East Texas Lab Agrees to Pay $3.75 Million to Settle False Claims Suit

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 December 14, 2016, owners of an East Texas clinical laboratory who overcharged Medicare for falsified driving mileage bills have agreed to pay the U.S. government $3.75 million to settle a whistle blower’s False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit. The suit was brought by a former employee, the U.S. attorney’s office announced.

Submitting False Claims.

Texas-based Elite Lab Services LLC (Elite) and its owners, Gerard and Suzanne Dengler, reportedly settled claims brought under the False Claims Act (FCA) by plaintiff Karen Malcolm. The Denglers admitted that from approximately 2010 to 2014 they submitted inflated employee mileage claims to Medicare and billed the government health agency knowing it does not pay for mileage claims in excess of actual miles driven.

According to court documents, the defendants employed phlebotomists who traveled around East Texas to collect blood samples and transport those samples back to Elite for lab services. For several years, the defendants at Elite knowingly submitted or caused to be submitted inflated mileage calculations beyond the actual distances driven by the employees.

The Whistle Blower.

In 2014, the whistle blower Malcolm, filed the suit alleging that Elite had defrauded Medicare. She claimed that she approached the Denglers in the spring of that year to voice concerns about the billing practices, but the issue was not corrected. She then resigned from the company as a result. The U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that the government intervened in the suit for purposes of the settlement.

In an agreed final judgment, the parties said that the defendants relinquished and waived all right and title to more than $2.5 million in cash held in a collection of several financial accounts and sales of real property that they owned to satisfy the settlement in the instant case.

As a result of the deal, Malcolm will receive a 21 percent share of the recovery, totaling $787,500, authorities said.

Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases brought on by whistleblowers are unfortunately becoming more common. To read about the serious repercussions of cases like this, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact an Experienced Health Law Attorney to Assist in Whistleblower/Qui Tam Cases.

If you have knowledge of false claims being filed against Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE/CHAMPUS or any other type of government program, please contact us, and we will be happy to assist you. Our law firm represents health professionals and health care organizations almost exclusively. Yet, we have been involved in a number of whistle blower/qui tam cases, in which we represent the person who files the claim, as well as in defending them in certain cases.

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

Sources:

Wolf, Alex. “East Texas Lab Pays $3.75M For Falsified Medicare Billing.” Law360. (December 14, 2016). Web.

“Tyler lab, owners to pay $3.75 million for filing false Medicare claims.” Longview Business Journal. (December 14, 2016). Web.

“East Texas lab company, owners to pay $3.75M for false Medicare claims.” KLTV-ABC. (December 14, 2016). Web.

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. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: False Claims Act (FCA) attorney, legal representation for submitting false claims to the government, defense attorney, Medicare false claims defense lawyer, allegations of false billing, Medicare and Medicare fraud investigation defense attorney, consumer reports of false claims, Medicare audit defense lawyer, health care fraud defense attorney, whistle blower attorney, qui tam defense lawyer, legal representation for whistle blower suits, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, The Health Law Firm reviews, qui tam relator’s attorney, qui tam defense attorney, Florida whistle blower case, Virginia Whistle blower case, Colorado whistle blower case, Louisianan Whistle blower case, complex healthcare litigation attorney
“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 © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.



DOJ Releases 2016 False Claims Act Recovery Statistics: Third Highest Annual Recovery Ever

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 December 14, 2016, the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released its annual False Claims Act (FCA) recovery statistics. It revealed that the DOJ obtained more than $4.7 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government in fiscal year 2016. What this indicates to me is that, if all of these cases had been brought by individual relators, those relators could have shared in as much as $1.41 billion as their personal reward for the relator’s part of the recoveries. A whistle blower can receive up to 30 percent of the amount warded to the government, plus all attorney’s fees and costs, for bringing a successful False Claims Act case.

The Third Highest Annual Recovery.

Based on these statistics, 2016 took its place as the third highest annual recovery since the FCA was established in the 1800s. The fiscal year average jumps to nearly $4 billion since fiscal year 2009, and the total recovery during that period to $31.3 billion.

“Congress amended the False Claims Act 30 years ago to give the government a more effective tool against false and fraudulent claims against federal programs,” said Mizer. “An astonishing 60 percent of those recoveries were obtained in the last eight years. The beneficiaries of these efforts include veterans, the elderly, and low-income families who are insured by federal health care programs; families and students who are able to afford homes and go to college thanks to federally insured loans; and all of us who are protected by the government’s investment in national security and defense. In short, Americans across the country are healthier, enjoy a better quality of life, and are safer because of our continuing success in protecting taxpayer funds from misuse.”

