Two Orlando-Area Pharmacists Arrested on Charges of Allegedly Trafficking Drugs

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Two Orlando-area pharmacists were arrested on June 4, 2013, allegedly in connection to trafficking oxycodone, according to a number of local media sources. An Orlando Sentinel article states that the pharmacists are also co-owners of an Orlando pharmacy that was raided by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI).

This is the fourth pharmacy in the Orlando area in which a pharmacist has been arrested as a result of an MBI investigation into alleged forgery and drug trafficking operations, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

I want to point out that these are just allegations made against the pharmacists at this point in time and nothing has been proven by the state.

Pharmacists Allegedly Filling Fake Prescriptions for Drug Traffickers.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, MBI agents said the pharmacists had been under investigation since 2011. They are accused of accepting fraudulent forged prescriptions from drug-trafficking ringleaders. The drug traffickers would allegedly print off hundreds of fake prescriptions for pain medications, which were then taken to be filled at pharmacies around Central Florida.

To read the entire Orlando Sentinel article, click here.

Prescriptions Allegedly Full of Red Flags.

According to a WESH-TV report, the arrests were based on evidence of illegally selling pain medications to a local drug trafficking organization under circumstances in which there could be no reasonable good faith belief of a medical necessity. After reviewing the case, a Florida Department of Health (DOH) expert pharmacist said there were nine red flags that should have indicated that the prescriptions filled by the two arrested pharmacists were forged.

Click here to watch a report on the arrests from WESH-TV.

The Result of Crackdowns on Florida Pill Mills.

According to the director of Orange County’s Office for a Drug Free Community, the number of pill mills in Orange County, Florida, has dropped from 60 in 2010, to 23 clinics in June 2013. The number of oxycodone-related deaths are down in Florida as well. Click here to read a blog on that. However, with prescription pills harder to come by and more expensive, addicts are finding their replacement fix in heroin. To read a blog on the fight against heroin in Florida, click here.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s 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 these pharmacy raids around Central Florida? As a pharmacist, what safeguards do you have in place so you do not fall under investigation? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Pavuk, Amy. “Agents Raid South Orange Pharmacy, Arrest Pair.” Orlando Sentinel. (June 4, 2013). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-jr-pharmacy-raid-arrests-20130604,0,2706542.story

McDaniel, Dave. “Pharmacists Arrested on Trafficking Charges.” WESH TV. (June 4, 2013). From: http://www.wesh.com/news/central-florida/orange-county/pharmacists-arrested-on-trafficking-charges/-/12978032/20414548/-/13bxurx/-/index.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.

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Feds File Two Lawsuits Against Novartis for Allegedly Giving Kickback to Pharmacists and Physicians

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

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NPC) is currently fielding two different lawsuits, filed just days apart from each other, by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The first lawsuit was filed on April 23, 2013, alleging the company gave illegal kickbacks to pharmacists. A second lawsuit was filed on April 26, 2013, alleging illegal kickbacks were paid by NPC to health care providers. According to the DOJ, the government’s complaint seeks damages and civil penalties under the False Claims Act, and under the common law for paying kickbacks to doctors to induce them to prescribe NPC products that were reimbursed by federal health care programs.

Click here to read the entire press release from the DOJ.

Doctors and Pharmacists Allegedly Paid to Prescribe.

Both lawsuits allege NPC violated the Anti-Kickback Statute. In the April 23, 2013, complaint against NPC the lawsuit alleges the company gave kickbacks, in the form of rebates and discounts to pharmacies in exchange for the pharmacies’ cooperation in switching patients from competitors’ drugs to NPC products.

The April 26, 2013, lawsuit accuses NPC of paying doctors to speak about certain drugs at events that were allegedly social occasions. Many of the programs were allegedly held in circumstances in which it would be impossible to have a presentation. According to the DOJ, this included fishing trips off the Florida coast and meetings in Hooters restaurants. NPC is also accused of treating health care professionals to expensive dinners. The payments and dinners were apparently kickbacks to the doctors for writing prescriptions for NPC drugs.

