope with spilled opioid pills

As an aside, I note that the DEA (and when DOJ is representing it, DOJ adopts the same tactic) routinely engages in what I call “bean counting” to exaggerate the perception of the seriousness of the matter. They do this by counting the number of individual pills prescribed or dispensed when, overall, it really is not that significant. Let’s say a hypothetical patient suffering from chronic pain

is prescribed 20 mg of a narcotic medication thrice daily. Such prescriptions are normally written for a thirty (30) day supply. The DEA (and sometimes the DOJ) will multiply these out and allege the doctor prescribed 90 pills X 12 months or 1,080 pills. If the pharmacists did not have 20 mg size pills and filled it with 10 mg pills (doubling

the number of pills, but not the dosage), this doubles the number of pills to 2,160. It sounds like a tremendous number, but it is actually the average that would be prescribed for such a patient.

And then, when one considers that a pharmacy probably has thousands of patients each month who get their prescriptions filled, this greatly magnifies the number of individual pills. Then take it a step further, and consider a medical distributor that may be distributing medications to a hundred different individual drug stores. This multiplies out the number to a much greater one. Using a figure such as “six million pills distributed” sounds much more terrible than “three thousand patients received an average dosage of pills that were distributed through the drug distribution company.” Defense attorneys must do everything possible to eliminate or reduce the impact of such “bean counting” or “pill counting” in such cases.

In March 2021, U.S. District Judge Matthew W. McFarland of the Southern District of Ohio refused to toss the case, saying the motion was “premised on the mischaracterization of the crime.”

Unopposed Motion to Dismiss the Charges.

This time, Surprisingly, there was a motion by the DOJ to dismiss the case. Judge McFarland granted the government’s unopposed motion to dismiss the charges against the remaining defendants, including former Miami-Luken President Anthony Rattini, who died last year. Another former Miami-Luken executive had accepted a plea deal in December 2021.

View the government’s motion to dismiss the indictment without prejudice and stipulation.

View Judge McFarland’s order granting the motion to dismiss the indictment.

It’s important to note that the government did not specify why the charges were dropped; however, the move came shortly after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made such cases harder to prove. The decision in Ruan v. U.S. said that prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act for excessive prescribing of opioids and other addictive drugs must show that doctors knew they lacked a legitimate medical purpose.

Click here to read my previous blog to learn more about this topic.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Health Professionals and Providers.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys have represented physicians, pharmacists, nurses, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, health facilities, and other health care providers in cases involving allegations of over-prescribing narcotics and pain medications. These include criminal investigations by local police and law enforcement authorities, investigations by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), complaints against professional licenses by the Florida Department of Health, investigations, and prosecutions by the Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCU), and other types of cases. Having attorneys familiar with the medical standards of care and guidelines for prescribing narcotics and having access to expert medical and pharmacy professionals who can testify as expert witnesses in such cases is also crucial. We have represented professionals in administrative investigations and hearings at state and federal levels.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Weld, Elliot. “Appalachia Opioid Charges Dropped After High Court Ruling.” Law360. (August 12, 2022). Web.

Raymond Nate. “Opioid distributor Miami-Luken, execs seek dismissal of indictment.” Reuters. (May 1, 2020). Web.

Overley, Jeff. “DOJ Indicts Opioid Distributor, Execs Over Painkiller Sales.” Law360. (July 18, 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 Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620

Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in the practice of health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: PAlexander@TheHealthLawFirm.com or fax to: (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2022 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2023-11-30T19:00:34-05:00December 2, 2023|Categories: Pharmacy Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

New Study Faults Coding Structures For Increased Medical Billing Costs in U.S.

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

A study publicized in August 2022 revealed that the complex coding structures used in the United States drive up medical billing costs. This helps to make the U.S. one of the most expensive countries for health providers to get paid. According to the study, researchers used a micro-level accounting of billing and insurance-related (often abbreviated “BIR”) expenses in different national settings at six provider locations in five nations: Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Singapore. This most recent study supplements a prior study measuring such costs in the U.S.

The findings, published in Health Affairs Journal, revealed “BIR (billing and insurance-related) costs in the U.S. are generally much higher than the costs in other countries.” This means that all the extra costs of coding and billing, including the related expenses, are a significant factor in driving up health care cases in the U.S. Say what you want about doctors’ hating paperwork, but this study seems to validate that feeling.

The Findings of the Study.

The study confirmed what research has established that billing and insurance-related (BIR) costs in the U.S. are much higher than in other countries. For example, prices range from $6 in Canada to $215 in the U.S. for an inpatient surgical bill. In the U.S., that represented about 3.1 percent of the total professional revenue for the procedure. Providers also spent about 100 minutes processing the claim.