Fraud in the Health Care Industry.

The DOJ recovered $19.3 billion in health care fraud claims from January 2009 to the end of fiscal year 2016. Additionally, 57 percent of the health care fraud dollars recovered in the 30 years since the 1986 amendments to FCA claims. Most of the false claims actions are filed under those whistle blower, or qui tam, provisions. Whistle blowers filed 702 qui tam suits in fiscal year 2016, and the DOJ recovered $2.9 billion in these and earlier filed suits in 2016. The government awarded the whistle blowers a total of $519 million during the same time period.

Click here to read the DOJ’s press release in full.

These DOJ fraud recoveries restore valuable assets to federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE, the health care program for service members and their families.

To read more on the importance of preventing health care fraud, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

If you find yourself at the center on an audit or investigation for health care fraud, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact an experienced health law attorney. To find out how The Health Law Firm can help you, click here.

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

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm also represent health care professionals and health facilities in qui tam or whistle blower 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 whistle blower cases, as well.

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

Richardson, Kalie. “DOJ Announces $4.7 billion in False Claims Act Collections – $2.5 billion in Health Care Alone.” AHLA Weekly. (December 15, 2016). Web.

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. “DOJ Releases its 2016 False Claims Act Recovery Statistics.” The National Law Review. (December 15, 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: Florida health law defense attorney, qui tam defense lawyer, legal representation for allegations of health care fraud, legal representation for health care fraud investigations, health care fraud defense attorney, whistle blower attorney, AKS lawyer, Anti-Kickback Statute attorney, False Claims Act defense lawyer, FCA attorney, illegal kickbacks, DOJ settlement attorney, government health care fraud investigation defense attorney, health fraud and abuse allegations, health fraud attorney, FCA legal representation, relator attorney, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation defense attorney, False Claims Act (FCA) defense attorney, legal representation for FCA suit, legal representation for submitting false claims to the government, Medicare and Medicaid fraud defense lawyer, legal representation for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, The Health Law Firm reviews, Reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, whistle blower defense attorney, Florida qui tam whistle blower attorney, Colorado qui tam whistle blower lawyer, Louisiana qui tam whistle blower attorney, Kentucky qui tam whistle blower lawyer, Virginia qui tam whistle blower attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) qui tam whistle blower lawyer, Florida False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties attorney, Colorado False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer, Louisiana False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties attorney, Kentucky False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer, Virginia False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) False Claims Act (FCA) and civil monetary penalties lawyer
“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 © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Forest Labs Agree to Pay $38 Million Settlement to End Whistle Blower’s FCA Suit

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 December 15, 2016, Forest Laboratories agreed to pay $38 million to resolve a whistle blower’s False Claims Act (FCA) suit involving allegations that it paid kickbacks to doctors who prescribed three of the company’s drugs, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

The lawsuit contends that Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Forest), targeted physicians who had a high prescription writing potential and large Medicare and Medicaid patient populations. They also allegedly paid those physicians to attend lavish speaking events where the company had the opportunity to give incentives to health care providers to prescribe their products.

The Settlement.

The new deal settles claims that the New York City-based company and its subsidiary, provided money and meals to certain doctors in connection with programs about the drugs Bystolic, Savella and Namenda. According to the DOJ, the scheme took place between the start of 2008 and the end of 2011. Bystolic is a “beta blocker” that’s often used to treat high blood pressure, Savella is used to treat fibromyalgia and Namenda is used to treat dementia.
“Quality and patient safety must be the driving factors in the medical decision making process,” Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, said in a statement. “Attempting to sway physicians to deviate from those core values with illegal inducements, as alleged in this lawsuit, debilitates their unbiased medical judgment at the expense of patients and taxpayers.”

 

The Speaker Programs.

The kickback scheme involved speaker programs in which Forest utilized as ways to persuade doctors to prescribe the three drugs. Forest provided payments and food even when the events were canceled, when no licensed health care professionals attended the programs, when the same people attended multiple programs within a short period of time and when the associated meals cost more than Forest generally allowed, the government said.

“Kickback schemes undermine the integrity of medical decisions and increase the costs of health care for everyone,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer said in a statement. “Such schemes are particularly of concern when they are designed to influence drug prescriptions, and the Department of Justice will vigorously pursue companies that subvert the law at the public’s expense.”

