Tag Archives: doctors

PODCAST: Appealing adverse final rulings in healthcare discipline, discharge and termination

Today’s podcast interview with attorney Michael Cohen, focuses on his work with attorney Michael Favia in defending healthcare professionals and appealing adverse decisions from any state agency final ruling affecting involving discipline, discharge and terminations. There are many compelling reasons to file an appeal of a ruling affecting your healthcare career. Attorneys Cohen and Favia work as a team to fight for the professional being disciplined or terminated. USE THIS LINK TO LISTEN ANYTIME

Topics covered in this 30-minute interview:

  • Common elements in reportable healthcare discipline, discharge and termination cases;
  • Describing usual procedural processes leading to an appealable final ruling and decision;
  • The measurable impact of healthcare discipline or termination on a local and national level;
  • What to expect in appealing an adverse discipline, discharge or termination ruling.

Michael B. Cohen is a partner in the Chicago office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. Mr. Cohen represents clients in a wide variety of civil and criminal litigation matters, both state and federal at the trial and appellate levels, focused on complex commercial litigation. His litigation practice includes the areas of appellate law, bankruptcy, civil rights, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, estates and trusts, insurance coverage, medical malpractice defense, personal injury actions, privacy, professional liability, and real estate.

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Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to advise and represent health care professionals and the general Chicagoland community with a variety of legal issues. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburbs, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion.

For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please call (773) 631-4580, visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You may also connect with Attorney Michael V. Favia on LinkedIn and on Avvo.com where you may also read client endorsements and reviews.

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Facing challenges in documenting medical care

Every healthcare professional knows that, at some point in their medical practice, they may be called on to defend patient care. When time passes and our ability to accurately recall information is diminished we should be able to rely on documentation of events to answer questions. There are practices you can adopt that can make it easier to make a good habit of properly documenting everything that happens before, during and after patient care.

Documenting everything is not the only key component to keeping proper records. Your medical record entries must be adequate representations of what happened. Imagine a jury reviewing records in a medical malpractice case, assume they do not spend much of their time reading medical records. How might they react to inadequate records? What may be obvious to you may not be to them. When others are charged with judging your credibility, the quality of your medical records can either enhance or diminish your credibility.

Examples of detrimental documentation practices, as identified in the recently article published by The Doctors Company, The Faintest Ink.[i]

  • Gaps and delays in documentation
  • Illegible entries
  • Dictation with blanks
  • Unflattering or judgmental patient descriptions
  • Entries appearing to vent negative feelings
  • Altered records and records missing documents or entries

To ensure proper documentation, each time and every time, the best practice is to develop a system for entering and recording information. Almost like a checklist, you can determine the rules and procedures for managing information. Identify details regarding when, where, how, what and why information is recorded. While it may seem like extra work, at some point your medical records could be under review and read in isolation of other information. Therefore, every single time it is helpful to identify why an entry is being recorded.

Features and benefits of good documentation habits

Increased communication with patients and increased continuity of care should increase understanding, decrease misunderstanding. In many medical malpractice cases, the root of the problem leading to a complaint can often be identified as failure in the communication process.

One way to improve communication is to use dictation equipment to make your patient notes. When you dictate notes right in front of patients you are more likely to read the details into the notes so that the patient can understand everything. If, on the other hand, you are making dictation and sound cryptic or unclear, a patient could become nervous and worried about not having a clear understanding of their doctor visit.

When making entries, beware of the easy mistakes that you can make when using forms and templates. A simple mistake in recording information on a form can cause problems. If there is an error in checking boxes on one form, could there be more errors on other forms? Making independent notes every time you record patient information better insures accuracy and credibility of information.

It is a good idea to audit and review medical records to ensure that documentation procedures are consistently used. In the audit process, a reviewer may detect entries that may require a second look. If there is an error or missing information, it is always best to make a new record and attach it as an addendum to the original. Do not change or alter records when there is active or pending litigation.

For more tips on documenting patient medical records or if you have questions about exposure and liability in the event of a patient complaint or claim for malpractice, please be in touch with Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C.

About us: Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. Please visit www.favialawfirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his Avvo.com profile and on LinkedIn.

 

[i] Source for article summary: The Doctors Company, The Faintest Ink, By Carol Murray, RHIA, CPHRM, Patient Safety/Risk Manager II.

Will a DUI arrest and conviction affect my physicians or nursing license?

Physicians and nurses face serious and career impacting consequences when they are arrested and convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Illinois. The problems that licensed health care professionals may not be limited to the State of Illinois, if the offense occurs in Illinois and professional practices in states outside Illinois. These issues are not limited to offenses in Illinois, and out-of-state incidents are equally jeopardizing. The state licensing boards and agencies charged with keeping residents safe and regulating professionals take DUI charges seriously. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) can and will investigate and discipline its licensed physicians and nurses involved in DUI incidents. Disciplinary action in Illinois will likely follow a licensed health care professional in the future. Hiring the best lawyers and experts can make the difference between keeping and losing your career.

DUI arrests are frequent, especially in high enforcement areas with roadside sobriety checks

Many police departments in Illinois use roadside sobriety and safety checkpoints, particularly during peak travel times around the holidays. An officer who wants to find probable cause to search you and your vehicle can use a variety of indicators to justify a search, even your slight hesitation to answer questions or their opinion you braked too hard coming to a stop. In another scenario, you might be on your way home from a networking mixer and are rear-ended by a drunk driver. If your blood alcohol concentration exceeds the state limit of 0.08 percent, you are subject to arrest and conviction.

True or False: you cannot be arrested for DUI simply because you take prescription medication? False! Physicians and nurses take prescription medications like everyone else, and if the side of the pill container says anything about driving or operating a motor vehicle while taking the medication, that can also lead to a DUI arrest and conviction.