To compare, only Australia had similar billing and insurance-related costs to the U.S. Australia has a mix of publicly and privately funded payers and universal coverage. Billing and insurance-related costs were significantly less in Canada than in the other nations. The study said Germany, Singapore, and the Netherlands had equal billing and insurance-related costs.

A Common Trend: Complex Coding.

The U.S. has a coding process in which each payer has its forms and documentation requirements, creating a significant burden on providers to translate clinical documentation into billable codes for reimbursement.

Because of standardization in other countries, providers spend less time coding or do not need coders to translate documentation into billable codes. Additionally, “little physician time is spent entering billing-related information into the EHR [electronic health record] system, as charge codes are either generated automatically or entered manually by a lower-wage or nonclinical teammate,” the study stated. “As a consequence, these countries’ billing systems either require fewer labor resources or much less costly labor and physician time than the one in the U.S.”

Researchers also found that financial counseling could reduce overall billing and insurance-related costs in the U.S.

You can read the study in full and learn more by visiting Health Affairs, a leading peer-reviewed journal of health policy thought and research.

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, home health agencies, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers. It also includes medical students, resident physicians, and fellows, as well as medical school professors and clinical staff. We represent health 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, patient complaints, and in Department of Health investigations.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call our office at (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.ThehealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

LaPointe, Jacqueline. “Coding Drives Up Medical Billing Costs in the US.” Rev Cycle Intelligence. (August 3, 2022) Web.

Norris, Amanda. “REV CYCLE PROCESSES PUSH U.S. TO TOP OF LIST FOR HIGHEST MEDICAL BILLING COSTS.” Health Leaders Media. (August 10, 2022). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2022 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

List of Florida Nursing Schools Issuing Phony Diplomas in Operation Nightingale Increases to 19

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

A recent announcement by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC), now known as the Washington State Board of Nursing, has listed 19 Florida schools that it states are or were involved in the fraudulent scheme investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “Operation Nightingale.”


What Are the Names of the 19 Phony Florida Nursing Schools?

The 19 schools that NCQAC states were involved in taking nursing students’ money and issuing fake transcripts are:

Carleen Health Institute
Carleen Home Health School II
Ideal Professional Institute, Inc.
Jay College of Health LLC
Med-Life Institute – West Palm Beach
Med-Life Institute of South Florida
Med-Life Institute School of Nursing
Palm Beach School of Nursing
Quisqueya Health Care Academy
Quisqueya School of Nursing
Sacred Heart International Institute Inc.
Siena College of Health
Siena College of Health II LLC
Siena Education Center LLC
Sigma College
Sigma Institute of Health Careers
Sunshine Academy
Techni-Pro Institute
The Enfimye Institute

Some of the “newer” names on the list are owned and operated by some of the same fraudsters involved in the original “Gang of Six.” For example, Jay College of Health, LLC, was owned or operated by the notorious Johanah Napolean, who has been indicted and has been forced to forfeit millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains to the federal government. In reality, we believe there are many more than this.

How Many Have Been Caught and Convicted to Date?

For a list of the individuals who have been involved in the scam and who have been convicted through September 28, 2023, click here.

How Many More Phony Florida Nursing Schools Are There?  Plenty!

We receive calls several times a week from nursing students who have attended “nursing schools” in Florida who state that heir tuition and fees have been taken and they have completed all courses and activities the school required to obtain a diploma but:

a.  The school will not give them their diploma or transcripts or
b.  The school is requiring them to pay more and take more courses than promised or
c.  The school will not approve them to take the NCLEX examination to get a license or
d.  The school and its owners have disappeared, and they can’t get a transcript to transfer.

Why Is All of This Fraud Occurring in Florida?

Why does all of this fraud seem to be occurring in Florida?  It probably is not all of the fraud, only most of the fraud.  We have also heard about phony nursing schools doing business in other states.  But the vast majority of it seems to be in Florida.

Could this be because Florida prides itself in sheltering criminals and con men?  Probably.

Is this because Florida regulatory agencies do not bother to monitor and regulate the schools they approve as they are supposed to.  Most definitely.

Is this because Florida allows the use of shell companies and corporations to routinely defraud people so that the owners can disappear with their money without any consequences?  You know it!

Why do you think the industries of Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, and healthcare fraud in general are doing so well here in Florida?

Why doesn’t Florida do something about it?  Because we would lose all of that stolen income that helps support the rich and powerful here, that’s why.