Doctors in the Sunshine State Allegedly Involved.

The lawsuit alleges at least six Florida doctors of participating in the bogus conferences and taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The doctors are not named or charged in the civil lawsuit.

To read the allegations listed in the lawsuit against Florida doctors, click here for the Tampa Bay Times article.

Novartis Claims Discounts and Physician Speaker Programs Were Legitimate.

In a press release, NPC disputes all of the government’s allegations. The pharmaceutical company states that discounts and rebates by pharmaceutical companies are a customary and legal procedure, as recognized by the government. It also addresses the physician speaker programs by saying the programs are also acceptable practices designed to inform physicians about the uses of different types of medicines. Click here to read the entire press release from NPC.

Kickbacks and The Law.

For years drug companies have paid doctors to speak about new drugs at educational conferences with other health care professionals. The practice is legal, but considered questionable.

Under the Anti-Kickback Statute, it’s a felony for health care professionals to accept bribes in exchange for recommending a drug or service covered by Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE or the Department of Veterans Affairs health care program.

Whistleblower or Qui Tam Lawsuits Can Results in a Big Pay Day.

The original complaint against NPC was allegedly filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by a former sales representative.

Individuals working in the health care industry, whether for hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, medical groups, home health agencies or others, often become aware of questionable activities.  Often they are even asked to participate in it. In many cases the activity may amount to fraud on the government.

In a two-part blog series on whistleblower/qui tam lawsuits I explain types of false claims, the reward programs for coming forward with a false claim, who can file a whistleblower/qui tam lawsuit, and more. Click here to read the first part of this blog, and click here for the second part.

The Health Law Firm Lawyers are Experienced with Qui Tam or Whistleblower Cases.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm represent plaintiffs, patients, health care professionals and health facilities in qui tam or whistleblower cases. 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.

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

Sound Off.

Have you head about these two lawsuits? What are your thoughts? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Masow, Julie. “Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation Disputes Allegations in Two US Government Lawsuits and Looks Forward to a Fair Discussion of the Facts.” Novartis Pharmaceuticals. (April 26, 2013). From: http://www.pharma.us.novartis.com/newsroom/pressreleases/137176.shtml

Davis, Brittany Alana. “Lawsuit: Pharmaceutical Company Gave Kickbacks to Florida Doctors.” Tampa Bay Times. (May 3, 2013). From: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/lawsuit-pharmaceutical-company-gave-kickbacks-to-florida-doctors/2119133

Department of Justice. “United States Files Complaint Against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. for Allegedly Paying Kickbacks to Doctors in Exchange for Prescribing Its Drugs.” Department of Justice. (April 26, 2013). From: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/April/13-civ-481.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.

United Parcel Service (UPS) Agrees to Pay Settlement for Online Pharmacy Shipping

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

United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) will pay $40 million to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to settle a probe related to its shipments on behalf of illicit online pharmacies. This announcement came on March 29, 2013.

Click here to read the press release from the DOJ.

UPS and FedEx Corp., have been the targets of a federal investigation to crackdown on illegal sales of prescription drugs.

UPS Had Previous Warning of Investigation.

From 2003 to 2010, the government warned UPS that internet pharmacies were using its services to distribute controlled substances and prescription drugs, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Federal law prohibits the purchase of controlled substances without a valid prescription from a physician. Even after being made aware, the government alleges UPS did not implement procedures to close these pharmacies’ accounts.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, because of the settlement agreement, the government agreed not to prosecute UPS. The company has also agreed to enhance its compliance policies with respect to shipments made from internet pharmacies. The company could have faced charges ranging from money laundering to distribution of controlled substances. Click here to read the entire article from the Orlando Sentinel.

FedEx Calls the Investigation a Threat to Privacy.

