Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5 Million Verdict in Sex Discrimination Lawsuit as Jury Sides with Former Employee

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

On November 2, 2017, a former elder care facility executive was awarded a $1.5 million verdict by a federal jury in Washington state. Irene Riggs claims she was fired for complaining about the “sexually charged” environment created by a supervisor’s inappropriate conduct with a nurse. After a three-day trial, the jury awarded her over $232,000 in lost wages up to the date of trial, nearly $802,000 in future lost wages and $500,000 for loss of enjoyment of life after she was fired by Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America Inc. (Life Care).

Alleged Sex Discrimination.

In her suit, the plaintiff alleged that she was subjected to a “sexually charged atmosphere” by a regional vice president, who was her supervisor beginning in 2013, and a registered nurse with whom he was purportedly in a relationship. Riggs alleged the two fondled each other in an office and regularly engaged in intimate conversation, among other inappropriate things, according to court documents. Additionally, she complained on behalf of herself and colleagues about the conduct directly to the regional vice president, who allegedly became angry and later lodged a complaint with human resources.

In a pretrial brief, the plaintiff said that Life Care’s primary reason for firing her (mental abuse of a resident by unplugging his television) was not true and used as a cover for the real reason. In response, Life Care said that her firing couldn’t constitute discrimination. The company argued that she didn’t report a quid pro quo relationship or a hostile work environment, which are the two types of sex discrimination recognized by the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

She was employed at Life Care’s Sandpoint facility from September 2006 until she was fired on February 1, 2016.

The Jury’s Decision.

The jury determined that Riggs had provided sufficient evidence to show that she opposed what she believed was sex discrimination. Moreover, she was able to show that her report of alleged misconduct by a supervisor was a substantial motivating factor in her firing, and that Life Care didn’t offer a valid justification for her dismissal, according to the verdict.

To read the jury’s verdict in this case, click here.

To learn about a similar case involving sexual harassment and discrimination, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Attorneys Experienced in Health Law and Employment Law.

The Health Law Firm represents both employers and employees in the health care industry in defending allegations of employment discrimination and other complaints from employees and patients. We represent employers in unemployment compensation hearings, in defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, and in defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, as well as other types of contract or employment litigation. We also can investigate such allegations and attempt to negotiate settlements where warranted. Our attorneys represent individuals and institutions in litigation, civil or administrative, state or federal.

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

Sources:

Gurrieri, Vin. “Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5M Verdict In Sex Bias Suit.” Law360. (November 2, 2017). Web.

“Nursing Home Chain Hit With $1.5M Verdict In Sex Bias Lawsuit.” Lexis Nexis. (November 2, 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 workplace discrimination, legal representation for employee discrimination, legal representation for nursing homes, legal representation for elder care facilities, legal representation for home health facilities, nursing home representation, home health care facility representation, nursing law defense attorney, elder care facility representation, legal representation for nurses, legal representation for health care facilities, health care facility defense attorney, legal representation for sexual harassment and discrimination, employment law, legal representation for employment matters, employment law defense attorney, unemployment compensation hearings, defending against EEOC (discrimination) complaints, defending litigation involving wage and hour disputes, legal representation for contract law, legal representation for contract litigation, legal representation for employment litigation, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney 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.

 

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Big News For Nursing Homes: Federal Government’s Ban On Nursing Home Arbitration Blocked

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

On November 7, 2016, a Mississippi federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the federal government’s ban on mandatory arbitration in cases involving nursing homes. The order from U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills granted a preliminary injunction sought by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and prevents the ban from taking effect on Nov. 28.

The proposed rule, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), bans so-called pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts, which require patients and families to settle any dispute over care in arbitration, rather than through the court system.

To learn more about the rule, click here.

Click here to read the final rule issued by CMS.

Not Everyone Agrees With The Rule.

In Judge Mills’s order, he wrote that the CMS “does not have the authority to ban nursing home arbitration on general policy grounds,” even if the goal of protecting elderly Americans is a worthy one.