Florida’s history of cons, scams, and fraud goes way back to the real estate salespeople selling Florida swamp land to out-of-state yokels who then moved here only to find the property they purchased was underwater, literally.  And with Cuba only a boat ride away and many friendly Caribbean and South American countries only a direct plane flight away, suitcases full of cash can be spirited out of the country with little trouble.

Are you the victim of a phony nursing school not on the list?

Are you the victim of a phony nursing school not on the list?  Don’t call us; we can’t do anything about these criminals doing this.

Instead, you might consider calling the FBI and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which is working hand-in-hand with the FBI and the various state nursing boards on these matters.  The NCSBN can get the word out quickly to the states involved.  Tell them you have been victimized by another school that should be part of “Operation Nightingale” and want to file a complaint.

The telephone number for the NCSBN is (312) 525-3600 or (888) 435-8242and ask for the Nursing Regulation Division, Nursing Education Section, or send an e-mail to support@answerpro.zendesk.com or send a written letter explaining the problem to:

National Council of State Boards of Nursing
Attn: Nurisng Regulation Division, Education Section
111 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 2900
Chicago, IL 60601.

The FBI’s main hotline for reporting possible criminal activity is (800) 225-5324, file a complaint or tip at https://tips.fbi.gov/home. Alternatively, and perhaps better, you can contact the Miami FBI Office, which is the one handling the Operation Nightingale investigation:

FBI Miami Dade Field Office
2030 S.W. 145th Avenue
Miramar, FL 33027
miami.fbi.gov
Phone: (754) 703-2000.

To see the Washington State NCQAC press release naming the 19 schools above, click here.

To see the original Department of Justice Press Release on Operation Nightingale, click here.

Click here to read one of our prior blogs on Operation Nightingale to learn even more.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, DOJ investigations, Board of Nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.


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

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

By |2023-11-13T14:29:41-05:00November 13, 2023|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Doctor’s Defamation Suit Against University over Use of Resident Physicians Moves Forward

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

On July 11, 2023, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky allowed a doctor to move forward with one of his defamation claims against the university’s provost for allegations made to support his termination.

A medical doctor and oral surgeon at the University of Kentucky (UK) sued the university and university officials on multiple grounds, including making a defamation claim against the university’s provost. The defamation claim stems from the Statement of Charges made by the provost in the physician’s termination proceedings.

The Statement of Charges claims that the doctor stole from the UK, took credit for patient care services that a resident performed, caused the College of Dentistry to submit false claims to the federal government, and encouraged a colleague to falsify medical records.

The court granted summary judgment on three counts but denied summary judgment on the claim that the doctor stole from the university.

University of Kentucky Policy.

The UK employed the doctor from 2001 to 2019. Before 2017, UK policy approved by its Dental Care Board required its staff to designate the faculty member as the treatment provider on billing documents when a resident helped the faculty member with treatment and documented the care. During 2017, billing practices changed, and employees began designating residents as the treatment providers whenever the residents documented a patient’s care.

When the faculty member was designated as the treatment provider, the faculty member would be entitled to 40 percent of the fees paid.

University of Kentucky’s Investigation.

From April 2017 to July 2018, UK documents designated a resident as the treatment provider for 89 patients the plaintiffs doctor alleges he treated. The doctor, believing he was entitled to income for this care, reviewed the files and removed any reference to a resident from the patient notes, or so it is alleged in the pleadings.

The altered documents triggered an internal investigation. The university interviewed seven residents whose notes had been changed by the doctor. The residents confirmed that patient clinical care occurred in two ways: 1) they would treat the patient and present their findings to the doctor, and he would then reevaluate the patient, or 2) the resident and doctor would treat the patient simultaneously.

Since none of the 89 patients left without seeing the doctor, he alleges that he was entitled to the income for their care.

The investigation confirmed that there were no patient care issues. The issues were purely with the documentation of the patient care. The medical records do not reflect the services performed because the documents do not mention a resident providing care. The report alleges that the doctor removed all references to residents in the documentation solely to obtain compensation for these visits.

The university’s provost decided that the university needed to discipline the doctor for altering the medical records, most probably a prudent decision.

Disciplinary Actions.

The provost informed the doctor in January 2019 that university termination proceedings would begin. However, it is alleged that he did not follow the correct termination procedures. The provost decided to investigate further while suspending the doctor from clinical care pending the investigation’s outcome.

After this, the provost filed a Statement of Charges against the doctor, which began the administrative process to terminate tenured faculty. In the Statement of Charges, the provost claimed the doctor stole from the University of Kentucky, falsified medical records by claiming he provided services that a resident provided, caused the university to submit false claims to Medicare and Medicaid, and encouraged a colleague to behave similarly.

