Little Known Facts About State and DOH Investigations That Could Save Your Professional License

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

The notice that you are under investigation may seem nonthreatening. It may come in the mail, be delivered personally by an investigator or you may receive a telephone call from the investigator. This is a very serious matter for you.

Our attorneys include those who are board certified in health law by The Florida Bar, those who are nurses, and those who are themselves licensed health professionals.  Our attorneys represent health care professionals and providers at formal administrative hearings at the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), in defense of administrative complaints and in informal hearings before the Department of Health (DOH).
The Following is a list of little known facts about state investigations (including DOH investigations) that could save your license:

1. You do not have to make any statement at all to an investigator.  The Fifth Amendment applies to administrative investigations that can affect your license in Florida.  We recommend you never speak to an investigator or make any statement.  Let your attorney do this for you.

2. You do not have to sign an affidavit that your health records are complete.  In fact, we strongly recommend against doing this.  Consult an experienced health lawyer in who has experience in litigating your type of case before signing anything.

3. If you receive a DOH subpoena for records, you do not necessarily have to provide them.  You may file an objection to producing them based on an invasion of the privacy of the patient, lack of relevance to the investigation, super-confidential medical information (including HIV/AIDS testing or information, drug or alcohol counseling or testing information, or mental health information) or other proper grounds.  In one case, our client received a subpoena for copies of her professional school records and when we checked the case number for the case in which it was issued, the case did not exist.

4. The Surgeon General (formerly known as the Secretary of the Department of Health) does not have the authority to enforce a subpoena or to issue a final order to you compelling you to respond to the subpoena.  Only a court of law with jurisdiction has the legal authority to compel you to produce records in response to a DOH subpoena.

5. If you have filed an objection to an administrative procedure, you cannot be legally charged with violating an order from the head of the agency to produce those records.  The Surgeon General (formerly known as the Secretary of the Department of Health) does not have the legal authority to enforce such subpoenas.

6. If you are facing an emergency suspension order (ESO) for certain types of misconduct (e.g., drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct, mental impairment) you may be able to submit a voluntary request/agreement to refrain from practice in the state of Florida.  This may avoid having an ESO issued, which is a public record and is published through the media.  If you have a license in another state, you may still practice in that state.

7. A voluntary relinquishment of your professional license after an investigation has begun is treated the same as a revocation of your license.  This may result in a report being made to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) or the Healthcare Integrity Procurement Data Bank (HIPDB) just the same as a revocation of your license would be (even for LPN, R.N., or ARNP).  This will then result in your exclusion from the Medicare and Medicaid Programs, and you debarment/exclusion from all government contracting or employment.

8. You do not have to report a pending DOH investigation against you to anyone.  A DOH investigation is and remains completely confidential until at least ten (10) days after there is a finding of probable cause.

9. Until there is a suspension or other final action taken against you, there is no indication on your license or in your licensure file that you are being investigated.
If you receive notice that the Department of Health (DOH) has opened an investigation against you, contact The Health Law Firm immediately, before you talk to an investigator.

To learn more about how The Health Law Firm can assist you if you find yourself in this situation, click here.

To learn more on how to protect your medical license, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals Today.

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.

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 Department of Health (DOH) investigations, legal representation for DOH complaints, licensure defense attorney, DOH defense attorney, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for disciplinary actions against your license, legal representation for license revocation, licensure defense attorney, administrative complaint attorney, legal representation for administrative complaints, Board of Medicine representation, legal counsel for Board representation, The Health Law Firm, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorneys review

“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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Little Known Facts About State and DOH Investigations That Could Save Your Professional License

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

The notice that you are under investigation may seem nonthreatening. It may come in the mail, be delivered personally by an investigator or you may receive a telephone call from the investigator. This is a very serious matter for you.

Our attorneys include those who are board certified in health law by The Florida Bar, those who are nurses, and those who are themselves licensed health professionals.  Our attorneys represent health care professionals and providers at formal administrative hearings at the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), in defense of administrative complaints and in informal hearings before the Department of Health (DOH).
The Following is a list of little known facts about state investigations (including DOH investigations) that could save your license:

1. You do not have to make any statement at all to an investigator.  The Fifth Amendment applies to administrative investigations that can affect your license in Florida.  We recommend you never speak to an investigator or make any statement.  Let your attorney do this for you.