Additionally, Judge Mills added that CMS could conceivably justify the ban by citing its authority to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents. But, that would require “an exceedingly broad understanding of agency authority.”

Click here to read Judge Mill’s order in full.

AHCA, a top trade group for nursing homes, shared their disapproval of the ban and stated that they are happy with the outcome. “We believe federal law plainly prohibits CMS from issuing this arbitration regulation, and this injunction will halt implementation of the final rule until the court can consider the merits of the case,” the association said.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Nursing Home Cases.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent nursing homes and nursing home employees in a number of different matters including incorporation, preparing contracts, defending the facility against malpractice claims, licensing and regulatory matters, administrative hearings, and routine legal advice.

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

Overley, Jeff. “BREAKING: Feds’ Ban On Nursing Home Arbitration Blocked.” Law360. (November 7, 2016). Web.

Corkery, Michael. “U.S. Just Made It A lot More Easier To Sue Nursing Homes.” The New York Times. (September 29, 2016). 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: Nursing home arbitration cases, U.S. ban on mandatory arbitration for nursing homes, legal representation for American Health Care Association (AHCA) investigations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), legal representation for nursing homes, CMS investigation defense lawyer, Medicare and Medicaid defense attorney, reviews for The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews

“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 © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

CMS Drops Florida Nursing Home From Medicare Program After 14 Patients Died During Storm

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

On October 12, 2017, federal health officials announced they are dropping a Florida nursing home from the Medicare program after 14 patients died allegedly as a result of the Hurricane Irma emergency. On Sept. 13, 2017, eight residents died and the others were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after the facility lost air conditioning. Six more have since died, which attorneys say was a result of the conditions and evacuations immediately after the storm.

CMS Sanctions.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a statement that the facility will be terminated “due to their [sic] failure to meet Medicare’s basic health and safety requirements.” CMS also imposed a penalty of $20,965 a day for the three days that Hollywood Hills lost power to its air conditioning unit.

Under the CMS sanctions, Medicare will continue to pay the Hollywood Hills center through November 12, 2017, for any care that was provided to residents before the evacuation and closure.

This incident is what allegedly prompted Florida Governor Rick Scott to impose emergency rules requiring all nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in Florida (over 3,000 facilities) to have emergency power generators and fuel installed within 60 days to keep their residents air conditioned for up to 96 hours during a power failure. To read more on the emergency rule, click here.

Despite all this, the rehabilitation center has not given up hope on reopening. A spokeswoman for Hollywood Hills said they’ll appeal the decision and look forward to showing evidence that their actions were consistent with all state and federal rules.

To learn more about CMS’s authority to suspend or terminate Medicare to providers, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late; Consult with a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Medicare and Medicaid Issues Now.

If you receive any notice related to any audit, overpayment or action to terminate you or your company, take immediate action. The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent healthcare providers in Medicare audits, ZPIC audits and RAC audits throughout Florida and across the U.S. They also represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other healthcare providers and institutions in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits, recovery actions and termination from the Medicare or Medicaid Program.

We also represent physicians, medical groups, pharmacies. health facilities and therapists in notices of termination of Medicare billing privileges, corrective action plans (CAPs), OIG exclusion hearings, Medicaid hearings and applications for removal from the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE).

For more information please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.

Sources:

Chang, Daniel. “Feds to cut Medicare for Hollywood Hills nursing home after residents died.” Miami Herald. (October 12, 2017). Web.

“Florida nursing home where 14 died cut from Medicare program.” Associated Press. (October 12, 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 Medicare investigations, legal representation for Medicare exclusion, Medicare attorney, Medicare defense attorney, OIG exclusion, legal representation for nursing home compliance, legal representation for nursing home regulations, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), legal representation for CMS investigations, legal representation for Medicare providers, nursing facility license defense, legal attorney for health facilities, CMS termination of Medicare provider status, legal representation for Medicare reinstatement, legal representation for health care compliance, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney 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.