The doctor resigned and sued the university and university officials on multiple grounds, including the defamation claim against the provost for his four statements in the Statement of Charges.

Legal Proceedings.

The provost filed a motion for summary judgment for qualified privilege. Qualified privilege protects a speaker where the communication is one in which the party has an interest and it is made to another interested party.

In employment, qualified privilege applies to internal discussions and communications necessary to a company’s proper function and law enforcement. This protection will apply despite a statement’s falsity if the public interest in detecting wrongdoing outweighs the private interest for defamation if the suspicions are made in good faith.

Privilege can be overcome by showing actual malice and falsity in a statement. It is the burden of the plaintiff to defeat the assertion of qualified privilege. So, in this case, the doctor has to show that the provost’s four statements are false and were made maliciously.

In the present proceeding, the judge is not deciding if the statements are defamatory. The judge is only deciding if a jury could find the statements defamatory and whether to grant summary judgment in favor of UK.

The judge granted summary judgment in favor of the UK provost on three of the allegedly defamatory statements: 1) That the doctor falsified medical records, 2) That the doctor caused the university to submit false claims to the federal government, and 3) that the doctor influenced another faculty member to do the same.

Federal courts grant summary judgment if the moving party does not dispute a material fact. The moving party is entitled to judgment if there is no dispute between the parties. The judge found no disagreement with the statement that the doctor falsified medical records.

For the statement that the doctor caused the college to submit false claims to the government, the doctor could not overcome the qualified privilege that the provost had as a matter of law. The doctor failed to show that the provost knew or should have known that the allegation was false or that the provost spoke maliciously. Therefore, the qualified privilege stood, and that claim was dismissed.

The doctor also failed to show that the provost’s statement that the doctor influenced a colleague was false. Therefore, the doctor was also unable to defeat the qualified privilege for that statement.

The judge decided that the plaintiffs introduced sufficient evidence for a jury to decide whether he could defeat qualified privilege for the claim that he stole from the University of Kentucky. This evidence included the testimony of four other UK dentists stating that the doctor should have been designated as the treatment provider, not the residents. This means that it could be argued that the funds were earned by the plaintiff doctor and not stolen by him.

Evidence was also introduced to show that the provost recklessly disregarded the possibility that the statement was false. There was no evidence that the doctor failed to participate in caring for the patients at issue. All evidence showed that he did treat the patients with a resident. Because of this, the jury could conclude that he was entitled to the compensation and, therefore, did not steal it.

The judge denied summary judgment for the UK provost regarding the statement that the doctor stole from the University of Kentucky. However, summary judgment was granted in favor of the UK provost on the other three defamation claims dismissing them.

Click here to read the Memorandum Opinion and Order on our website.

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

At the Health Law Firm we represent dentists and oral surgeons, resident physicians and fellows, and other health professionals. We represent them in legal disputes and disciplinary cases against their universities and residency programs, in investigations and complaints against their licenses, in clinical privileges matters and peer review hearings, in administrative hearings and in complex litigation. We litigate cases in state and federal courts and in administrative forums. We have a great deal of experience in representing physicians against universities, medical schools, and graduate medical education programs. The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing physicians in investigations complaints before the board of dentistry and board of medicine.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.ThehealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Cunningham v. Blackwell, CIVIL 3:20-cv-00008-GFVT-EBA (E.D. Ky. Jul. 11, 2023)
“U.S. Court in Kentucky Allows Physicians Defamation Claim to go Forward in Termination Dispute.” American Health Law Association Health Law Weekly. (21 July 2023). https://www.americanhealthlaw.org/content-library/health-law-weekly/article/7db3086c-db3c-4f85-bad7-88802f937f14/U-S-Court-in-Kentucky-Allows-Physician-s-Defamation

About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.

Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with 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 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

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

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Iowa Appellate Court Reverses $6 Million Nursing Home Negligence Decision Because of Hearsay Testimony

Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A, LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Hartley Brooks, Law Clerk, The Health Law Firm
On June 21, 2023, the Iowa Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in a nursing home negligence case that awarded $6 million in compensation and damages to the plaintiff. The case was reversed and remanded for a new trial because the trial court judge admitted inadmissible hearsay testimony into evidence. The testimony being appealed was that of staff members who claimed to have heard “reports” and “rumors” of alleged abuse by a nurse on staff toward not only the resident in question but other residents.
Hearsay in Iowa law is defined as “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Click here to read the Iowa Rules of Evidence concerning hearsay. This is the same definition used by the federal and most other courts.
Essentially, hearsay is when someone repeats something they heard from another person and presents it as if they know it to be true. Hearsay is often equated to rumor. Hearsay is not admissible due to the nature of speculation required in making such a statement, the fact that such statements are inherently unreliable and that the actual witness is not in court to answer questions about it. Thus there is no way for a party or the judge to test the credibility of the actual witness or determine facts that may have influenced the observation and statement.
Hearsay is considered unreliable because the person who knows what happened (who saw what happened or heard what happened) is not to be questioned about it. Therefore, there is no way to know what really happened for sure.
Details of the Case. 
In this case, the estate of the former nursing home resident, who succumbed to her injuries after a fall in the nursing home, claimed adult abuse and that negligence caused a wrongful death. In its defense, the nursing home focused on the alleged abuse by a nurse on the staff. The statements challenged in the appeal included testimony made by six nursing home staff members that residents, other unnamed employees, and an Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals surveyor told them that the nurse in question had been physically rough with and swore at residents.
The employees testifying did not actually witness any such incidents. They were only testifying about someone else’s words (“hearsay”). 
The trial court admitted these statements, allegedly not for their truth, but in an attempt to show that abuse had been reported and there had not been any follow-up investigation. The appellate court stated that this was not a valid reason to admit inadmissible hearsay into evidence because the estate must prove that the conduct existed to prevent the jury from engaging in rampant speculation based on unreliable hearsay evidence.
People in today’s society, yes, even judges, often forget this basic principle of law. With all of the fabricated lies being put out as “news” on some news channels, Internet rumors running rampant, and politicians making egregiously false statements, it’s often hard to remember how to distinguish a fact from an unreliable rumor or hearsay.
This is one of the problems with hearsay. It is often just gossip and rumor, which change from person to person. Especially egregious conduct, criminal activity, and salacious acts become increasingly exaggerated with each retelling. The founding fathers in English and American law realized the inherently unreliable nature of such “evidence.”
Under the hearsay rule, the Court of Appeals agreed with the nursing home that the statements being challenged were inadmissible hearsay evidence that influenced the jury’s verdict. Due to this, the court reversed the verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents health professionals and health facilities in civil and administrative litigation. We also represent physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, board hearings, 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.  We represent medical students, interns, resident physicians, and fellows in disputes with their graduate medical education (GME) programs.  We represent clinical professors and instructors in contract disputes, employment disputes, clinical privileges matters, and other disputes with their employers.  We often act as the physician’s personal counsel in medical malpractice litigation.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Source: 
About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with the health law firm. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.
Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified attorneys interested in health law practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: KBrant@TheHealthLawFirm.com or fax to: (407) 331-3030.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

U.S. Government Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Extending Health Benefits for Millions of Americans

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

On July 15, 2022, the United States again renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency, allowing millions of Americans special access to free tests, vaccines, and treatments. The public health emergency was initially declared in January 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began. Since then, the Department of Health and Human Services has renewed it each quarter. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra officially renewed the declaration extending it through October 13, 2022. View it in full here.

Ensuring Continued Access to Special Services During the Public-Health Emergency.

The declaration allows the U.S. to grant emergency authorizations of drugs, vaccines, and other medical countermeasures. As a result, it can administer those products to millions of people at no out-of-pocket cost. It’s also enabled millions of Americans to get health coverage through Medicaid, among other benefits.

It may also have additional benefits, such as allowing certain health care professionals to practice across state lines without getting a license in the state where the patient is and encouraging the continuation of video visits (telemedicine). But check your state and national regulations to be sure.

When the public health emergency expires, insured patients will be subject to co-pays or other costs, while the uninsured will lose easy access to free testing. In addition, millions could risk losing Medicaid coverage as states reinstate stricter enrollment rules that they had loosened to qualify for enhanced federal funding.

The Biden administration has ensured states it will give 60 days’ notice before ending the emergency to allow sufficient time to prepare for changes to specific programs and regulatory authorities. To learn more about Public Health Emergency Declarations, visit the Office for the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response.

To read one of my prior blogs on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the healthcare industry, click here.

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, home health agencies, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers. It also includes medical students, resident physicians, fellows, medical school professors, and clinical staff. We represent health 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, patient complaints, and Department of Health investigations.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call our office at (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.ThehealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Aboulenein, Ahmed. “U.S. Renews COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” Reuters. (April 13, 2022). Web.

Griffin, Riley. “Biden Administration to Again Extend the Covid Public-Health Emergency.” Bloomberg Law. (July 11, 2022). Web.

