Our attorneys often receive calls from dentists and other health professionals regarding the possibility of representing them on short notice at a Board of Dentistry hearing, or at a deposition related to a health care matter.
We Take Last Minute Cases.
Some law firms may refuse to represent a client at a hearing unless given advance notice. In a perfect world, we would prefer to have a sufficient amount of time to prepare for a case in order to provide our clients with the best representation. However, we know the alternative is that the client either gets legal representation with little advance notice or has to go without having legal representation and suffer the consequences.
We may have to refuse a case as well. For instance, if we believe the case is too complex for us to represent you effectively or that any legal representation would be completely futile. This situation does not happen often.
Trust an Experienced Health Law Attorney in Administrative Proceedings.
We’ve heard of some dentists trying to represent themselves. Laypersons, meaning nonlawyer, unaware of such complex matters as the Administrative Procedure Act, the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rules of Evidence, the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) Rules which the Board of Dentistry and the Department of Health (DOH) have enacted may quickly be overwhelmed. Often the individual may only figure this out days or weeks before the final hearing.
The inexperienced individual, or even the inexperienced attorney, in these matters can fall into a number of procedural traps that damage an effective defense. This can be advising the individual to talk to the DOH investigator, filing an unnecessary answer to an Administrative Complaint, forgetting or not knowing that the client’s right to be free of self-incrimination applies in this type of case and many, many others.
Procedural Mistakes Can Hurt Your Defense.
Simply having an experienced attorney representing you at a hearing or Board of Dentistry meeting will help you to avoid mistakes that damage your case and assist in preserving your rights for an appeal. In some cases, it may even be possible to obtain a change in forum to obtain a better result. For example, many laypersons do not know that if you elect an informal hearing before the Board of Dentistry, you have waived your right to prove you are innocent by contesting the facts alleged against you.
What few people know is that you can ask at the informal hearing before the Board of Dentistry to contest the facts, to prove you are not guilty of the charges, and to have the hearing converted to a formal hearing. A formal hearing will be in front of a neutral Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and you have a great many more procedural rights than you have at an informal hearing. However, we still recommend that you have an experienced health lawyer represent you at a formal hearing.
Professional Liability Insurance Might Even Pay for Your Legal Fees.
If you are a dentist who has a professional liability insurance policy, especially one with the larger national companies, these often provide legal coverage for depositions. This is primarily because the outcome of the deposition may include having you named as a defendant in a professional liability or negligence law suit or having disciplinary charges filed against you.
One of the first things you should do if you receive a subpoena or a notice of a deposition is to contact your professional liability insurance carrier and see if it will pay for an attorney to represent you. For example, Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO), CPH & Associates, Dentists Advantage and many other malpractice insurance companies provide excellent deposition coverage.
The second thing you should do is to call an experienced attorney and schedule a consultation. Even if you cannot afford to retain the services of the attorney for the actual deposition, a consultation may assist you in properly preparing.
Consult With An Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Dentists.
We routinely provide deposition coverage to dentists, dental hygienists and other health professionals being deposed in criminal cases, negligence cases, civil cases or disciplinary cases involving other health professionals.
The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing dentists and dental hygienists and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of Dentistry hearings. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Have you ever had an informal or formal hearing before the Board of Dentistry? What was the experience like? 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.