Doctors, Nurses and Health Care Professionals Take Heed: It is Always a Bad Idea to . . . .

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

In my 30 plus years of practice representing physicians, dentists, nurses and health care professionals, I have defended clients involved in many different situations. Several of these seem to be problem  areas which we see repeatedly. The following is a list of those problems which it would seem to be common sense for a physician or other health care professional to avoid doing.

I can assure you, it is always a bad idea for a physician or other health care professional to:

1. Write a prescription for any medication for yourself.

2. Start a romantic relationship with a patient.

3. Take someone else’s prescription medication, ever.

4. Write a prescription for or treat a patient, especially a family member, for a condition outside the scope of her specialty (e.g., a dentist prescribing antibiotics to her children to treat a cold;  a pediatrician prescribing pain medications for an adult;  a dentist writing a prescription for pain medications for a patient’s back pain;  an OB/GYN prescribing antidepressants for a male; podiatrist writing prescriptions for narcotics to treat back pain).
5. Write any prescription for or treat any patient who is in another state when the physician or health professional is not licensed in that state.

6. Treat or prescribe for any spouse, other family member, friend or colleague, without opening a medical record and fully documenting the treatment or prescription, as you would for any other patient.

7. Hire a patient to work for you in your office or, especially, allow a patient to “volunteer” to work in your office.

8. Pre-sign blank prescriptions for your physician assistant, ARNP, medical assistant, nurse, receptionist, or anyone else, to complete later, or have pre-signed blank prescriptions in your office.

9. Seek psychotherapy or drug/alcohol abuse treatment with a physician or health professional in your own medical group, institution or the staff of your own hospital.

10. Add to, alter or change any medical/dental record entry after you know there may be a claim, investigation or litigation involving it.

11. For a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselor,  social worker, psychiatric nurse practitioner) to have any type of social relationship with a current patient.

12. Take and use your own drug samples provided by pharmaceutical companies.

13. Go into a hospital where you do not have clinical privileges and treat or “assist” in treating a patient there, even if it is your own patient.

14. Have a sexual relationship ( including “sexting” or “telephone sex”) with a patient or patient’s immediate family member.

These are actual examples from cases in which I have had to represent licensed health professionals in defending their licenses and attempting to keep their jobs.  For each of the above, there have been more than one.

Avoid doing these things and you will be avoiding some of the major actions including charges and an investigation by your state licensing board, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), your national certification board, any facility at which you have privileges and other law enforcement agencies.

For more information on things that could be harmful to your professional license, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

To learn more about how The Health Law Firm can assist you, click here to visit our website’s areas of practice page.

Click here to view a powerpoint presentation from a previous lecture on how to protect your license.

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

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, 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 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Items health care professionals should avoid doing, legal representation for investigation by state licensing board, legal representation for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, DEA investigation defense attorney, legal representation for Board investigations, legal representation for Board complaints, legal representation for licensure revocation, license defense attorney, licensure defense for health care professionals, legal representation for health professionals, legal representation for DOH investigations, DOH defense attorney, legal representation for DOH complaints, legal representation for disciplinary actions,  legal representation for health professionals, legal representation for doctors, Legal counsel for licensure issues, licensure defense attorney, legal representation for suspended or revoked license, legal representation for adverse disciplinary actions, administrative defense attorney, legal representation for investigations and complaints, legal representation for administrative hearings, complaint investigation defense attorney for health care professionals, appeals (and variations on appeal ) of adverse license action, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm Attorneys, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Mentally Ill Inmate Gouges Out Own Eyes, Sues County for Negligence

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 7, 2017, a mentally ill inmate in the Boulder, Colorado, jail sued a sheriff in federal court, claiming that the jail staff failed to stop the man from using his fingers to gouge out his own eyes after several prior attempts to do so. The inmate sued the sheriff and 21 other jail employees in U.S. District Court in Denver. He claimed that he blinded himself because they failed to heed warning signs to treat his mental illness, according to the civil lawsuit filed by his Denver civil rights attorneys.

Inmate Negligence.

The inmate, who is now blind and suffers from deep, severe schizophrenic psychosis, is seeking monetary awards for negligence, including compensatory damages for physical and psychological injuries including pain and emotional distress and humiliation. He suffers from auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions and paranoia, according to the lawsuit.

On December 17, 2016, the inmate curled up in a ball in his cell with fingernails that hadn’t been cut for six weeks and plucked both of his eyes “completely out of his head,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also says jailers failed to respond to a series of precursor events in which the inmate said he would gouge his eyes out. In early 2016, he banged his head into his toilet, breaking seven teeth, the lawsuit says. Additionally, there were several prior attempts by the inmate to committed suicide.

