Florida Medicaid Audits Dental Claims

MLS02PJGBy Michael L. Smith, R.R.T., J.D., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is auditing Medicaid claims submitted by dental providers in Florida. AHCA is auditing dental practices looking for claims that were not billed in compliance with the Florida Medicaid Dental Services Coverage and Limitations Handbook. AHCA’s audits are focused on claims that are billed too frequently, claims that are billed on the same date of service as a redundant code, and claims that have been unbundled when they should have been billed as part of a comprehensive code.

Specific Dental Codes Being Audited.

Dental providers that are the subject of these audits may not learn of the audit until they receive the Preliminary Audit Report. It is extremely important to immediately retain experienced health care counsel if you receive a Preliminary Audit Report so that a timely rebuttal with additional documents can be submitted. The audits are performed by the AHCA based entirely on the claims submitted by the provider.

Some of the specific procedure codes included in the audits are:

- D0120,
- D0272,
- D1110,
- D1120,
- D1203,
- D1330,
- D0150,
- D0210,
- D0330,
- D4355, and
- D4341.

Take Preliminary Audit Reports Seriously.

Every dental provider that receives a Preliminary Audit Report from AHCA has a limited time to respond to the audit. AHCA may also impose sanctions and assess costs against dental providers in these audits. Any dental provider that receives notice of an audit by the Agency should contact legal counsel experienced in these matters without delay.

Click here for a previous blog on tips for responding to an AHCA audit.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Board of Dentistry and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

Our firm also routinely represents physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, home health care agencies, nursing homes and other health care providers in AHCA investigations, audits and recovery actions, as well as Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits and recovery actions.

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

Comments?

Have you ever received a Preliminary Audit Report from the AHCA? Did you know how to respond? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

About the Author: Michael L. Smith, R.R.T., J.D., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2014 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Board of Dentistry Warns About Responding to or Consulting with Individuals Over Internet About Dental Issues

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

At the Florida Board of Dentistry meeting held on November 15, 2013, one of the committee chairs discussed an issue that has arisen nationally that is causing dentists legal problems. The issue arises when individuals contact a dentist over the internet seeking “information” on a dental condition or problem, and possible treatment or procedures that can resolve these issues.

The concern is that the dentist may actually be diagnosing a dental condition or problem the individual has. The bigger concern arises if the individual contacting the dentist is in a different state from the one in which the dentist is licensed. Then the dentist is actually practicing dentistry in the state in which the individual is located.

In this blog I will discuss some of the issues a dentist can encounter when diagnosing a condition or problem over the internet. I will also talk about ways a dentist can reduce his or her risk.

Issues Dentists Can Face When Diagnosing a Condition Over the Web.

Diagnosing a non-patient over the internet can cause a myriad of different problems for the dentist involved, including these situations:

1. By diagnosing in a state in which the dentist is not licensed, he or she is engaging in the unlicensed practice of dentistry in that state. This can lead to criminal charges in that state and disciplinary actions in the state where the dentist is licensed.

2. Cases have arisen where incorrect diagnoses have been rendered because the individual failed to provide complete information, and the dentist failed to physically examine the individual or follow other procedures normally followed.

3. There have been instances where such individuals have filed complaints or claims against dentists for providing them information upon which they relied.

4. In most cases, a dentist’s professional liability (dental malpractice) insurance will not cover professional negligence in another state.

Recommendations to Reduce Risk.

I recommend that dentists take the following steps to help reduce risk if involved in providing information to non-patients over the internet or in the media (radio, television, newspaper, etc.):

1. Make sure that you have proper warnings and disclaimers that are included in every such e-mail communication or listserv communication you make.

A. Include the state in which the dentist is licensed/practicing and explain that the communication is not considered to be diagnosing, prescribing, treating or practicing any profession in any other state or jurisdiction.

B. Include a disclaimer or statement in every e-mail listserv or other communication with non-patients that you are providing general information for educational purposes only, and the individual must seek and follow the advice of a dentist in his or her geographic area to make any diagnoses.