 

U.S. Court in Florida Dismisses Whistleblower’s Complaint Against Nuclear Pharmacy

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

On September 28, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed a relator’s (whistle blower’s) False Claims Act (FCA) complaint against a nuclear pharmacy in Tampa. The court found that the relator failed to plead fraud with the required amount of specificity that the law requires.  The case awas filed against GE Healthcare, Inc.’s nuclear pharmacy.

The Allegations.

GE Healthcare operates 31 nuclear pharmacies in the United States, where it produces radiopharmaceuticals through a process of compounding drugs.  The relator was a board-certified nuclear pharmacist who formerly worked at GE Healthcare, Inc.’s nuclear pharmacy in Tampa, Florida. The relator’s allegations included the manner in which GE compounded and labeled radiopharmaceuticals. More specifically, the whistle blower claimed that GE sold diluted and expired drugs. Additionally, the whistle blower alleged that GE falsely inflated the reimbursement rate for certain drugs by providing false sales data to Medicare.

GE argued that the realtor’s claims should be dismissed pursuant to the FCA’s public disclosure bar because the allegations overlapped with an action filed by a different relator, James Wagel, in 2006. To read about this FCA case, click here.

The Court’s Decision. 

The court found that Sunil Patel’s allegations were not “based on” or “substantially the same as” the allegations in the prior public disclosures. However, the court dismissed the realtor’s claims on another ground:  failing to plead the allegedly fraudulent claims with sufficient particularity. According to the court, the allegations that defendant “presented or caused to be presented” a false claim fell “well short of alleging ‘exact billing data.'”  In other words, the relator failed to plead one or more false claims by giving the specifics, such as date, amount, patient, billing code, amount paid by the government, etc.  The court found that the relator identified no “particular facts about the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ of fraudulent submissions to the government.”

The case is United States ex rel. Patel v. GE Healthcare Inc., No. 8:14-cv-120-T-33TGW (M.D. Fla. Sept. 28, 2017).

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar FCA case involving a pharmaceutical company.

Specifics of the False Claims Are Required for Any Qui Tam Whistle Blower’s Case.

This is one of the biggest short comings we see in potential clients who contact us with information about false claims being submitted by their employers or other healthcare providers.  They do not have the specifics of any single false claim.  Yet the law requires this or a whistle blower’s case can get dismissed by the court outright.  You can do an awful lot of work investigating, pleading and litigating a whistle blower’s case only to have the court dismiss it without its ever getting anywhere near a trial.  Even if a scheme or system is inherently fraudulent, you must be able to show one or more claims that were submitted were actually false claims.

We advise health care professionals who consult us with possible False Claims Act/whistle blowers cases, be sure you have the details, and preferably copies of the documents, that show a false bill was submitted to the government.  This can be a CMS Form 1500 or an explanation of benefits that the patient and the insurer or facility receives back.  Sometimes you can get these form the patient if you do not have access to these from the employer.  But without a false claim and, preferably, a number of false claims, you don’t really have a False Claims Act suit.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistle Blower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and health facilities in qui tam or whistleblower cases both in defending such claims and in bringing such claims. We have developed relationships with recognized experts in health care accounting, health care financing, utilization review, medical review, filling, coding, and other services that assist us in such matters. We have represented doctors, nurses and others as relators in bringing qui tam or whistleblower cases, as well.

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

Sources:

Fraud and Compliance. “U.S. Court in Florida Dismisses Whistleblower Action Against Nuclear Pharmacy.” AHLA Weekly. (October 6, 2017). Web.