Shane McGurk, the jail’s mental health program director, sought an emergency court order to get him psychiatric treatment. The judge ordered deputies to immediately take him to get psychiatric treatment. However, according to the lawsuit, the orders were ignored and the “Defendants’ willful and deliberate indifference to the inmate’s serious medical needs directly led to his self-mutilation, head and vertebrae injury, broken teeth and ultimately, to his permanent blindness.”

The jail failed to properly train officers in how to care for a mentally ill inmate, the lawsuit said.

This is not the first time an inmate or their families have sued for improper care during incarceration. Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar case.

It is an unfortunate reality that our society today tends to ignore citizens with true and severe mental health illnesses, choosing to treat them as criminals, instead. Instead of allocating funds for treatment, acting in a preventative manner, it prefers to spend the money for prisons and paying for incarceration. This is a complete shame. This poor, mentally ill individual suffers the consequences. Unfortunately, the officials who run our jails and prisons also suffer by being the treater of last resort, which is grossly unfair to them, as well. Our jail and prison officials should have a “safety relief valve” available to them where they can divert individuals who have been incarcerated because of their mental illnesses and obtain appropriate treatment for them.

Providing Representation For All Health Care Professionals.

Our firm has represented a number of nurses, physicians and other health care professionals who provide care in jails and prisons, as well as in other government facilities and institutions. We routinely represent physicians, nurses and advance practice nurses who work for the VA, the Department of Health, the county, the military, the Indian Health Service and other government agencies. Although government employees may have personal immunity from civil suits, they are not protected against termination and other employment actions, complaints against their professional license, National Practitioner Data Bank reports, and other types of administrative actions; our firm represents them in all of these. The government is not going to represent you in these. Call us at the first sign of a legal problem.

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

Sources:

Mitchell, Kirk. “Mentally Ill inmate sues for negligence.” The Denver Post. (December 8, 2017). Web.

Mitchell, Kirk. “Psychotic Boulder jail inmate gouges out own eyes, sues county for negligence.” The Denver Post. (December 7, 2017). Web.

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

KeyWords: Legal representation for government physicians, legal representation for government nurses, legal representation for mental health professionals, mental health defense attorney, legal representation of mental health counselors, mental health counselor defense attorney, legal defense of professional licensure cases, legal representation for Board of Nursing cases, legal representation for Board of Medicine cases, Board of Nursing investigation defense attorney, legal representation for peer review, legal representation for administrative actions, legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for psychiatrists, psychiatrists defense attorney, defense counsel for mental health professionals, health care lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews

“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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

First Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Hawaii Gets Green Light From DOH

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On August 8, 2017, after waiting 17 years, Hawaii will begin dispensary sales of medical marijuana to patients. Maui Grown Therapies got the green light from the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) to begin selling medical cannabis. I know (from reliable sources, that is) that Hawaiian grown marijuana has always been a favorite with the connoisseur.

Maui Grown Therapies.

The Maui dispensary has been pre-registering patients and will begin selling medical cannabis to patients by appointment only, said Freitas Gorman, director of community relations and patient affairs. Walk-in sales will start in about a week.

In 2000, Hawaii was among the first states to legalize medical marijuana. But the state didn’t legalize dispensaries until 2015, so the state’s 18,000 patients had to grow or obtain the drug on their own.

“This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use,” said Virginia Pressler, director of the state Department of Health, in a statement. “Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception.”

To read the press release from the DOH, click here.

To read more on the status of medical marijuana in Florida, click here to read my prior blog.

To learn more about how the attorneys of The Health Law Firm can assist you in legal matters involving medical marijuana, click here.

To stay on top of medical marijuana issues, be sure to check out our Medical Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical 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 draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

Sources:

Bussewitz, Cathy. “FIRST MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY OPENING IN HAWAII.” The Associated Press. (August 8, 2017). Web.

Department of Health. “First dispensary receives approval from Department of Health to
begin sales of medical cannabis for Hawai‘i patients.” State of Hawaii, DOH. (August 8, 2017). 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.