C. Include that the person receiving the information cannot rely on it for treatment purposes since an actual physical examination must take place before any reliable information/recommendations can be made in any individual’s case.

2. Inquire with your professional liability insurer or agent to ask about “broad form coverage” and attempt to obtain coverage that includes educational activities, marketing activities and other similar activities. Make sure the “broad form coverage” also covers these activities in different states.

3. Make sure your professional liability insurance provides coverage for legal expenses involved in defending against administrative complaints and investigations initiated by any state or federal agency that could result in disciplinary action against you or your license. You probably need at least $25,000 in coverage for this. However, $50,000 or $75,000 in coverage for such matters is preferred. Buy this coverage separately if necessary. Lloyd’s of London provides such coverage separately.

4. Find out where the individual contacting you resides or is communicating from. Require complete information, including complete name, address and telephone numbers.

5. Be extremely reluctant to criticize care, services, procedures, materials or appliances used or prescribed by other dentists.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Board of Dentistry 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.

Comments?

Have you ever been asked to consult with a patient over the internet? Did you know all of these issues could up? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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.

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Connecticut Dentist Gets Drilled in Huge Medicaid Fraud Case

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 dentist and owner of a number of clinics in Connecticut is feeling the pain of justice. According to a number of news sources, Gary Anusavice will spend the next eight (8) years in prison for targeting poor patients, performing unnecessary dental procedures and collecting $21 million in fraudulent Medicaid claims. He was sentenced on October 9, 2013.

To read an article on the dentist’s sentencing from The Hartford Courant, click here.

Dentist Must Forfeit Luxury Items.

On top of prison time, the dentist will have to pay $3.3 million in restitution and $1.9 million to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a result of his Medicaid fraud scheme, according to The Hartford Courant. He was also ordered to forfeit his mansion, a 2008 Mercedes-Benz, a yacht and more than $91,000 in cash that was found in his home.

According to news reports, this is far from the first time he has been accused of defrauding the Medicaid program.

Dentist Previously Barred from Practicing in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

According to an article in the Connecticut Post, the dentist had previous run-ins with authorities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island involving health care fraud. Both states allegedly stripped him of his dental licenses. He was also allegedly barred from participating in Medicaid in those states.

Since the dentist could no longer practice in those states, in 2008, he opened three dental groups in Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Post. In these new practices, it’s alleged he hired other dentists and offered them commissions for performing expensive procedures, paid patient recruiters to solicit poor neighborhoods, and provided shuttle services for patients. In two years, his Connecticut clinics received $21 million in Medicaid payments, according to the Connecticut Post.

Click here to read the Connecticut Post article.

In June 2013, the dentist pleaded guilty to health care fraud and tax evasion.

Being Barred from the Medicare and Medicaid Program Can have Devastating Effects.

Few health care practitioners really understand the significance of being excluded from the Medicare or Medicaid programs. Exclusion usually occurs as a direct result of disciplinary action being taken by the state board of medicine, board of nursing, board of dentistry, board of pharmacy or other health care licensing entity. To read more on the effects of exclusion from the Medicare or Medicaid programs, click here.

Take Fraud Charges Seriously.

If you are accused of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, realize that you are in the fight of your life. Your liberty, life and profession are at stake. You need to sell everything you own, borrow everything you can and hire the absolute best criminal defense attorney available who has experience in defending such cases to represent you.

If you win and are acquitted, at least you still have a professional license and can start over. However, if you lose, you will most probably be in prison for years. You will lose your license. You will be excluded from Medicare. You will be a convicted felon. You will have nothing and will have no way of starting over successfully.

Do not delude yourself. This is extremely serious. Be prepared to give up whatever you have if you can avoid a conviction.

Often Fraud Claims Can Give Rise to Large Rewards Paid to Whistleblowers.

Practically every state now has statues which allow a monetary recovery to be a person bringing a claim on behalf of the state for false Medicaid payments. These are modeled after the federal False Claims Act, used to reward whistleblowers or qui tam relators for recovers in Medicaid fraud cases.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Medicaid Audits, Investigations and other Legal Proceedings.