AHLA. “US Government To Extend COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Again.” Health Law Daily. (July 13, 2022). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave. Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2022 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Female Scientist Files Suit Against Duke School of Medicine For Discrimination, Retaliation

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

On August 10, 2023, a female scientist in the anesthesiology department at Duke University’s School of Medicine filed a complaint against the school under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. She told the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina that Duke paid her less than her male colleagues, increased her hours without increasing her pay, and threatened her with demotions after complaining about it.

According to the complaint (lawsuit), she was the first female principal investigator (PI) to work in Duke’s hyperbaric medicine center. The term “principal investigator,” as used in scientific research, means an individual with a medical degree or Ph.D. appointed directly by third parties (usually the sponsors) to lead and oversee funded scientific research projects on their behalf.

Alleged Hostile Work Environment.

Reportedly, on August 14, 2019, the scientist accepted the position of Assistant Consulting Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the Duke University School of Medicine. Because she was expecting to undergo several surgeries, she negotiated a part-time role in which she would work ten hours per week at a $30,000 salary, according to the suit. The federal government funded her projects. Duke clarified it paid her $70 an hour. Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that she was promised to receive more money if she exceeded 10 hours per week.

However, the plaintiff said that her supervisor began assigning her to additional work starting in December 2020 and raised her hours to 20 to 40 hours per week without any extra pay. She contacted the human resources department, but the problem went uncorrected, according to court documents.

Additionally, she began talking to her other colleagues, who were male PIs, about their pay rates and learned that they were all making more than her. The suit claimed that one male PI earned $100,000 for the same work she performed while receiving less than half that amount.

Alleged Gender Discrimination.

The scientist alleges that she complained to Duke about gender discrimination in August 2021. She said her supervisor presented her with an ultimatum two weeks later:
She could either be demoted to a staff position or be downgraded to a job assisting a male PI or resign from her current faculty position. She refused all options, the complaint said.

Subsequently, Duke allowed her contract to lapse, leaving her with 20 hours a week and unclear employment rights under the university’s internal policies, the suit said. According to the complaint, this resulted in her making far less than the $70-per-hour pay rate she was not only promised but also that the university was charging the federal government.

Therefore, she claims in the complaint Duke’s refusal to compensate her at the same pay rate as her male counterparts constitutes a violation of the Equal Pay Act.

The University’s Alleged Retaliation.

After she filed her complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Duke allegedly retaliated against her, according to the suit. This occurred when Duke tried to reclassify her to a nonfaculty position and deprive her of human resources (HR) services and grievance rights.

She also claims that the university interfered with her attempts to escape the discriminatory and retaliatory environment of the anesthesiology department. The complaint states that Duke required her to apply only for staff positions and refused to allow her to be hired as faculty by another department. Still, according to the suit, her supervisor “spread malicious and false information about her” and told her she was ineligible for a transfer. And by mid-2022, she said, her supervisor had begun to refuse to speak directly to her altogether.

Her suit seeks back pay, punitive damages, and attorney fees. To read the entire lawsuit (complaint), click here.

To read other legal documents, visit our website’s Articles and Documents section.

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, resident physicians and fellows, assisted living facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers. We represent principal investigators, clinical professors, medical researchers and others in defense of allegations of scientific misconduct, research fraud and similar matters.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative
hearings and in representing physicians in investigations and at institutional review board (IRB) investigations and hearings, and university academic hearings. We represent physicians accused of wrongdoing, in patient complaints, and in Department of Health investigations. Several of our attorneys act as expert witnesses in attorney’s fee litigation and in health law litigation.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.ThehealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Freedman, Emmy. “Duke Paid Female Scientist Less Than Male Peers, Suit Says.” Law360. (August 10, 2023). https://www.law360.com/health/articles/1709732?nl_pk=0cbd4c0b-c6c8-416a-9e67-b4affa63b102&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=health&utm_content=2023-08-11&read_main=1&nlsidx=0&nlaidx=18

Dalesio, Emery. “Duke University to Pay $54M to Settle Suit Over Hiring Agreement with UNC.” Insurance Journal. (June 7, 2019). https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2019/06/07/528679.htm

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Attorney Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm is always looking for qualified attorneys interested in the practice of health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a member of The Florida Bar and are interested, forward a cover letter and your resume to: KBrant@TheHealthLawFirm.com or fax to: (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

By |2023-10-10T11:06:15-04:00October 11, 2023|Categories: Medical Education Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Doctor’s Defamation Suit Okayed for Termination by University over Use of Resident Physicians

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

On July 11, 2023, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky allowed a doctor to move forward with one of his defamation claims against the university’s provost for allegations made to support his termination.