Mayo, Rebecca. “Evidence of likely submission not enough to prove FCA violation.” Wolters Kluwer Health Law Daily. (October 2, 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: Health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for allegations of health care fraud, False Claims Act (FCA) attorney, FCA defense attorney, False Claims attorney, legal representation for FCA investigations, legal representation for FCA complaints, Whistleblower attorney, Whistleblower defense attorney, legal representation for Whistleblower investigations, legal representation for Whistleblower complaints, qui tam attorney, qui tam defense attorney, legal representation for qui tam cases, legal representation for qui tam investigations, FCA legal representation, relator attorney, relator defense attorney, health law defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney 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.

Miami Woman Gets 4 Years in Prison for Illegal Silicone Injection Scheme

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 September 20, 2017, a Florida federal judge sentenced a Florida woman to more than four years in prison for her part in a conspiracy to inject non-medical silicone into the buttocks of hundreds of spa customers. U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams handed down the sentence to Magaly Del Rosario, who pled guilty for her part in the scheme to purchase “misbranded” silicone from Colombia and inject it into her “patients.” The “patients” were seeking “buttocks augmentation” at the Bella Beauty Spa in Miami between 2008 and 2015, according to court documents.

The Scheme.

Prosecutors said Del Rosario conspired with a local salon owner to smuggle the silicone from Colombia by having it falsely labeled as a type of wax used for hair removal. The salon owner was sentenced to 79 months in prison in late August 2017 for her part in the plot.

Prosecutors also alleged that the duo calmed patients’ worries by implying that they were both licensed to perform the procedure and telling them that they were being injected with a safe, temporary substance. In fact, prosecutors said, the pair knew the material was non-medical silicone, which is not only permanent but is also dangerous.

The Consequences of Such a Dangerous Scheme.

According to prosecutors, the silicone injections, which were made without the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner, can cause embolisms, infections, scar tissue formation, necrosis, skin discoloration and increased immune system activity. They also said that the silicone can travel to other unintended parts of the body causing discomfort and pain for patients.

After clients began complaining of complications and medical issues, they were directed to a man who was also practicing medicine without a license. The man was previously incarcerated for the same offense and allegedly performed minor surgeries in the salon.

Unlicensed Medical Practice Abounds in Florida.

Is it just me,. or does it seem that Florida is rife with those practicing medicine, dentistry and other health professions without a license? I have written blogs on this many times in the past. It is so prevalent that it pops up from time to time in the novels of Florida humor writers such as Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey, as merely another unusual fact of life in Florida. I also previously wrote a blog on another Florida woman who was sentenced to 11 years in prison after her patient died from the illegal silicone injections. Click here to read the blog.

Why Don’t Patients Check Out the Credentials of Their Physicians?

Why don’t patients check out the credentials of their physicians? This just seems like common sense. Yet Florida abounds with phony doctors, phony paramedics, phony dentists and others practicing medicine or some other health profession without being licensed or even knowing anything about the field. Is it driven by the expense of medical procedures? To a certain extent it may very well be. It may also be partially explained by a failure of the “patients” to comprehend the possible adverse consequences of what may be viewed as a “minor” procedure. To a large extent, the unlicensed individuals who do this also prey on foreign born immigrants and foreigners, trusting them because they speak the same language.

The problem seems to go way beyond just the lack of licensure of the person providing the medical services. I constantly see cases of licensed medical doctors holding themselves out as experienced practitioners in medical specialties for which they are not board certified. I have seen cases where board certified obstetricians/gynecologists are practicing pain management, where family practice physicians are performing plastic surgery procedures, where dentists are running medical spas providing cosmetic laser services, where nurses are performing cosmetic medical procedures, etc.

If you were diagnosed with a brain tumor, would you go to a family practice doctor to have it removed because he didn’t charge as much. If you needed a hernia repair, would you go to the “doctor” at the flea market, because she was so inexpensive? Consumers really need to be more worried about the experience and credentials of their physicians and check them out completely. Neighbors who have “doctors” set up clinics in their homes and garages need to rat these people out. Phony plastic surgeons who only advertise in Spanish on Spanish radio stations need to be reported to the authorities. Florida needs to do more about these unlicensed and licensed, but unqualified, health practitioners.