Of the $38 million that the government was able to recover, state Medicaid programs will get about $2.5 million and the whistle blower in the case is set to receive almost $8 million.
To read about a similar case of kickback schemes involving pharmaceutical companies, click here to read my prior blog.

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 whistle blower 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 www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Kennedy, John. “$38M FCA Payout Ends Kickback Suit Against Forest Labs.” Law360. (December 15, 2016). Web.

Tycko & Zavareei LLP. “Forest Laboratories and Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc. Settle Lawsuit Alleging Companies Engaged in Physician Kickback Scheme; Agree to Pay $38 Million.” The National Law Review. (December 19, 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: False Claims Act (FCA) defense attorney, legal representation for FCA suit, legal representation for submitting false claims to the government, whistle blower defense attorney, qui tam defense attorney, legal representation against whistle blower claims, legal representation for qui tam suits, legal representation for kickback scheme, alleged kickback scheme defense attorney, AKS defense lawyer, Medicare and Medicaid fraud defense lawyer, legal representation for Medicare and Medicaid fraud, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice investigations, DOJ investigation defense attorney, 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 © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Pharmacist Dismissed From FCA Kickback Suit

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

Former Ukrainian Village Pharmacy, Inc. (UVP) president, Svitlana Kharlamova, cannot be held liable for her alleged retaliation against another pharmacist.  Former UVP employee, Yury Grenadoyor, had filed a lawsuit accusing Kharlamova of participating in a scheme to waive Medicare co-payments.  On December 16, 2016, the lawsuit accusing Kharlamova for retaliating against Grenadoyor was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber.  Ukrainian Village Pharmacy, Inc., is located in Chicago, Illinois, and was purchased by CVS.

Appellate Court had Previously Dismissed Part of Case.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had previously dismissed the majority of the allegations, but left the retaliation claim.  The trial court judge, Judge Leinenweber, said the retaliation claim did not apply to Kharlamova because she was a partial owner of UVP and therefore, she individually, was not considered to be the employer under the FCA.

UVP Sold To CVS.

Grenadyor was looking to recover some of the money that Kharlamova earned when the pharmacy sold to CVS in 2010, according to the opinion.

Judge Leinenweber wrote, “Grenadyor cites a plethora of related authority to argue that he should be able to collect from her for the dissolved entity’s liabilities. This is all irrelevant, because it fails to address why Kharlamova should be liable in the first place as an individual under the FCA or IWRPA.”  IWRPA stands for the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act.

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 and claimed that UVP and several other pharmacies, largely controlled by the same family, forgave copays and did not tell Medicaid or Medicare.  The pharmacies still wanted the maximum reimbursement from the government, which could possibly be seen has a kickback because it increased their sales at the government’s expense.

Judge Keeps Retaliation Claim.

The Seventh Circuit upheld an earlier ruling from 2014 by Judge Leinenweber dismissing the case against all defendants, but kept in tact the retaliation claim. A plea from Grenadyor for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case was not accepted by the court. The retaliation allegation was left against Kharlamova and one more individual, Vasily Shevchuk.

Judge Leinenweber dismissed the claims against Kharlamova, but threatened to withdraw an earlier default judgement entered against Shevchuck for failing to respond to the lawsuit.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacists, Pharmacies, and Other Health Care Providers.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other healthcare provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

Sources:
Howk, Drew. “Seventh Circuit: ‘Information and Belief’ Insufficient Under 9 (b).” False Claims Act Defense. (December 4, 2016). Web.

“United States Grenadyor v. Ukrainian Village Pharmacy Inc.” FindLaw. (December 3, 2014). Web.

Corso, Jessica. “Pharmacy President Dropped From FCA Kickback Suit.” Law360. (December 16, 2016). Web.

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.

KeyWords: false claims, False Claims Act (FCA), Anti-kickback statute, Medicare false claims, Medicaid false claims, Medicare audit, The Health Law firm reviews, Medicaid audit, False Claims Act lawyer, fraudulent billing, health law firm, legal representation for health care providers, reviews of The Health Law Firm, Medicare fraud defense attorney, Illinois Whistleblower Reward and protection Act (IWRPA), health law, Medicaid fraud defense attorney, legal representation for False Claims Act, health law attorney, 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 © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved

New Jersey Woman Confessed to $1 Million DNA Testing Medicare Fraud Conspiracy.