FedEx, has acknowledged it is under investigation, but called the probe a threat to customers’ privacy, and “absurd and deeply disturbing,” according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. FedEx has allegedly asked the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give the company a list of pharmacies it believes to be illegally operating so FedEx can shut down shipping services to those pharmacies. So far, FedEx is not facing any charges. To read the article from the Wall Street Journal, click here.

DEA Went After Doctors, Pharmacists and Pharmacies First.

Law enforcement including the DEA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Health (DOH) all seem to be having a hard time keeping up with prescription drug abuse, especially in Florida. These agencies have increased their efforts on doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists to crackdown on violators.

Click here to read a blog on an Orlando physician accused of prescribing painkillers to undercover agents. Click here to read a blog DEA’s investigation of six Walgreens pharmacies in Florida. Click here to read a blog on a Florida pharmacy owner who allegedly committed a $23 million health care fraud scheme. Check our website for similar blogs.

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.

Comments?

What do you think of the government’s investigation into UPS and FedEx? Do you think it could possibly be an invasion of privacy? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Barrett, Devlin. “UPS to Settle Web Pharmacy Case.” Wall Street Journal. (March 29, 2013). From: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323501004578390623687298836.html

Pavuk, Amy. “UPS Agrees to $40M Settlement in Online Pharmacy Shipping Probe.” Orlando Sentinel. (March 29, 2013). From: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-03-29/news/os-ups-dea-prescription-drugs-20130329_1_online-pharmacies-prescription-drugs-ups

Department of Justice. “UPS Agrees to Forfeit $40 Million in Payments from Illicit Online Pharmacies for Shipping Services.” Department of Justice. (March 29, 2013). From: http://www.justice.gov/usao/can/news/2013/2013_03_29_UPS.forfeit.press.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.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Investigates Six Walgreens Pharmacies in Florida

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 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) served an Order to Show Cause (OSC) on a Fort Myers Walgreens pharmacy on February 21, 2013. According to the DEA, the OSC was served as a notice to provide Walgreens with an opportunity to show cause as to why their DEA registration should not be revoked. The Fort Myers pharmacy is one of six Walgreens pharmacies to be targeted for prescribing practices by the DEA.

Click here to read the press release from the DEA.

According to the DEA, these investigations are part of an effort to curb Florida’s prescription drug epidemic.

Six Walgreens Pharmacies and One Distribution Center Targeted by DEA.

In April 2012, the DEA served and Administrative Inspection Warrant (AIW) on the Fort Myers Walgreens pharmacy, as well as five other Walgreens pharmacies in Florida and its distribution center in Jupiter. According to the DEA, the AIWs were served to determine if the pharmacies were dispensing prescriptions for legitimate medical purposes.

Based on the DEA’s findings, the Walgreens distribution center was served with an immediate suspension order (ISO). Click here to read our previous blog on the ISO served on the distribution center.

Between November 2012 and February 2013, the DEA has served OSCs on six Florida Walgreens pharmacies.

According to an article in Naples News, no action has been taken against the stores’ licenses, so they are still able to fill prescriptions pain medications and controlled substances. An administrative hearing will be held in April 2013. The hearing is an opportunity for Walgreens to present their cases. To read the entire Naples News article, click here.

Two CVS Stores in Sanford, Florida Lost Controlled Substance Licenses.

In September 2012, the DEA revoked the controlled substance licenses from two CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Florida. The two stores are accused of dispensing an inappropriate number of prescriptions for oxycodone and had a suspicious number of sales of other controlled substances. There is a blog on this story on our website, click here to read it.

The Ultimate Results of Such Crackdowns.
I am constantly being contacted by patients who are in dire straits, suffering because they cannot locate a pharmacy to fill their legitimate pain medicine prescriptions. These include injured military veterans, patients who are 100% disabled and on disability or social security, patients injured in automobile accidents and job-related accidents (whose medications are paid for by insurance, if they can find a pharmacy to fill it) and others with real chronic pain issues.