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.

Sources:

Crosby, Christopher. “Miami Woman Gets 4 Years For Spa Silicone Injection Scheme.” Law360. (September 20, 2017). Web.

Scicchitano, Paul. “Illegal Miami Butt Biz Sends Spa Manager To Jail.” Miami Patch. (September 20, 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 health care professionals, legal representation for licensed health care professionals, licensed health care professional defense attorney, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for health care fraud investigations, health care fraud investigation representation, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation representation, review of The Health Law Firm attorneys, 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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Florida Department of Health and Law Enforcement Investigate School Providing Nurse Practitioner Courses

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

A subpoena purportedly issued by the Clerk of Court for Seminole County, Florida, recently requested academic records on advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students, including preceptorship agreements for clinical courses they had taken. A follow-up inquiry revealed that the Florida Department of Health was behind the subpoena, seeking evidence concerning possible fraudulent practices involving the supervision of those clinicals.

Apparently South University, which has its main campus and headquarters located in Savannah, Georgia, but offers courses in Florida, had agreements with one or more physicians in the Orlando area to furnish training for nurse practitioner students within their medical practices. Under the terms of the agreement, the physician was required to provide a nurse practitioner to supervise the student taking the clinicals.

However, what is being investigated is the allegation that no nurse practitioners were actually used to supervise those clinicals and the students. Instead, it is apparently being alleged that the names of various licensed advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were used without their knowledge and put down as the supervisors for those students’ clinicals. Supposedly at least 20 names of nurse practitioners have been fraudulently used in this manner. Apparently the names of the nurse practitioners were also fraudulently signed to attestations that the students had actually completed the hours of clinical training. Usually there were four quarters or rotations of clinicals required of each student, encompassing hundreds of hours of clinical time.

It is estimated that over 100 advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) students went through this program and graduated. Based on their advanced degrees, they were licensed as advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) by the Florida Department of Health.

Will those unsupervised student clinical hours be disallowed?

The question is whether action will be taken by the Florida Department of Health, or another organization, to disallow those clinical nurse practitioner hours gained by students in this manner. If so, many who are currently licensed as nurse practitioners who went through this program may lose their licenses and be required to retake required clinical hours. Both the students and the college were apparently unaware of the fraudulent activity.

This case is reminiscent of the massage therapist cases rising in 2012.

This situation seems somewhat similar to the situation that over 180 Florida licensed massage therapists (LMTs) found themselves during 2012. Click here to read one of our prior blogs on this story.

In the case of the massage therapists, each of them had taken courses and graduated from a school in another state. However, when they moved to Florida they had to have the courses re-certified by a Florida approved college and take the additional required courses for Florida licensure. They went to a well known, reputable private college offering massage therapy courses. They paid their tuition and were provided documentation showing that their out of state credits had been transferred in. They were provided other documents by the college showing that they had completed all course requirements and met the standards for licensure. They received their Florida licenses based on this.

Later it was discovered that the registrar at that college had actually been stealing the tuition money paid by these massage therapists and not enrolling them in the college. She was falsifying college documents, including course completion certificates, diplomas, transcripts and other documents using the college’s official seal on them. To see a class action law suit filed discussing this scheme in greater detail, click here.

When the Florida Department of Health found out about this situation, it reacted in a “knee-jerk” fashion and did an emergency suspension of hundreds of massage therapist’s licenses, many of them with no advance notice to the massage therapists. To see a blog I wrote on this, click here.

Hundreds of massage therapist who could not afford to pay a lawyer to mount a legal defense wound up having their licenses revoked or felt compelled to voluntary relinquish their licenses. They lost their national certification in massage therapy because of this.

However, the massage therapists who challenged the revocation and demanded a formal administrative hearing on it, many of whom we represented, were successful in keeping their licenses, mainly because they were not at fault and did not know what the crooked registrar was doing.