KeyWords: Medical marijuana legislation, medical marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana, legal representation for Department of Health issues, medical marijuana representation in Florida, Medical and recreational marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, complex health related business transactions, legal opinions on medical issues, legal representation for medical marijuana growers and distributors, legal counsel for medical marijuana, DOH defense attorney, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm reviews, Florida medical marijuana defense attorney, Board of Medicine defense lawyer, reviews of The Health Law Firm, access to medical marijuana in Florida, The Health Law Firm, legal representation for applicants of marijuana dispensary license, legal representation for marijuana dispensary medical directors, legal representation for contracts for marijuana related matters, legal representation for physicians and medical director agreements, legal representation for licensure and regulatory matters involving growers, legal representation for dispensaries and medical directors

“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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Inmates Family Sues Jail After Improper Care

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Orange Country Jail Sued.

A wrongful death suit has been filed against Orange County Jail due to what some are saying was a preventable death.  The suit was filed directly against Robert Buck, the head of the jails health services department, along with four nurses that cared for the late inmate.

Dog Bites Leads to Death In Jail.

In 2015, Max Gracia was arrested. During his arrest, he sustained many bites from one of the police dogs. He was treated in the hospital until he was stable. Once he was moved to the jail cell he was found unconscious and later died in the hospital. The autopsy reported that he died from an E Coli infection that stemmed from the dog bites. His mother, Willine Gracia, has filed the wrongful death suit claiming that her son received subpar care and as a result died.

Claimants Allege “A Culture of Neglect.”

Reportedly the medical staff of the jail stated that Garcia was exaggerating or faking the illness. The lawsuit claims the jail has a “culture of neglect”and this was really what was at work here.  Willine Gracia states that she hopes that this lawsuit will bring attention to the wrongful health care services so many inmates receive.

Providing Representation For All Health Care Professionals.

Our firm has represented a number of nurses, physicians and other health care professionals who provide care in jails and prisons, as well as in other government facilities and institutions.  We routinely represent physicians, nurses and advance practice nurses who work for the VA, the Department of Health, the county, the military, the Indian Health Service and other government agencies.  Although government employees may have personal immunity from civil suits, they are not protected against termination and other employment actions, complaints against their professional license, National Practitioner Data Bank reports, and other types of administrative actions;  our firm represents them in all of these.  The government is not going to represent you in these.  Call us at the first sign of a legal problem.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://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.

Sources:

Hayes, Christal. “Family Sues Orange County Jail, Nursing Staff after Inmate’s Death from Police-Dog Bite.” OrlandoSentinel.com, 1 Aug. 2017. (Print).

Walden, Tiffany. “Inmate Son Suffered Seizure before Death, Mom.” Orlando Sentinel. (16 Aug. 2016). Web.

Key Words: Legal representation for government physicians, legal representation for government nurses, legal defense of professional licensure cases, legal representation for Board of Nursing cases, legal representation for Board of Medicine cases, Board of Nursing investigation defense attorney, legal representation for peer review, legal representation for administrative actions, legal representation for VA physicians, legal representation for VA nurses,  health care lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews

“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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Jury Awards $4.4 Million To Chicago Anesthesiologist Defrauded By Business Associate

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

On June 9, 2017, a jury in Illinois awarded a Chicago-area anesthesiologist nearly $4.4 million. The jury unanimously agreed that his business associate defrauded him on a revenue sharing agreement and fraudulently reported his earnings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The jury found that Dr. Martin R. Hall, owner of Keystone Orthopedic Specialists SC (Keystone), stuck Dr. Nicholas Angelopoulos with unwarranted expenses throughout the course of their business dealings. The jury ultimately agreed in favor of Dr. Angelopoulos on all five counts, including two breach of contract counts, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and violation of IRS code.

 

A Sour Business Deal.

According to Dr. Angelopoulos, when he began to question Dr. Hall’s business expenditures, Dr. Hall would not provide sufficient documentation for the purchases. Dr. Angelopoulos also claimed he was not receiving credit for all of his billings. Additionally, over the course of their three-year working relationship, Dr. Angelopoulos claimed that Dr. Hall made payments to his family members, including his wife and his sister, without disclosing it to the other business associates.

In 2008 after Dr. Angelopoulos left Keystone, Dr. Hall came to him with a hand-written tabulation of more than $150,000 Dr. Angelopoulos allegedly owed to Keystone. Dr. Angelopoulos rejected the amount saying it was false.

Fraudulent Reports to the IRS.

In response to the rejection, Dr. Hall then allegedly reported a payment of $159,577.45 to Dr. Angelopoulos in tax documents filed with the IRS. Dr. Hall claimed that it was for the alleged outstanding debt plus an alleged bonus, which Dr. Angelopoulos claimed he never received, according to court documents. Because of this, in 2011 the IRS came after Dr. Angelopoulos for taxes on Dr. Hall’s reported payment, settling the taxable amount at about $120,000.