A medical doctor and oral surgeon at the University of Kentucky (UK) sued the university and university officials on multiple grounds, including making a defamation claim against the university’s provost. The defamation claim stems from the Statement of Charges made by the provost in the physician’s termination proceedings.

The Statement of Charges claims that the doctor stole from the UK, took credit for patient care services that a resident performed, caused the College of Dentistry to submit false claims to the federal government, and encouraged a colleague to falsify medical records.

The court granted summary judgment on three counts but denied summary judgment on the claim that the doctor stole from the university.

University of Kentucky Policy.

The UK employed the doctor from 2001 to 2019. Before 2017, UK policy approved by its Dental Care Board required its staff to designate the faculty member as the treatment provider on billing documents when a resident helped the faculty member with treatment and documented the care. During 2017, billing practices changed, and employees began designating residents as the treatment providers whenever the residents documented a patient’s care.

When the faculty member was designated as the treatment provider, the faculty member would be entitled to 40 percent of the fees paid.

University of Kentucky’s Investigation.

From April 2017 to July 2018, UK documents designated a resident as the treatment provider for 89 patients the plaintiffs doctor alleges he treated. The doctor, believing he was entitled to income for this care, reviewed the files and removed any reference to a resident from the patient notes, or so it is alleged in the pleadings.

The altered documents triggered an internal investigation. The university interviewed seven residents whose notes had been changed by the doctor. The residents confirmed that patient clinical care occurred in two ways: 1) they would treat the patient and present their findings to the doctor, and he would then reevaluate the patient, or 2) the resident and doctor would treat the patient simultaneously.

Since none of the 89 patients left without seeing the doctor, he alleges that he was entitled to the income for their care.

The investigation confirmed that there were no patient care issues. The issues were purely with the documentation of the patient care. The medical records do not reflect the services performed because the documents do not mention a resident providing care. The report alleges that the doctor removed all references to residents in the documentation solely to obtain compensation for these visits.

The university’s provost decided that the university needed to discipline the doctor for altering the medical records, most probably a prudent decision.

Disciplinary Actions.

The provost informed the doctor in January 2019 that university termination proceedings would begin. However, it is alleged that he did not follow the correct termination procedures. The provost decided to investigate further while suspending the doctor from clinical care pending the investigation’s outcome.

After this, the provost filed a Statement of Charges against the doctor, which began the administrative process to terminate tenured faculty. In the Statement of Charges, the provost claimed the doctor stole from the University of Kentucky, falsified medical records by claiming he provided services that a resident provided, caused the university to submit false claims to Medicare and Medicaid, and encouraged a colleague to behave similarly.

The doctor resigned and sued the university and university officials on multiple grounds, including the defamation claim against the provost for his four statements in the Statement of Charges.

Legal Proceedings.

The provost filed a motion for summary judgment for qualified privilege. Qualified privilege protects a speaker where the communication is one in which the party has an interest and it is made to another interested party.

In employment, qualified privilege applies to internal discussions and communications necessary to a company’s proper function and law enforcement. This protection will apply despite a statement’s falsity if the public interest in detecting wrongdoing outweighs the private interest for defamation if the suspicions are made in good faith.

Privilege can be overcome by showing actual malice and falsity in a statement. It is the burden of the plaintiff to defeat the assertion of qualified privilege. So, in this case, the doctor has to show that the provost’s four statements are false and were made maliciously.

In the present proceeding, the judge is not deciding if the statements are defamatory. The judge is only deciding if a jury could find the statements defamatory and whether to grant summary judgment in favor of UK.

The judge granted summary judgment in favor of the UK provost on three of the allegedly defamatory statements: 1) That the doctor falsified medical records, 2) That the doctor caused the university to submit false claims to the federal government, and 3) that the doctor influenced another faculty member to do the same.

Federal courts grant summary judgment if the moving party does not dispute a material fact. The moving party is entitled to judgment if there is no dispute between the parties. The judge found no disagreement with the statement that the doctor falsified medical records.

For the statement that the doctor caused the college to submit false claims to the government, the doctor could not overcome the qualified privilege that the provost had as a matter of law. The doctor failed to show that the provost knew or should have known that the allegation was false or that the provost spoke maliciously. Therefore, the qualified privilege stood, and that claim was dismissed.

The doctor also failed to show that the provost’s statement that the doctor influenced a colleague was false. Therefore, the doctor was also unable to defeat the qualified privilege for that statement.

The judge decided that the plaintiffs introduced sufficient evidence for a jury to decide whether he could defeat qualified privilege for the claim that he stole from the University of Kentucky. This evidence included the testimony of four other UK dentists stating that the doctor should have been designated as the treatment provider, not the residents. This means that it could be argued that the funds were earned by the plaintiff doctor and not stolen by him.

