By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
There have been multiple times when we have been told by the health professionals we represent, especially advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs), pharmacists, licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs), massage therapists and physical therapists that after they received a complaint regarding their license from the Florida Department of Health (DOH) they had a hard time trying to find an experienced attorney in Florida who would accept their professional liability insurance. In this case, I am talking specifically about Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) Insurance.
HPSO Insurance Helps With Expensive Legal Fees.
The healthcare professionals who are covered by HPSO Insurance have wonderful insurance coverage. HPSO Insurance provides professional liability coverage that protects in the event of a lawsuit or negligence claim. However, many times 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.
Get Insurance Now.
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.
Connect 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.
Be Cautious of Cheap Insurance Policies.
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 Nurses.
The Health Law Firm’s attorneys routinely represent nurses in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, in appearances before the Board of Nursing in licensing matters and in many other legal matters. We represent nurses across the U.S., and throughout Florida.
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: About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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