In the end, jurors agreed with Dr. Angelopoulos that these numbers were inaccurately reported by Dr. Hill in the first place. Additionally, the jury rejected Dr. Hall’s counterclaim arguing that Dr. Angelopoulos still owed him the money.

To view the court document’s in this case, click here.

To read an article I wrote on how to prevent employee embezzlement which was featured in Medical Economics, click here.

To learn more about complex business litigation and examples of how The Health Law Firm can help you, click here.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Business Transactions and Contracts.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for physicians, dentists, and the owners of medical practices. We represent owners, shareholders and employees in shareholder disputes, contract litigation, complex healthcare transactions and complex business litigation. This includes psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We also represent health facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The services we provide include disputes with health insurers, defense of audits, litigation of overpayment demands, reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. Our attorneys litigate in state courts, federal courts, state administrative hearings and federal administrative hearings. We represent plaintiffs and defendants in complex litigation matters.

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

Source:

Simpson, Dave. “Jury Awards $4.4M To Doc Defrauded By Associate.” Law360. (June 7, 2017). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: Florida health law attorney, medical practice shareholder dispute lawyer, partnership break-up attorney, health law defense attorney, complex business litigation attorney, legal representation for contract negotiations, legal representation for health mergers and acquisitions, DOJ Antitrust Division lawyer, legal representation for complex business litigation, legal representation for contract disputes, legal representation for complex health care litigation, health care litigation attorney, complex litigation lawyer, medical practice ownership litigation, medical clinic employemnt dispute lawyer, legal counsel for health care business transactions, legal representation for health care contracts, contract negotiations lawyer, 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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Makes Changes to Florida Impaired Practitioners Program

indest1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On May 31, 2017, Florida Governor, Rick Scott, signed into law House Bill 229 (Ch. 2017-41, Laws of Florida), which made changes to the statutory basis for Florida’s impaired practitioner programs. The impaired practitioner program for nurses in Florida is the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN), which is a for-profit corporation, The impaired practitioner program for doctors, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, and all other licensed health professionals is the Professionals Resource Network (PRN), a non-profit corporation.

The program, as envisioned in the statute, is designed to assist health care practitioners who are impaired as a result of the misuse or abuse of alcohol or drugs, or of a mental or physical condition, which could affect the ability to practice with skill and safety.

Revisions to the Program.

The new law requires DOH to establish terms and conditions of the program by contract, provides contract terms, requires DOH to refer practitioners to consultants and revises grounds for refusing to issue or renew license, certificate, or registration in health care professions.

A significant change in the program involved a licensee’s duty to report colleagues that have or are suspected of having an impairment. The new law creates an exception to the mandatory reporting of an impairment to the DOH. The new revision will allow a licensee who knows that a person is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety due to an impairment, to report such information to the consultant, rather than DOH. Both the core licensure statute and individual practice acts are amended to include this language.

Be sure to check Florida’s DOH website regularly for news and updates, here.

To learn more about how The Health Law Firm can help you with matters involving the DOH, click here.

If You Are Instructed to Contact IPN or PRN, Call an Attorney First.

If you are ever instructed by your employer or anyone else to report yourself to the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN) or to the Professionals Resource Network (PRN), consult with an experienced health law attorney first. There are many problems that you can avoid by having good legal advice before you make a stupid mistake. We are often consulted and retained by clients when after they have made mistakes in talking to the wrong people about the wrong things and are in a situation they could have avoided.

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

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, 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. We represent impaired physicians and other health professionals in Professional Resource Network (PRN) and disruptive physician 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:

“Changes to Florida Reporting for Impaired Practitioners.” Holland & Knight LLP. (June 7, 2017). Web.

Mckown, Mia. “Changes to Florida Reporting for Impaired Practitioners.” Lexology. (June 7, 2017). Web.

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

KeyWords: Legal representation for impaired physicians, Legal representation for Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN) attorney, Professionals Resource Network (PRN) defense legal counsel, DOH investigation defense attorney, legal representation for investigations against health care professionals, legal representation for Florida DOH investigations, Florida DOH representation, DOH complaint defense, legal representation for DOH complaint, Florida impaired practitioners program, legal representation for PRN matters, legal representation for IPN matters, legal representation for disruptive physician issues, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, changes to Florida impaired practitioners program, legal representation for health care investigations, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm

“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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

Medical Students, Interns & Residents Beware: A Finding of “Irregular Behavior” Can Ruin Your Medical Career Before it Starts

4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A medical student, intern or resident may receive a letter from the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), United States Medical Licensee Examination (USMLE) Secretariat advising them that they are suspected of “irregular behavior” on a Step examination. In the case of graduates of foreign medical schools, this will be a letter from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). Although “irregular behavior” is not the same thing as “cheating,” it is often thought of as the same by medical school officials and residency program directors.