Actions to take if you are a nurse practitioner notified of licensure action or that you are under investigation:

Following are the recommendations we would make to any potential client contacting us who has been notified that he or she may be under investigation by the Florida Department of Health or law enforcement authorities:

1. Do not talk to or make any statement, oral or written, to any investigator without first consulting with an experienced health law attorney.

2. Immediately obtain the services of an experienced health law attorney to represent you in the case.

3. Check with your professional liability insurance carrier for any professional liability insurance you had at the time or currently have to see if they will cover the matter. Your current policy may not cover it unless you had it when the events occurred. However, it might.

4. Do not respond to any subpoena for records for testimony until you have consulted with an experienced health law attorney. Even a current professional liability insurance policy should cover you in responding to a subpoena or if a deposition is sought.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, voluntarily relinquish your license, without retaining any experienced health law attorney familiar with this matter to represent you. Such a relinquishment may be the equivalent of a revocation and reported to national reporting bodies as such.

6. If charges arise and you are offered the right to a hearing, always elect a formal administration hearing at which you dispute the issues. Do not elect an informal hearing. In an informal hearing, you have to agree that the charges against you are true, in effect, admitting you are guilty. Do not make that common mistake.

If you desire to see information on emergency suspension orders and emergency restriction orders, click here.

 

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Department of Health (DOH) Investigations of Nurse Practitioners.

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

KeyWords: Legal representation for nurses, legal representation for nursing students, legal representation for ARNPs, legal representation for ARNP students, Licensure Defense Representation, Investigation Representation, Department of Health Investigations, Board of Nursing Investigations , Administrative Hearings, Emergency Suspension Orders, Emergency Restriction Orders, nurse attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, nursing student defense attorney, ARNP defense attorney, legal representation for licensure issues, legal representation for medical students, legal representation for investigations of health care professionals, DOH investigation defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney 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.

 

 

Florida Woman Who Performed Illegal Silicone Injections Sentenced After “Patient’s” Death

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 May 26, 2017, a Sanford, Florida, woman who performed illegal cosmetic silicone injections was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. According to prosecutors, the illegal procedures done by Deanna Roberts, led to serious health problems and the death of a prominent night club performer.
Illegal Injections.

From reports, Deanna Roberts bought about 178 gallons of non-medical grade liquid silicone between 2004 and 2015. She apparently told officials checking on this that she used the substance to lubricate medical equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Despite what she told officials, prosecutors said she falsely claimed to be a licensed medical practitioner and illegally injected liquid silicone into at least five people during cosmetic procedures.

Come on, you know that if she purchased 178 gallons of silicone, she must have injected hundreds of patients.

Health Risks of Liquid Silicone.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not allow liquid silicone to be injected because of the health problems it can cause. Many of her “clients” were hospitalized with respiratory problems and other ailments when the silicone migrated to different parts of the body like their lungs, which is what it does. A prominent Atlanta performer died after the substance moved into her lungs, heart, brain and other organs, only 36 hours after the injection.

Roberts pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

Why Don’t Patients Check Out the Credentials of Their Physicians?

Why don’t patients check out the credentials of their physicians? This just seems like common sense. Yet Florida abounds with phony doctors, phony paramedics, phony dentists and others practicing medicine or some other health profession without being licensed or even knowing anything about the field. Is it driven by the expense of medical procedures? To a certain extent it may very well be. It may also be partially explained by a failure of the “patients” to comprehend the possible adverse consequences of what may be viewed as a “minor” procedure. To a large extent, the unlicensed individuals who do this also prey on foreign born immigrants and foreigners, trusting them because they speak the same language.

I think the problem goes way beyond just the lack of licensure of the person providing the medical services. I constantly see cases of licensed medical doctors holding themselves out as experienced practitioners in medical specialties for which they are not board certified. I seen cases where board certified obstetricians/gynecologists are practicing pain management, where family practice physicians are performing plastic surgery procedures, where dentists are running medical spas providing cosmetic laser services, where nurses are performing cosmetic medical procedures, etc.