2. You do not have to sign an affidavit that your health records are complete.  In fact, we strongly recommend against doing this.  Consult an experienced health lawyer in who has experience in litigating your type of case before signing anything.

3. If you receive a DOH subpoena for records, you do not necessarily have to provide them.  You may file an objection to producing them based on an invasion of the privacy of the patient, lack of relevance to the investigation, super-confidential medical information (including HIV/AIDS testing or information, drug or alcohol counseling or testing information, or mental health information) or other proper grounds.  In one case, our client received a subpoena for copies of her professional school records and when we checked the case number for the case in which it was issued, the case did not exist.

4. The Surgeon General (formerly known as the Secretary of the Department of Health) does not have the authority to enforce a subpoena or to issue a final order to you compelling you to respond to the subpoena.  Only a court of law with jurisdiction has the legal authority to compel you to produce records in response to a DOH subpoena.

5. If you have filed an objection to an administrative procedure, you cannot be legally charged with violating an order from the head of the agency to produce those records.  The Surgeon General (formerly known as the Secretary of the Department of Health) does not have the legal authority to enforce such subpoenas.

6. If you are facing an emergency suspension order (ESO) for certain types of misconduct (e.g., drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct, mental impairment) you may be able to submit a voluntary request/agreement to refrain from practice in the state of Florida.  This may avoid having an ESO issued, which is a public record and is published through the media.  If you have a license in another state, you may still practice in that state.

7. A voluntary relinquishment of your professional license after an investigation has begun is treated the same as a revocation of your license.  This may result in a report being made to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) or the Healthcare Integrity Procurement Data Bank (HIPDB) just the same as a revocation of your license would be (even for LPN, R.N., or ARNP).  This will then result in your exclusion from the Medicare and Medicaid Programs, and you debarment/exclusion from all government contracting or employment.

8. You do not have to report a pending DOH investigation against you to anyone.  A DOH investigation is and remains completely confidential until at least ten (10) days after there is a finding of probable cause.

9. Until there is a suspension or other final action taken against you, there is no indication on your license or in your licensure file that you are being investigated.
If you receive notice that the Department of Health (DOH) has opened an investigation against you, contact The Health Law Firm immediately, before you talk to an investigator.

To learn more about how The Health Law Firm can assist you if you find yourself in this situation, click here.

To learn more on how to protect your medical license, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals Today.

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.

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 Department of Health (DOH) investigations, legal representation for DOH complaints, licensure defense attorney, DOH defense attorney, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for disciplinary actions against your license, legal representation for license revocation, licensure defense attorney, administrative complaint attorney, legal representation for administrative complaints, Board of Medicine representation, legal counsel for Board representation, The Health Law Firm, health law defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorneys review

“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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Appeals Court Affirms Discipline for Doctor Who Sold Prescriptions at Bar

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

On December 15, 2017, a physician who sold painkiller prescriptions to patients at a bar and restaurant, had his two-year probation for unprofessional conduct upheld by a Maryland appeals court. The court upheld the decision after it found that the evidence supported the state board’s disciplinary decision.

Unprofessional Conduct Alleged.

The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the ruling by the Maryland State Board of Physicians (Board) to reprimand Dr. Walter Kozachuk and place him on probation for a minimum of two years for unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine. The Board claimed he would routinely meet with patients at a restaurant and bar and give them prescriptions for painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs in exchange for $100 per prescription. Additionally, on at least one occasion, he allegedly gave a patient a prescription in a parking lot.

The appeals court determined that there was substantial evidence supporting the board’s determination that the doctor’s sale of prescriptions in a non-office setting constituted unprofessional conduct. To read the court’s opinion in full, click here.

How You Can Avoid Legal Issues.

As a physician, you should be proactive in avoiding drug seeking patients and illicit clinic owners or coworkers. With the power of prescribing comes a great responsibility. Don’t find yourself behind bars when it can all be prevented. Here are some tips to learn from the recent pain management clinic raids.

1.    Avoid working for practices or clinics that have reputations as pill mills.

2.    Most physicians subject of investigations, such as the one written about here, are typically the sole physician in the clinic. Join a team setting in a group practice with other full-time physicians.