If the largest legitimate chains of pharmacies in the state and nation are not allowed to fill these prescriptions, where will these suffering patients turn? Are these actions driving our citizens into the hands of shady independent pharmacies that have fewer safeguards and less accountability? Are these actions driving our citizens to seek out illegal drug dealers and turn to illegal drugs to cope with their legitimate medical problems? I hope not.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s 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 these investigations on big pharmacies? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Drug Enforcement Administration. “DEA Serves an Order to Show Cause on Walgreen’s Pharmacy in Fort Myers.” Drug Enforcement Administration. (February 22, 2013). From: http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/mia/2013/mia022213a.shtml

Freeman, Liz. “DEA Targets Fort Myers Walgreens, 5 Other State Stores.” Naples News. (March 7, 2013). From: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2013/mar/07/dea-targets-fort-myers-walgreens-5-other-state/?print=1

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. He does not own stock in Walgreens or any other pharmacy.

 

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’s Medicaid Program Receives Settlement Payment from Pharmaceutical Company

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 Florida Attorney General’s (AG) Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), 46 other states and the federal government reached a $48 million agreement with pharmaceutical company Healthpoint Ltd., on February 25, 2013. According to the Florida AG, the settlement is in response to allegations of misrepresenting the regulatory status of an ointment used to treat skin conditions and submitting false Medicaid claims. Florida’s Medicaid program will receive almost $900,000 of the settlement.

Click here to see the press release from the AG’s office.

Pharmaceutical Company Allegedly Submitted False Claims to Medicaid.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Healthpoint launched the ointment for the treatment of nursing home patients with bed sores. The settlement resolves allegations that Healthpoint marketed the ointment, Xenaderm, without the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by modeling it on a pre-1962 drug that the FDA never reviewed. The DOJ states that the main ingredient in Xenaderm was determined by the FDA to be less-than-effective for its intended use. The government contends those determinations render the ointment ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements. Healthpoint is accused of knowingly submitting false claims to Medicaid programs.

To read the press release on the settlement from the DOJ, click here.

The settlement is th result of litigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, the DOJ and fifteen (15) states, including Florida.

Responding to a Medicaid Audit.

Should you find yourself, your facility or your health practice the subject of a Medicaid audit by your state Medicaid agency or audit contractor, there are a few things you should know.

The most important thing is that just because you are being audited, it does not mean that you or your business has done anything wrong. State and federal governments conduct audits for many different reasons. Typical ones include: special audits of high-fraud geographic areas, auditing of particular billing codes, randomly selected provider auditing, and complaints of possible fraud.

Click here to see a complete list of steps you should take in order to compile and provide a set of records that will best serve to help you avoid any liability at the conclusion of the audit process.


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 Healthcare 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. We also represent health professionals and others who know of Medicare and Medicaid fraud to file whistleblower and qui tam cases.

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 this settlement agreement? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Meale, Jenn. “Attorney General Bondi’s Office Reaches Settlement with Pharmaceutical Company.” Florida Office of the Attorney General. (February 25, 2013). From: http://www.myfloridalegal.com/newsrel.nsf/newsreleases/D69C285712F6FF9185257B1D004D275D

Department of Justice. “Healthpoint Ltd. to Pay up to $48 Million for False Medicaid and Medicare Claims for Unapproved Prescription Drug.” Department of Justice. (December 6, 2013). From: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/December/12-civ-1459.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.

Negligence Will Determine the Success or Failure of the Meningitis Lawsuits Against Doctors and Clinics

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The victims and survivors of the meningitis outbreak are now filing lawsuits against the physicians and clinics that administered the tainted steroids. According to an article in The Tennessean, on January 29, 2013, a husband who lost his wife to fungal meningitis filed the first lawsuit against a Nashville outpatient clinic. It’s believed hundreds of people were injected at the same clinic with the tainted steroids. The man is now seeking $12.5 million in damages.

Click here to read the entire article from The Tennessean.

This lawsuit is just one in what is expected to be a series of lawsuits, in not just Tennessee, but across the country.