A notice of irregular behavior may delay your entry into a residency program, your graduation from medical school and your potential job opportunities. Your examination scores will be held up while the matter is investigated until a Committee review or hearing can be held.

It is imperative that anyone accused of irregular behavior immediately consult with legal counsel experienced in such matters. At The Health Law Firm, we have represented a number of medical students, interns and residents in hearings on irregular behavior and we have consulted with many before on these matters.

Don’t Listen to Bad Advice.

The following are examples of erroneous advice we have heard was given to those accused of irregular behavior:

1. You shouldn’t have a lawyer represent you in such matters because this will make the Committee angry at you.

2. You don’t need a lawyer because you can just explain it yourself.

3. You just write a statement and explain it; the Committee will understand and find in your favor.

4. You do not need to request a hearing on it because if you submit documents, the Committee will review them, find in your favor and no hearing will be necessary.

5. If you request a hearing on the matter, you do not need to attend it in person.

6. If you request a hearing, an attorney is not allowed to represent you at the hearing.

7. You should not worry about the Committee finding against you because you can always appeal the finding or sue in court.

The above advice is wrong. The only advice you should listen to is the advice of an attorney who is experienced in handling matters of irregular behavior.

The Importance of Retaining Experienced Legal Defense.

The biggest problem faced by an individual accused of irregular behavior who does have a valid defense is to concisely and adequately explain the situation. Additionally, you must produce evidence that supports what you are saying.

Someone who is not trained in the legal profession and who is not familiar with such hearings will be unfamiliar with the process even though such hearings are not as formal as court hearings. Additionally, it is easy for a non-lawyer who is not familiar with the rules of the USMLE to fail to address those concerns and get side tracked on irrelevant matters.

Additionally, documents, statements, affidavits, expert witness reports and other documents presented to the Committee as evidence should be well organized, indexed, with a table of contents, pages numbered and summarized. This will better present an organized, easily understood defense. Sending in a few stray documents with no organization or explanation how the documents relate to the issues can be far less than effective.
Consequences of an Irregular Behavior Finding.

If a finding of irregular behavior is made against you, then this usually means that your best score is voided and you must retake it. The Committee may require you to wait a year or more to retake the examination. This can prevent you from obtaining or entering a residency program or it may delay you from graduating. Furthermore, the notation that you were found to have committed irregular behavior will be placed on your Step exam transcript. This will be reported out when your test scores are reported.

As indicated above, many medical decision makers view this as similar to cheating. It may disqualify you for many jobs or residency programs that you would otherwise be considered for.

If the time and money you have spent on your medical career is valued by you, you will act promptly to retain legal counsel experienced in USMLE hearings and procedures to represent you. You wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself. You shouldn’t attempt to represent yourself in such legal matters.

The takeaway message is that retaining an attorney to represent you against irregular behavior allegations could be the difference between a clear record and a mark that will follow you for the rest of your career. Don’t risk jeopardizing your future as a healthcare practitioner. Consult with an attorney as soon as you receive notice of allegations against you regarding irregular behavior.

To learn more on the repercussions of findings of irregular behavior, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Matters of Irregular Behavior Today.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to medical students, residents, interns and fellows in irregular behavior allegations, USMLE issues, academic disputes, graduate medical education (GME) hearings, contract negotiations, license applications, board certification applications and hearings, credential hearings, and civil and administrative litigations.

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

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

KeyWords: Legal representation for allegations of irregular behavior, legal representation for USMLE investigations, National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), irregular behavior defense attorney, legal representation for medical students, legal representation for medical residents, United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), legal representation for USMLE hearings , legal counsel for USMLE appeals, health law defense attorney, ECFMG defense counsel, ECFMG legal representation, ECFMG hearing attorney, medical student attorney, medical resident lawyer, medical intern attorney, legal representation for civil proceeding, legal representation for criminal proceeding, legal representation for administrative proceeding, medical administrative hearings defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm reviews, USMLE Committee for Individualized Review (CIR) hearing attorney, ECFMG Committee for Individualized Review (CIR) hearing lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of The Health Law Firm, P.A., and Florida professional service corporation, since 1999, and is also a registered service mark. Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.