Medicaid fraud is a serious crime and is vigorously investigated by the state MFCU, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the Zone Program Integrity Contractors (ZPICs), the FBI, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Often other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and other law enforcement agencies participate. Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you are concerned of any possible violations and would like a confidential consultation, contact a qualified health attorney familiar with medical billing and audits today. Often Medicaid fraud criminal charges arise out of routine Medicaid audits, probe audits, or patient complaints.

The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities (AFLs), home health care agencies, nursing homes, group homes and other healthcare providers in Medicaid and Medicare investigations, audits and recovery actions.

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

Comments?

Why was it so simple for the dentist to move to another state and continue to defraud Medicaid after being previously reprimanded for the same crime? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Mahony, Edmund. “Dentist in Massive Medicaid Fraud Case Sentenced to 8 Years.” The Hartford Courant. (October 9, 2013). From: http://www.courant.com/health/connecticut/hc-medicaid-fraud-1010-20131009,0,1388813.story

Mayko, Michael. “Fraudulent Dentel-Group Owner Sentenced.” Connecticut Post. (October 9, 2013). From: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Fraudulent-dental-group-owner-sentenced-4883112.php
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.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Law Prohibits Control of a Dental Practice by a Nondentist

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Florida has long been a state that does not prohibit the corporate practice of medicine, unlike many other states. However, it does prohibit the corporate practice of dentistry.  The key provision in Florida law that establishes this is Section 466.028, Florida Statutes, but the Florida Board of Dentistry has also adopted administrative rules on this topic, as well.

What this means is that any corporation (or other type of business entity) that owns or operates a dental practice, under Florida law, must be one solely owned by and controlled by dentists. In this context, the term “dentists” means those licensed to practice dentistry in the state of Florida, with an active license.  Someone licensed in another state or who has a suspended or revoked license in Florida, would not meet that requirement.

Dentists Entering into Certain Types of Contracts Needs to Be Sure They Comply with the Law.

There may be certain types of contracts and agreements that a dentist or dental practice may legally enter into, especially ones that would provide administrative services or other types of non-professional services to the dentist.  These might include, for example, payroll services, staffing services (except for professional staff such as dental technicians), billing and collections services (provided the dentist retains final authority over such matters), marketing services, equipment leases (provided the dentists retains all control over the equipment), office leases, management services, or combinations of the above.  However, since any of these types of agreements may be worded so as to violate the law, a dentist should always have such an agreement reviewed in advance by his or her own experienced health attorney.  The dentist entering into any such contract must make sure he or she complies fully with the law.

Section 466.028(2), Florida Statutes, states that the purpose of the statute is to prevent any nondentists from attempting to influence or interfere with the professional judgment of the dentist.

Acts Prohibited by Law.

Acts specifically prohibited by the law include allowing a nondentist or business entity owned by a nondentist to:

1.    Employ a dentist or dental hygienist in the operation of a dental office;

2.    Control the use of any dental equipment or material while such equipment or material is being used for the provision of any dental services;

3.    Direct, control or interfere with a dentist’s clinical judgment;  and, specifically,

4.    Allowing any nondentist or organization owned by a nondentist to exercise control over:

a.    The selection of a course of treatment for a patient, the procedures or materials to be used as part of such course of treatment, and the manner in which such course of treatment is carried out by the dentist;

b.    The patient records of a dentist;

c.    Policies and decisions relating to pricing, credit, refunds, warranties and advertising; or

d.    Decisions relating to office personnel and hours of practice.

Violating Law is a Felony.

Any of these acts can result in disciplinary action against any licensed dental professional involved. More importantly, violation of this law is also a felony which may result in criminal prosecution for any person involved.  Contracts which violate the law are null and void.

Always have any contract relating to the operation of your dental practice reviewed by an experienced board certified health lawyer before signing it.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Board of Dentistry 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.

Comments?

Did you know about this Florida Law that prohibits control of a dental practice by a nondentist? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

What Should I Do If I Have Property That Is the Subject of a Seizure under the Civil Forfeiture Act?