3 Indest-2009-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 1, 2016, Sheila Kahl pled guilty in a New Jersey federal court n December 1, 2016. She admitted to taking part in a $1 million Medicare fraud scheme. Kahl admitted to two conspiracy charges deriving from a scheme involving a nonprofit organization that appeared to help seniors navigate through federal benefit programs. In reality, the organization served as a front to subject elderly victims into taking unnecessary DNA tests that Kahl and others would send to clinical labs for analysis. The participants in the scheme received “commissions” each time the labs were paid by Medicare or a private insurer.

A Scam For Senior Citizens.

Under the disguise of working for The Good Samaritans of America, a nonprofit organization that helps guide senior citizens through benefit programs, Kahl and others were able to gain access to low-income senior housing complexes and put on fear-based presentations to scare and convince residents that the tests were needed to avoid vulnerability to major health problems.

Scott J. Lampert, a special agent for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General stated, “This conspiracy involved stealing private medical information and used particularly callous scare tactics to convince elderly and vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries to submit medically unnecessary DNA testing. Today’s plea resulted from joint law enforcement action to detect and block a planned multistate expansion of this deplorable scam against the program and its enrollees.”

With no health professionals involved, Kahl and the others were able to conduct the check-swab DNA tests in the community rooms where the presentation they gave took place.

Kahl Did Not Act Alone.

Those who participated in the fraud scheme used Craiglists advertisements to recruit health care providers to authorize the tests and send them off to either a lab in Virginia or in California. The healthcare professionals received thousands of dollars per month to sign their names to requisition forms authorizing tests for patients they had never examined.

Co-conspirator Seth Rehfuss and Kahl then would pose as healthcare providers that sent the tests to the labs and were able to gain access to the patients’ test results. An investigation revealed that the conspirators were actively working toward spreading the fraud scheme outside of New Jersey to multiple other states.

Kahl Faces Jail Time.

At the end of the scheme, Medicare had paid out more that $1 million to two clinical laboratories. Rehfuss obtained more than $100,000 and paid “commissions” to Kahl of tens of thousands of dollars.

A criminal case against Rehfuss is currently pending in New Jersey federal court, however, Kahl faces up to 15 years in prison when she is sentenced in March 2017.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) investigations, Medicare Audit defense, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

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

Sources:
Wolf, Alex. “NJ Woman Admits Role In $1M DNA Testing Medicare Fraud.” Law360. (December 1, 2016). Web.

Park, Katie. “Pt. Pleasant Woman Part of $1M Medicare Fraud.” Asbury Park Press. (December 1, 2016). Web

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.

KeyWords: Medicare fraud defense attorney, healthcare fraud scheme, reviews of The Health Law Firm, Medicare fraud scheme, health law, Medicare fraud defense lawyer, Medicare investigation defense lawyer, Medicare audit defense counsel, The Health Law Firm reviews, co-conspritator in Medicare fraud scheme, health acre fraud defense counsel, healthcare fraud legal defense attorney, health law criminal defense attorney, health law criminal legal representation, The Health Law Firm, whistle blower defense lawyer

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

Major Health Care Reform Bill On FDA Approvals, Mental Health Policy Clears House

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 November 30, 2016, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The new bill overwhelmingly passed wide-ranging legislation meant to overhaul the drug approval process, boost biomedical research, and many other significant health-related policies.

The Bill.

The bill would change research prioritization and medication review rules at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Additionally, it would push medication development rules for a variety of items including new antibiotics to medical devices. The mental health reforms, originally developed in Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016, would create a greater emphasis on evidence-based mental health treatments. It aims to increase cooperation between federal agencies on mental health policy.

The bill passed with a 392-26 vote, largely supported by Republican National Committee (GOP) leaders like whip Steve Scalise, R-La. Scalise called the legislation an advance that would save millions of lives and move medical innovation back to U.S. shores.

Providing Additional Funding.

In addition to the push for medical development, the bill also encompasses a host of other big initiatives. This includes more than $5 billion in funding for the NIH and money to help the FDA; $1 billion for tackling the opioid epidemic; and provisions that are meant to help pair Americans who suffer from serious mental illnesses with available psychiatric beds.

The bill is expected to pass the Senate by the beginning of December 2016.