What happens if you are arrested for DUI in Illinois or out-of-state?

Call a professional licensing lawyer as soon as possible. Michael V. Favia is one of the Chicago area’s best known attorney defending physicians and nurses licensed in Illinois, because he is a former prosecutor for the IDFPR and he knows exactly how they operate and what you may be up against.

Attorney Favia will know how to properly advise you and how to report the DUI to the IDFPR and any other relevant board of regulation. These boards may have a range of fines or disciplinary sanctions they could seek to impose against you. If however, you are proactive in seeking counseling and rehabilitation efforts, in many cases, you may be able to minimize the damage and threat to your health care license.

Regulatory boards may be harsher if you are not timely and appropriate in your reporting the incident. Of course, the worst thing you could do is fail to report, which is a breach of your duty under the terms of the state conferring a license upon you in the first place. Attorney Favia, having been on both sides of the professional licensing fence, will be your best asset in protecting your career.

To fight the conviction and how zealous should you be?

While it may be appropriate to be humble and apologetic, zealously fighting a conviction can be in your best interest. Arrests are one thing, convictions are another; a conviction can lead to stronger fines and sanctions to your career, including the suspension or revocation of your physician or nursing license. A conviction versus arrest record can also lead to difficulties in other states.

The National Practitioner Data Bank may contain records of reports of DUI arrests and convictions. A simple note to the file indicating an arrest was not carried through to conviction may satisfy the State of Illinois regulatory boards such as the IDFPR, but it could lead to more strict penalties in other states where you may be licensed, now or in the future.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C., works with physicians and health care professionals who are arrested and face conviction for DUI, helping clients mitigate the damage to their license and future health care career.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent licensed physicians in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit www.favialawfirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his Avvo.com profile and on LinkedIn.

Image source: http://bit.ly/1qb9oCO

 

Murder conviction: Doctor gets 30 years, patient drugs overprescribed

Image Source: LA Times, California doctor convicted of murder in overdose deaths of patients. http://lat.ms/1WnJRUF

Image Source: LA Times, California doctor convicted of murder in overdose deaths of patients. http://lat.ms/1WnJRUF

In a landmark legal decision earlier this month, the doctor convicted by a jury for second-degree murder of patients was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.[i] The doctor allegedly overprescribed drugs to patients. In response to the landmark decision and murder conviction, the medical community may change the rules and protocols for managing patient prescriptions for narcotics. When administered properly, drugs are safe, but when mixed in the wrong combinations or taken in excessive doses, drugs are lethal. Like other licensed professionals, doctors are uniquely trusted by most people as lifesavers, often expected to perform miracles. It is contrary to the general standards of decency to which many of us are accustomed, to question whether a doctor would overprescribe drugs to a patient to the point of death.

The jury answered the question whether Los Angeles Dr. Hsiu-Ying (Lisa) killed her patients.

During the trial, jurors heard testimonial evidence from some family members of Lisa’s patients who called the doctor a “drug pusher” and asked her to stop prescribing medication.[ii] The prosecutor told jurors that Lisa’s routine of prescribing drugs was full of “red flags,” and despite receiving more than 12 reports from law enforcement or coroners saying, “Your patient has died,” Lisa did not change her prescription habits.[iii]

If Lisa knew that her patients were dying and the cause was connected with the drugs she was prescribing, the inference is that she did not care whether the patients were at risk of death. Why would a physician overprescribe drugs? In many cases where doctors are prescribing pain medications, those drugs find their way into the wrong hands when patients misrepresent their health history for the purpose of obtaining a prescription with the intent to sell the drugs. Was Lisa a “drug pusher?”

The prosecutor told the jury that Lisa, “agreed to give patients powerful narcotics without asking follow-up questions even after some – including an undercover agent posing as a patient – told her about their drug addictions. “She wrote them a prescription for the very thing they’re addicted to.[iv]”” Lisa’s attorney defended her client and argued that Lisa was not motivated by money. The countless reports of warning signs and questionable prescription practices are troublesome in the medical community where the good and ethical physicians get nervous about prescribing certain narcotics.

If doctors fear criminal liability for patient death connected with narcotics, fewer people with legitimate needs might find a path to recovery.

Medical malpractice insurance may pay the loss of life claim if a doctor is found liable for negligence, but the malpractice policy does not apply to criminal liability and it will not keep a doctor out of prison. Imagine a patient is manipulative and deceitful, and an unknowing doctor prescribes painkillers that the patient sells to others and someone dies. Is the doctor going to be criminally liable? Could there be an imposition of strict liability for deaths related to painkiller prescriptions? If physicians are to be held to a super hero standard where mistakes are not allowed, we might see lower enrollments in medical schools because the risks of the practice of medicine would dissuade our brightest scholars from becoming doctors.

The conviction and sentencing of a physician, in connection with prescribing drugs, is compelling, especially where very few doctors nationwide have faced similar charges, and the ones who do are often acquitted. It is likely that the medical community may respond with new advice and protocols to prevent future cases of abuse and death.

Michael V. Favia & Associates represent and defend doctors and their medical practice.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent licensed physicians in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies. When a physician is accused, no matter in what form, of wrongdoing or negligence, it is imperative to manage the situation appropriately. In some instances, there is a duty to report, and when done correctly, the results are greatly improved.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit www.favialawfirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his Avvo.com profile and on LinkedIn.

 

[i] Los Angeles Times, Doctor convicted of murder for patients’ drug overdose gets 30 years to life in prison, by Marisa Gerber, Feb. 5, 2016.

[ii] Los Angeles Times, California doctor convicted of murder in overdose deaths of patients, by Marisa Gerber, Lisa Girion and James Queally, Oct. 30, 2015.

[iii] See HNi above.

[iv] See HNii above.