5 Indest-2008-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The civil forfeiture of property has become a popular tool for state and federal agencies to fight alleged criminal activity.  It is a civil proceeding that permits the government to seize personal property if it is believed that the property is “proceeds of criminal activity.”  The civil forfeiture law allows government authorities, usually police authorities, to gain possession of a person’s property without any determination of guilt or innocence of the person involved.

What Actions Cause Property to be Seized?

Typically, a forfeiture action begins when personal property is seized after an arrest. During the raid government agents can take everything that could help build a criminal prosecution. This can include paper records, computer equipment, money, cell phones and cars.

We are seeing more cases where both local and federal law enforcement authorities are using the civil forfeiture laws to seize property in cases where there are allegations of Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, “pill mill” operations, pharmacies filling an excess number of pain management prescriptions (charged as “drug trafficking” by law enforcement), and physicians and clinics writing an excess number of pain management prescriptions (also charged as “drug trafficking” by law enforcement).

Actions to Take If Your Property is Seized.

If you are the subject of a seizure, always ask for an inventory of the items taken, obtain a receipt, and obtain the contact information of each agent or police official involved.  Act to preserve any property that is not seized.

Next, contact an attorney experienced in defending against such seizures right away.  You have a number of rights and opportunities to get your property back.  However, there is a very short time period to request a preliminary hearing on the matter.

Act Quickly to Regain Your Property.

We believe the government’s use of civil forfeitures is to shut down the alleged criminal and make it so the victim cannot hire an attorney. However, there are defenses and often the government exceeds the bounds of propriety. The key to success in civil forfeiture actions is to immediately consult with an experienced attorney after the property has been seized. Your best defense is to act quickly.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Civil Forfeiture Cases.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, mental health counselors and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, civil forfeitures, inspections and audits involving the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

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

Comments?

What do you think of the Civil Forfeiture Act being used against health care professionals and health facilities? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

More Than 7,000 Patients of Oklahoma Dentist Are Being Asked to Get Tested for HIV and Hepatitis

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

The unsanitary practices of an Oklahoma dentist may have exposed more than 7,000 patients to HIV and hepatitis, according to a number of media sources and the Oklahoma Department of Health (DOH). Currently officials with the Oklahoma DOH are contacting all of the dentist’s patients since 2007, and urging them to get tested for blood-borne diseases. Since the news broke on March 28, 2013, the dentist has voluntarily closed his two offices and surrendered his dental license for 30 days.

Click here to read a copy of the letter from Oklahoma DOH warning the dentist’s patients to get tested.

We want to point out that these are just allegations made against the dentist at this point in time and have not been proven by the state.

Dentist Accused of Being a “Menace to the Public” in Complaint.

According to the complaint filed with the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry, the dentist is allegedly facing 17 allegations from The Board due to the violations against his practice.

Alleged charges against the dentist include:

1.  A patient testing positive for HIV and hepatitis C;

2.  The dental practice being unsafe, unsanitary and lacking of sterilization checks;

3.  Committing gross negligence related to decisions related to the dental health care of patients;

4.  Practicing dentistry without the proper display of licenses and certifications;

5.  Violation of provisions of the State Dental Practice Act by failing to keep a suitable record of dangerous drugs;

6.  Unlawful practices in authorizing dental assistants to practice dentistry; and

7.  Having open vials of medications and unsanitary dental materials in an unclean environment.

Click here to read the complaint.

Dentist Admitted to Not Handling Sterilization and Drugs Procedures.

According to the complaint, a device in the dentist’s office used to sterilize dental instruments wasn’t working properly. An inspector also found two separate sets of instruments. Each set was cleaned differently, one set of instruments was for patients known to have infectious diseases, and one set was for those not believed to have such diseases. Oklahoma DOH officials said the proper approach is for all instruments to be handled as if they contain viruses and infectious diseases.

According to an article in The New York Times, the dentist allegedly told officials during one inspection of his office that his staff handled all sterilization and drug procedures. Click here to read the entire article from The New York Times.