Evidence was also introduced to show that the provost recklessly disregarded the possibility that the statement was false. There was no evidence that the doctor failed to participate in caring for the patients at issue. All evidence showed that he did treat the patients with a resident. Because of this, the jury could conclude that he was entitled to the compensation and, therefore, did not steal it.

The judge denied summary judgment for the UK provost regarding the statement that the doctor stole from the University of Kentucky. However, summary judgment was granted in favor of the UK provost on the other three defamation claims dismissing them.

Click here to read the Memorandum Opinion and Order on our website.

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

At the Health Law Firm we represent dentists and oral surgeons, resident physicians and fellows, and other health professionals. We represent them in legal disputes and disciplinary cases against their universities and residency programs, in investigations and complaints against their licenses, in clinical privileges matters and peer review hearings, in administrative hearings and in complex litigation. We litigate cases in state and federal courts and in administrative forums. We have a great deal of experience in representing physicians against universities, medical schools, and graduate medical education programs. The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing physicians in investigations complaints before the board of dentistry and board of medicine.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.ThehealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Cunningham v. Blackwell, CIVIL 3:20-cv-00008-GFVT-EBA (E.D. Ky. Jul. 11, 2023)
“U.S. Court in Kentucky Allows Physicians Defamation Claim to go Forward in Termination Dispute.” American Health Law Association Health Law Weekly. (21 July 2023). https://www.americanhealthlaw.org/content-library/health-law-weekly/article/7db3086c-db3c-4f85-bad7-88802f937f14/U-S-Court-in-Kentucky-Allows-Physician-s-Defamation

About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law; he is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.

Hartley Brooks is a law clerk with 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 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

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

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

HCA Healthcare Data Breach May Affect 11 Million Patients

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

On July 11, 2023, HCA Healthcare, which operates 180 hospitals in the U.S. and Britain, said a hacker may have stolen the personal data of about 11 million patients in a data breach. A press release warned patients that critical personal information had been compromised, including their full name, city, and when and where they last saw a healthcare provider.

What Happened to the Patient Data?

Data samples, including addresses, phone numbers, e-mails, and birth dates, were posted to DataBreaches.net (an online forum popular with cyber crooks) by a hacker trying to sell them. However, after publication, an HCA spokesperson told CNBC that the sample data set published was only a “marketing campaign” (or fake data) and was not an individual patient’s real medical assessment.

Who is Affected?

The hack affects patients in nearly two dozen states, including those from dozens of Florida and Texas facilities. The data also included information on scheduled appointments and the medical departments involved. The hacker also dumped a file online in what appeared to be a failed attempt to extort HCA. It included nearly one million records from the company’s San Antonio division.

Patient data breaches are not uncommon, but they can vary in scope and effect. HCA’s breach did not include critical medical records. The company said that the breached data originated at an external storage location exclusively used to automate the formatting of e-mail messages.

HCA Healthcare will offer credit monitoring and identity protection services for patients who have been impacted. But in the meantime, the company is encouraging everyone to look out for spam calls, texts, or e-mails, targeting them for fraud and scams.

For more information on this topic, read one of my prior blogs.

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

At the Health Law Firm, we provide legal services for all healthcare providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, home health agencies, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, social workers, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare providers. It includes resident physicians and fellows, medical students, medical school professors, and clinical staff. We represent health 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, nurses, and mental health professionals in investigations for alleged wrongdoing, patient complaints, and Department of Health investigations.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call our office at (407) 331-6620 or toll-free at (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Bajak, Frank. “HCA Healthcare says data breach may affect 11 million patients in 20 states.” Associated Press (AP). (July 11, 2023). https://apnews.com/article/data-breach-hca-healthcare-hack-identity-theft-507d8b8915dd934a5be4bd6fb853dfb1

Galarza, Monica. “HCA Healthcare data breach impacts millions of patients, dozens of Florida facilities. Here’s what to know.” CNBC. (July 11, 2023). https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/business/money-report/hca-healthcare-data-breach-impacts-millions-of-patients-dozens-of-florida-facilities-heres-what-to-know/3069139/#:~:text=HCA%20Healthcare%20released%20a%20statement,locations%20of%20the%20patients’%20appointments

Goswami, Rohan. “HCA Healthcare patient data stolen and for sale by hackers.” CNBC.
(July 10, 2023). https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/10/hca-healthcare-patient-data-stolen-and-for-sale-by-hackers.html

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 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

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

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law

By |2023-10-10T11:18:59-04:00October 10, 2023|Categories: Nursing Law Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments
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