If you were diagnosed with a brain tumor, would you go to a family practice doctor to have it removed because he didn’t charge as much. If you needed a hernia repair, would you go to the “doctor” at the flea market, because she was so inexpensive? Consumers really need to be more worried about the experience and credentials of their physicians and check them out completely. Neighbors who have “doctors” set up clinics in their homes and garages need to rat these people out. Phony plastic surgeons who only advertise in Spanish on Spanish radio stations need to be reported to the authorities. Florida needs to do more about these unlicensed and licensed, but unqualified, health practitioners.

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.

Sources:

Hayes, Crystal. “Sanford woman sentenced after silicone injection scheme led to drag queen’s death.” Orlando Sentinel. (May 26, 2017). Print.

Eldridge, Ellen. “Woman who killed Atlanta drag queen with silicone injection heads to prison.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution. (May 26, 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 health care professionals, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, health care fraud defense attorney, legal representation for health care fraud, legal representation for health care fraud investigations, health care fraud investigation representation, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation representation, review of The Health Law Firm attorneys, 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.

Florida’s Baker Act: What You Need to Know – Part 2

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

Our firm is frequently retained to act to obtain the release of individuals erroneously confined and held involuntarily under the Baker Act. We hope to share some of the lessons we have learned in representing such individuals and obtaining their release.

This is Part 2 of our blog on Florida’s Baker Act. To read Part 1 of this blog, click here.

Selected Examples of Some of Our Prior Cases.

Here are examples of actual cases in which we have been retained to obtain the release of a Baker Act patient. We have changed the facts somewhat to protect the identities of the individuals and the facilities involved.

Case #1: An independent elderly woman who still worked and was completely independent tripped and fell in her apartment, injuring herself. Her roommate took her to the local hospital emergency room to be examined and treated for the physical injury. The emergency room staff had her involuntarily confined in the hospital’s Baker Act unit and would not release her. She was not a danger to herself or to others. She was completely independent and held a good paying job. Her roommate drove her around and to medical appointments. She had never been diagnosed with a mental illness before and had never been Baker Acted before. Because of the Baker Act confinement, she missed several of her regular medical appointments which she had scheduled.

Case #2: The president of a medium-sized manufacturing company in another state came to Florida for a business conference at which his company had a display. On the last night of the conference, he partied late, drank too much and a friend took him to a hospital emergency room. He had a plane ticket to leave the next day. The hospital emergency room staff diagnosed him with depression and had him involuntarily confined under the Baker Act. He missed his flight home, and one of his company officials had to come to Florida to try to get him released.

Case #3: The fairly new wife of a businessman who worked a lot and who already had two small children, delivered twins. About six months later, the nanny quit at during the same week that they were supposed to move to a new home. The wife went to her OB/GYN for her routine follow-up visit. She was tired and run down from the loss of her nanny, getting ready to move, taking care of all of the small children, etc. Questioning by her OB/GYN indicated that she may have been depressed. The OB/GYN had his two nurses from his office walk her over to the hospital emergency room (which was next door) to be Baker Acted. Her husband and kids were then at home without a nanny and without mom. Mom was angry and upset because she was not suicidal, felt that she had been betrayed by her doctor and was not a threat to herself, her children or anyone else. She felt she was a prisoner, confined without any rights.

Case #4: A 14-year-old girl in high school broke up with her best friend around Christmas time. She was somewhat depressed and wrote down her thoughts about “ending it all.” Several months later, at the end of the school semester someone found the anonymous note (it had been inside her textbook) and turned it into the teacher. The teacher and principal are eventually able to identify the handwriting and confront the teenager. She admitted that it was her note but denied any suicidal thoughts. The principal called the sheriff’s department and sheriff’s deputies came and took her away to a Baker Act facility over her parents’ protests. She was then involuntarily confined there.