Dentist Faces Hearing at State Board of Dentistry.

According to the Oklahoma DOH, the dentist has been a state-licensed dentist since 1974, and an oral surgeon since 1977. He faces the possibility of having his license revoked, after a hearing on April 19, 2013, at the state Board of Dentistry in Oklahoma. This investigation is ongoing.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health Investigations of Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI 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 http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of this dentist’s story? Are you curious as to how the practice got so bad? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Oklahoma Board of Dentistry State of Oklahoma v. Wayne Scott Harrington, D.M.D. Case Number 13-005. Statement of Complaint. (March 28, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/OK%20Dentist%20Complaint.pdf

Ball, Brandi. “Tulsa County Dentist May Have Exposed 7,000 Patients to HIV, Hepatitis.” News on 6. (March 28, 2013). From: http://www.newson6.com/story/21820518/tulsa-county-dentist-may-have-exposed-patients-to-hiv-hepatitis

Oklahoma State Department of Health. “Tulsa Health Department, Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma Board of Dentistry Investigate Tulsa Dentist.” (March 28, 2013). From: http://bit.ly/ZwRhRT

Fernandez, Manny. “Tests Start for Patients of Dentist in Inquiry.” The New York Times. (March 29, 2013). From: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/health/dental-patients-in-oklahoma-warned-of-disease-risk.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 the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Locating a Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) Insurance Defense Attorney in Florida Company Cases

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

We are sometimes told by the health professionals we represent especially pharmacists, licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs), advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs), massage therapists and physical therapists that after they received a complaint regarding their license from the Florida Department of Health (DOH) they had difficulty finding an experienced attorney in Florida who would accept their professional liability insurance.  In this case, I am speaking specifically about Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) Insurance.

HPSO Insurance Helps Cover Costly Legal Fees.

The professionals who are covered by HPSO Insurance have excellent insurance coverage.  HPSO Insurance provides professional liability coverage that protects in the event of a lawsuit or negligence claim.  But much more often the professional receives a notice of an investigation, a subpoena for a deposition in someone else’s case, a demand because of an allegation of sexual harassment or sexual impropriety, a complaint because of a breach of medical records confidentiality or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy complaint, or some other administrative type of action.

HPSO provides great coverage for these.  For example, HPSO currently reimburses up to $10,000 in legal fees and expenses just for representation of you at depositions.  HPSO currently reimburses up to $25,000 in legal fees and expenses for your defense in a DOH or Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) notice of investigation or complaint.  HPSO currently reimburses up to $25,000 in legal fees and expenses for your legal representation in defense of a complaint or investigation regarding breach of medical confidentiality.

If you are a pharmacist, own a pharmacy, are a massage therapist, own an assisted living facility (ALF), are a mental health counselor or a social worker, or you are one of the many other types of health care professionals who HPSO insures, it should be fairly easy to find experienced health lawyers to represent you, especially in Florida.

Our firm and our attorneys, including George F. Indest III, Michael L. Smith, Joanne Kenna, Carole C. Schriefer, Lance O. Leider, Christopher E. Brown and Danielle M. Murray, routinely represent licensed health care professionals, interns and students in all types of administrative investigations and hearings and in defending lawsuits and other actions that have been filed.  We also represent health facilities in license defense, survey complaints and administrative hearings.  We represent them throughout Florida, from Pensacola to Jacksonville, to Key West.  We also occasionally represent them in other states, as well.  We accept HPSO Insurance assignments.

 

It’s Time to Get Insurance.

It is very important for every health professional to carry insurance that covers any investigation, complaint or administrative hearing that might be filed or opened against your license.  You may think that you are covered for this by your employer, but you are not.  If your employer contradicts this, ask for a statement in writing that your employer will pay for your legal defense for any such matter arising during your employment.

What typically happens, especially in the case of a hospital employee, nursing home employee, pharmacy employee or corporate employee, is that the employer is the one who terminates the employee and then files a complaint with the DOH.  The DOH then opens an investigation against the health professional.  The employer is not going to pay your legal defense costs if the employer has reported you.