Compounding Pharmacy Allegedly Behind the Meningitis Outbreak is Out of Business.

The meningitis outbreak was at a peak in the fall of 2012. Contaminated steroid injections were allegedly made at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts. NECC is accused of shipping thousands of vials of tainted drugs across the country. There are allegedly 45 deaths nationwide from the steroids. The company shut down in October 2012, and filed for bankruptcy in December, according to an article in American Medical News.

Tennessee Complaint Alleges Outpatient Clinic Put Money Before Patients.

The man suing the Nashville outpatient clinic believes, among other things, that officials at the clinic put the company’s bottom line before patient care. The lawsuit specifically alleges:

1. The outpatient clinic ignored important information when it chose NECC to purchase thousands of vials of steroids,
2. That clinic officials failed to properly notify the victim that she had been injected with a potentially contaminated steroid,
3. That clinic officials failed to recommend the victim should receive treatment,
4. The clinic chose to purchase drugs from NECC because it was a cheaper than the safer alternatives.

Click here to read the entire complaint.

The Responsibility of Doctors and Clinics.

Negligence is the most common claim used against doctors in cases of defective medication. The assumption is that the physician breached the standard of care because he or she knew or should have known that NECC was not meeting applicable standards in compounding the medications. Another legal theory is that the physician should have known that certain medications should not have been compounded, but rather obtained directly from a manufacturer. I believe the liability of physicians and clinics might be established to the extent that the physicians were aware that the steroids distributed by NECC violated regulations on compounding prescription medications.

It’s imperative physicians and clinics are sure of the credentials of all vendors and suppliers.

I was recently quoted in an American Medical News article about physicians and clinics that are entangled in tainted drugs lawsuits. To read the entire article, click here.

Florida Compounding Pharmacy No Stranger to Fungal Outbreaks.

Florida has seen its share of fungal outbreaks. I previously blogged about the problems encountered by Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida. It was accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. Click here for the first blog and here for the second blog.

Pharmacists Need to Obtain Good Professional Liability Insurance.

Many pharmacists, especially those who work for state agencies, large hospitals, pharmacy chains or other large institutions, scrimp on their purchase of professional liability insurance. Many mistakenly believe their employer will cover any legal defense expenses. This is not true and is often found out too late.

A pharmacist should always carry his/her own professional negligence insurance. It is inexpensive and can cover many types of legal actions other than just civil negligence cases. Always, always, always be sure your insurance includes at least $25,000 in professional license defense coverage. Get this in writing!

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits. The firm’s 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 about the lawsuits against these doctors and clinics? Who do you think should be help responsible: the compounding pharmacy that shipped the contaminated steroids, or the doctors and clinics that administered the steroid shots? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Roche Jr., Walter. “Meningitis Outbreak: Victim’s Husband Sues Saint Thomas Clinic.” The Tennessean. (January 31, 2013). From: http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013301300211&nclick_check=1

Wayne A. Reed v. Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center. Case Number 13C-417. Complaint. (January 29, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/Reed%20v.%20St.%20Thomas%20Outpatient.pdf

Gallegos, Alicia. “Physicians Entangled in Tainted Drugs Lawsuits.” American Medical News. (February 11, 2013). From: http://www.thehealthlawfirm.com/uploads/AMN_PhysicianLawsuits.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. 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.

Finding a Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) Insurance Defense Lawyer

Patricia's Photos 013By 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.

Benefits of HPSO Insurance.

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.

Free Legal Advice: Get Insurance Immediately.

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.

Find an Experience Health Law Attorney in the Event of an Investigation.

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.

Do Not Skimp on Insurance Coverage.

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 pharmacists, massage therapists, mental health counselors, registered nurses, assisted living facilities, 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.

We routinely represent physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, and others in defending against malpractice claims, civil lawsuits, administrative complaints, peer review actions, DOH investigations, Medicare audits, Medicaid audits, and 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?

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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.

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