Case #5: A happily married mother of three young adults (who were in college and lived with their mother and father) had a long history of depression for which she saw her own psychiatrist on a regular basis (for more than ten years) and received prescription medication to control it. Her psychiatrist routinely adjusted her medications as needed. Her psychiatrist had recently adjusted her medication, but then was out of town on vacation for two weeks. She had a reaction to the medication adjustment. She telephoned her psychiatrist’s office and was instructed to go to the nearest hospital emergency room to have her medications adjusted. She did this. Instead of getting her medications adjusted, she was involuntarily confined in the hospital’s behavioral health unit under the Baker Act, Her husband (a professional) and her children, who live with her and depend on her, are distraught and could not convince the hospital or its medical staff to release her.

The cases above are all based on actual cases in which we were retained by the individual or the family. We were able to obtain the individual’s prompt release from the Baker Act facility.

Serious Problems We See Over and Over Again.

– The staff and treating physician constantly pressure the patient to convert their involuntary confinement (which may be expiring shortly, or there may be no grounds to renew it) to a voluntary admission. If this occurs, then they can keep the person as long as they desire. However, they threaten that if the patient attempts to leave, even though the patient is now there voluntarily, then they will have the patient involuntarily confined under the Baker Act.

– The patient is angry and upset at being imprisoned when he or she came to the hospital voluntarily for help. As a result, he or she rants and raves and threatens the doctors and staff with litigation or refuses to talk to them. This may serve to reinforce the doctor and staff’s concerns that the patient is mentally ill or irrational.

– Some of our clients have expressed concerns that because they have excellent health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE coverage (all of which cover hospitalizations), that they are being held involuntarily against their will when they should not be, while indigents who really have serious mental health issues are discharged immediately. They express concerns that they are being held involuntarily solely because the hospital and physician are getting paid to keep them.

– Individuals who have medical problems, but are successfully living independently and obtaining regular medical treatment for their ailments, may not receive the appropriate type of medical care they need when they are being confined in a psychiatric facility. Their prescription medications are at home, and they are not able to take their prescribed medications. Their regular treating physicians are not called or consulted. Their continuity of care is interrupted by the confinement.

– The regular treating physicians of those confined may not visit or see them while they are confined in a different hospital from the one(s) in which the treating physician has approved clinical privileges.

We Work to Get Victims Out Quickly.

Our firm has a process we follow to make sure that a person who should not be held under the Baker Act may be released in a very short time. If the basic criteria for a Baker Act confinement are not present, the person is not required to be held and should be released. If the person has been living independently for decades, has family and a support system available, and has had no prior mental health problems, the odds are he or she should not be involuntarily confined. We act immediately to begin our representation, to make the hospital and its physicians aware that we are representing a victim, and to take measures to obtain release. If required, we are prepared to file an emergency Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the local Circuit Court to have the victim brought before the judge for an emergency release hearing. These cases can be time intensive, require a great deal of immediate work, but can yield fast results in most cases.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Victims of Involuntary Confinement Through the Baker Act Act.

The Health Law Firm represents individuals, families and friends in challenges to and hearings related to the Florida Baker Act and Marchman Act, when the basic criteria for confinement are not met and there is no medical necessity for further confinement.

Our firm has a process we follow to make sure that a person who should not be held under the Baker Act may be released quickly. We act immediately to begin our representation, to make the hospital and its physicians aware that we are representing the victim, and to take measures to obtain release. If required, we are prepared to file an emergency Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the local Circuit Court to have the victim brought before the judge for an emergency release hearing. These cases can be time intensive, require a great deal of immediate work, but can yield fast results in most cases.

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 Baker Act cases, Baker Act defense attorney, legal representation for involuntary Baker Act confinement, legal representation for involuntary confinement in hospital, legal representation for confinement in Baker Act facility, legal representation for mental health confinement, petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Baker Act attorney, Baker Act defense lawyer, Florida Baker Act defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, 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.