You may very well be out of work, out of money and face an investigation and complaint that could terminate your professional license and career.  You should not take this chance.  Insurance such as HPSO Insurance is inexpensive and reliable.  Buy it while you can afford it. After the actions have occurred, it is too late.

Contact an Experienced Health Law Attorney if You are Contacted by an Investigator.

Also, you should immediately contact an experienced health law attorney if you are telephoned or visited by any investigator, or if you receive a letter advising you that an investigation has been opened regarding your care.  Call immediately for advice before you speak with an investigator or provide any documents or statements of any kind.

You cannot and should not seek “legal advice” on what to do from the investigator, from a DOH employee, from your professional board or from any attorney representing any of them.  They are not your friends.  They are on the side against you. You should definitely not take any advice from them.

Understand all Insurance Policies are Not the Same.

If you have good insurance, it will pay for your legal expenses from the very beginning, so use it.  However, beware of cheap insurance policies from professional associations that do not provide any coverage for disciplinary complaints and licensure investigations.  Always check to be sure this is covered.  Get it in writing.  With some companies you have to pay an extra premium to obtain this coverage.  With some insurers, they do not offer it, and you have to purchase a completely separate policy covering just this.  It is worth it!  Do it!

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

Our firm regularly represents physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, massage therapists, mental health counselors, registered nurses (RNs), assisted living facilities (ALFs), home health agencies, nurse practitioners, lab technicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, social workers, physician assistants, psychologists and other health professionals in many different legal matters.

Services we provide include representation before your professional board in DOH investigations, in administrative hearings, in civil litigation, in defense of malpractice claims, in professional licensing matters, in defense of allegations concerning HIPAA privacy violations and medical record breaches, in Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) actions, and in many other matters.

In cases in which the health care professional has professional liability insurance or general liability insurance which provides coverage for such matters, we will seek to obtain coverage by your insurance company and will attempt to have your legal fees and expenses covered by your insurance company.  If allowed, we will agree to take an assignment of your insurance policy proceeds in order to be able to submit our bills directly to your insurance company.

We also defend health professionals and health facilities in general litigation matters and business litigation matters.

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

Comments?

Do you have professional liability insurance? Why or why not. Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Dentists: Beware of Nationwide Telephone Prescription Drug Scam – Callers Claim to be DEA Agents

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is warning dentists to be aware of a prescription drug scam. This telephone scheme is extorting money from people all over the country. On November 28, 2012, the DEA released a press release explaining the details of the scam.

Be Wary of Criminals Asking for Money Over the Phone.

The scam starts with criminals posing as DEA agents calling victims by telephone. Frequently the victims will have recently purchased prescription drugs over the internet or by phone. The imposters tell the victims that purchasing the drugs in that manner is illegal, and that they must pay a fine. If the victims refuse to send money, the phony DEA agents threaten to arrest the victims or search their property. Some of the victims have also reported unauthorized use of their credit cards after purchasing the prescription drugs.

Click here to read more on this scam from a DEA press release.

The DEA wants to remind dentists that no DEA agent will ever contact a person by telephone. They might show up at your house early in the morning or while you are eating dinner, however. Also, agents never request money or any other form of payment.

What Dentists Need to Know About Purchasing Drugs Over the Phone or On the Internet.

Many times it may be illegal to purchase controlled drugs by phone or over the internet. That’s why you should go to Canada to do it. There are direct flights from Orlando. However, some pharmacies that meet stringent requirements and are registered by the DEA are allowed to sell drugs over the internet or by phone. So don’t be fooled by this telephone scam.

Where Does this Information Come From?

The scammers are counting on the fact that if you have done this, you will get scared, as a dentist, and believe their accusations. Many people have no idea whether such conduct is legal or illegal. These imposters are banking on your ignorance and fear of losing your license. They are also banking on the fact you won’t report this to the real police.