To learn more about the importance of raising awareness about mental health issues, click here to read one of my prior blogs on this topic.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Psychiatrists, Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Marital and Family Therapists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to psychiatrists, mental health counselors, psychologists, social workers and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, medical malpractice investigations, business transactions, contracts, structuring business ventures, clinical privileges actions, professional licensure matters, Board hearings, business litigation, Medicare and Medicaid audits, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

Often the early advice and representation of an experienced health law attorney can help avoid discipline which will be on your record for a lifetime.

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

Sources:

Mukherjee, Sy. “House Just Passed the Biggest Health Reform Bill Since Obamacare.” Fortune. (November 30, 2016). Web.

Macagnone, Michael. “Bill On FDA Approvals, Mental Health Policy Clears House.” Law360. (November 30, 2016). Web.

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. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“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.

Safeway Pharmacy Settles Medical Negligence and Wrongful Death Suit Over Woman’s Death

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 December 5, 2016, a Nebraska magistrate judge signed off on an agreement resolving a widower’s wrongful death suit. The medical negligence suit contends that Safeway pharmacists negligently dispensed methadone and another medication to the plaintiff’s now-dead wife even though using the drugs together is risky, ultimately leading to her death.

Medical Negligence.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas D. Thalken, granted a stipulation of dismissal in Brian Crawford’s litigation alleging that Safeway is liable for his wife’s death. Crawford alleges that Safeway is responsible for his late wife’s death because its pharmacists gave her both methadone and fluconazole, despite the fact that the medications are contraindicated for simultaneous use. Click here to read the order in full.

Brian Crawford, who originally filed suit in April 2014, alleged in an amended complaint later that year that Safeway “breached its duty to decedent Hilary Crawford by failing to provide reference material appropriate for the efficient and safe practice of pharmacy for use by its registered pharmacists which would alert the dispensing pharmacist of the adverse drug-drug interaction of methadone and fluconazole prior to the point of dispensing and delivering to decedent Hilary Crawford.”

To read the amended complaint, click here.

Crawford alleges that the failure to provide its pharmacists with those materials led to a number of missteps that contributed to her death in April 2012. For example, the pharmacists failed multiple times to provide Hilary Crawford with counseling and information about the increase in methadone when she was starting larger doses. Also, she was twice given another prescription for the drug before the prior one had run out, the complaint alleged.

The pharmacists also allegedly made several errors surrounding the dispensing of fluconazole to treat a yeast infection she contracted, according to the complaint.

The Other Side of the Story.

In its defense, Safeway moved to exclude the testimony of Brian Crawford’s toxicology expert, Henry Nipper, contending that his opinion lacked reliability. The company then followed up with a summary judgment bid in September, saying that without Nipper’s testimony, Brian Crawford wouldn’t be able to prove causation.

“There is not admissible evidence against Safeway that the combination of fluconazole and methadone taken by the plaintiff’s decedent caused her death. Rather, the overwhelming evidence is that the plaintiff’s decedent took twice as much methadone as she was instructed to by the pharmacy and by her physician. She exhibited signs of overdose in the several days prior to her death,” Safeway said. “Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms were not appreciated by her family and friends.”

However, Judge Thalken denied the motions in late September 2016, and the parties reached a settlement in October 2016, according to court filings.

To learn more about medical negligence suits, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacists, Pharmacies, and Other Health Care Providers.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other healthcare provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing physicians in investigations and at Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine hearings. We represent physicians accused of wrongdoing, in patient complaints and in Department of Health investigations.

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

Sources:

“Safeway Settles Medical Negligence Suit Over Woman’s Death.” Lexis Nexis. (December 5, 2016). Web.

Posses, Shayna. “Safeway Settles Medical Negligence Suit Over Woman’s Death.” Law360. (December 5, 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: Medical negligence lawsuit, wrongful death lawsuit, medical negligence defense attorney, wrongful death defense lawyer, legal representation for medical negligence, legal representation for wrongful death lawsuits, legal representation for pharmacists, legal representation for pharmacies, defense attorney for health care professionals, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Louisiana Board of Pharmacy attorney, Colorado Board of Pharmacy defense legal counsel, Virginia Board of Pharmacy defense lawyer, Kentucky Board of Pharmacy defense attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) Board of Pharmacy lawyer, Louisiana pharmacist attorney, Colorado pharmacist defense legal counsel, Virginia pharmacist defense lawyer, Kentucky pharmacist defense attorney, District of Columbia (D.C.) pharmacist lawyer

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