3.    Document everything. Make sure all medical records meet the requirements of state and federal laws. Verify all patients’ identities and be sensitive to possible false identifications.

4.    Make sure you know about everything going on in your office. Maintain a loyal and trustworthy staff who will report irregular behavior to you as physician. Have a zero tolerance for staff violations.

5.    Do NOT ever allow a lay person or non-physician to control your office. Do not give anyone like this sole access to medical records, billings, bank accounts or scheduling. Make sure that you are the one in control of these, that you have the passwords and access numbers, and that your constantly review these. You will be held accountable for this so you should remain in control.

To read more physician tips on protecting yourself and your license, click here.

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, pain management doctors, 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.  We represent physicians in complaints against their medical licenses.  We also handle appeals of board of medicine cases.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Source:

Kang, Peter. “Md. Court Affirms Discipline For Doc Who Sold Scrips At Bar.” Law360. (December 15, 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, legal representation for unprofessional conduct, legal representation for employment issues, legal representation for pill mill allegations, doctor defense attorney, Board of Medicine defense counsel, medical board defense attorney, professional license defense lawyer, legal representation for prescription drug trafficking, pill mill laws, legal representation for prescribing controlled substances, pain management doctor, legal representation for pain management physicians, legal defense for pain management professionals, legal defense for doctors, legal representation for prescription drug crackdown, legal representation for prescription drug abuse, legal representation for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)investigations, legal representation for Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigations, legal representation for Department of Health (DOH) investigations, DOH 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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Makes Changes to Florida Impaired Practitioners Program

indest1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On May 31, 2017, Florida Governor, Rick Scott, signed into law House Bill 229 (Ch. 2017-41, Laws of Florida), which made changes to the statutory basis for Florida’s impaired practitioner programs. The impaired practitioner program for nurses in Florida is the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN), which is a for-profit corporation, The impaired practitioner program for doctors, dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, and all other licensed health professionals is the Professionals Resource Network (PRN), a non-profit corporation.

The program, as envisioned in the statute, is designed to assist health care practitioners who are impaired as a result of the misuse or abuse of alcohol or drugs, or of a mental or physical condition, which could affect the ability to practice with skill and safety.

Revisions to the Program.

The new law requires DOH to establish terms and conditions of the program by contract, provides contract terms, requires DOH to refer practitioners to consultants and revises grounds for refusing to issue or renew license, certificate, or registration in health care professions.

A significant change in the program involved a licensee’s duty to report colleagues that have or are suspected of having an impairment. The new law creates an exception to the mandatory reporting of an impairment to the DOH. The new revision will allow a licensee who knows that a person is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety due to an impairment, to report such information to the consultant, rather than DOH. Both the core licensure statute and individual practice acts are amended to include this language.

Be sure to check Florida’s DOH website regularly for news and updates, here.

To learn more about how The Health Law Firm can help you with matters involving the DOH, click here.

If You Are Instructed to Contact IPN or PRN, Call an Attorney First.

If you are ever instructed by your employer or anyone else to report yourself to the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN) or to the Professionals Resource Network (PRN), consult with an experienced health law attorney first. There are many problems that you can avoid by having good legal advice before you make a stupid mistake. We are often consulted and retained by clients when after they have made mistakes in talking to the wrong people about the wrong things and are in a situation they could have avoided.

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. We represent impaired physicians and other health professionals in Professional Resource Network (PRN) and disruptive physician matters.

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

“Changes to Florida Reporting for Impaired Practitioners.” Holland & Knight LLP. (June 7, 2017). Web.

Mckown, Mia. “Changes to Florida Reporting for Impaired Practitioners.” Lexology. (June 7, 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 impaired physicians, Legal representation for Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN) attorney, Professionals Resource Network (PRN) defense legal counsel, DOH investigation defense attorney, legal representation for investigations against health care professionals, legal representation for Florida DOH investigations, Florida DOH representation, DOH complaint defense, legal representation for DOH complaint, Florida impaired practitioners program, legal representation for PRN matters, legal representation for IPN matters, legal representation for disruptive physician issues, health law defense attorney, legal representation for health care professionals, changes to Florida impaired practitioners program, legal representation for health care investigations, The Health Law Firm reviews, reviews of The Health Law Firm attorneys, 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.