Where do they get this information? Chances are, they are just “cold-calling” people. There are bound to be a certain number of people they reach who have done this. However, if they seem to have your personal information (or credit card number) report this to the police right away. Be sure to obtain a written police report. Also, you should file a HIPAA Privacy Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to begin an investigation if you believe your personal information has been stolen by or given to someone else to use.

Are Strict Regulations and Restrictions Causing Patients to Turn to Shady Pharmacies for Drugs?

It is no surprise that the DEA, along with other law enforcement agencies, has stepped up its efforts to cut down on overprescribing. To see examples of what I am talking about read my past blogs: Walgreens fights the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) immediate suspension order and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) pulls controlled substance licenses from two Sanford, Florida, CVS pharmacies.

If the largest, legitimate pharmacy chains in the state and nation are not allowed to fill these prescriptions, where will chronic-pain patients turn? Are these actions driving our citizens into the hands of shady pharmacies that have fewer safeguards and less accountability, such as online pharmacies? Are these actions driving our citizens to seek out illegal drug dealers and turn to illegal drugs to cope with their legitimate medical problems? That is just one opinion. Tell us yours below.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Dentists.


The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists 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.

Comments?

As a dentist, have you been contacted by these phony DEA agents? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Pavuk, Amy. “DEA Warns of Prescription-Drug Scam.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 29,2012). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-dea-warns-scam-internet-20121128,0,5800536.story

Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Scam Alert – Extortion Scheme.” DEA. (November 28, 2012). From: http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/mia/2012/mia112812a.shtml

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. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Debary Dentist Served with Emergency Suspension Order for Allegedly Inhaling Laughing Gas

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A Debary, Florida, dentist has been served with an emergency suspension order (ESO) by the Florida Department of Health (DOH) for allegedly inhaling nitrous oxide or laughing gas in front of patients. The administrative complaint filed against the dentist on November 2, 2012, by the Florida DOH stated a department-approved evaluator deemed the dentist unfit to practice dentistry and was recommended to undergo residential treatment.

Click here to read the full administrative complaint against the dentist.

We want to point out that these are just allegations made against the dentist at this point in time and have not been proven by the state.

Dentist Allegedly Did Not Finish Rehabilitation.

In June 2012, the Florida DOH ordered the dentist to be treated for alcohol and inhalant dependence. However, while in rehabilitation, she allegedly failed drug tests for alcohol, opiates and hydrocodone. She was then later reportedly caught inhaling laughing gas again.

The dentist allegedly refused another treatment plan by writing on it that she was going to drink champagne on holidays and special occasions.

The Office May Still Be Open.

On November 27, 2012, WFTV in Orlando reported a woman that looked to be the suspended dentist drove up to the Debary office and posted a handwritten sign on the front door that read, “Office is open.”

To see the story from WFTV, click here.

The Florida DOH states that when a licensee is served with an ESO that person may not practice in Florida while his or her license is suspended. Click here to see the status of the dentist’s license from the DOH.

The Dentist’s Options – Formal Hearing or Hearing Before the Board of Dentistry.

The dentist may elect to have a formal hearing contesting the facts with the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). She also may waive this right and not dispute the facts and have an informal hearing before the Board of Dentistry. The Board will then make a final decision concerning the dentist’s license and her future working in dentistry. Be sure to check this blog for updates.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health Investigations of Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI 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 http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of this dentist’s story? Does she deserve another chance? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Walsh, Michael. “Dentist Gassing Up on Nitrous Oxide No Laughing Matter.” New York Daily News. (November 27, 2012). From: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/dentist-gassing-nitrous-oxide-laughing-matter-article-1.1209081?print

Barber, Tim. “Dentist Accused of Using Laughing Gas on Self While Working on Patients.” WFTV. (November 27, 2012). From: http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/dentist-accused-using-laughing-gas-while-operating/nTGJd/

Department of Health v. Sharon Ann Day-Osteen, D.D.S. Case Number 2012-13461. Administrative Complaint to the Board of Dentistry. (November 2, 2012). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/doh%20v%20Day-Osteen.pdf

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.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.