U.S. District Court in Texas Orders Hospital to Void Report to National Practitioner Data Bank

10 Indest-2008-7By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 8, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order directing Memorial Health System of East Texas (Memorial Health) to submit a Void Report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). In the case Walker v. Memorial Health System, the court found the initial report, submitted after 30 days of an uncompleted proctoring requirement, to be improperly submitted because the Hospital had not specified that the proctoring take not less than 30 days.

Following a peer review process, Memorial Health ordered Dr. Walker to “have five bowel surgery cases proctored,” specifying no time limit. After a month, when the surgeon hadn’t met the five-case requirement, the hospital filed an adverse report with the NPDB. Dr. Walker filed suit and requested a preliminary injunction mandating that the Data Bank report be voided.

Was the Proctoring Requirement Reportable?

Memorial Health argued that because there is no private right of action under the Health Care Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA), the court was without authority to issue injunctive relief as to the Data Bank report. The court disagreed, finding “the premise that Dr. Walker is asserting a private right of action under HCQIA is not supported by the complaint.” Dr. Walker sought a preliminary injunction requiring the hospital to submit a retraction—a “Void Report”—to the Data Bank, on the grounds that his proctoring requirement wasn’t reportable.

The court ruled that because the duration of the proctoring was not specified, the action was not reportable. The proctoring requirements are reportable only if affirmatively imposed for more than 30 days. There is no such explicit requirement in the statute: section 11133(a)(1)(A) requires a report from an entity which “takes a professional review action that adversely affects the clinical privileges of a physician for a period longer than 30 days.”

Responding to Memorial Health’s argument that the injunction would cause it to violate NPDB rules requiring reporting after 30 days, the court disagreed, stating “It is the province of the federal courts – not the Hospital – to determine the requirements of HCQIA, a federal statute.” The court concluded that while the proctoring requirement was necessary, the Hospital could have easily drafted a sanction against Dr. Walker which required that proctoring “shall not be completed within less than 30 days.”

Although the order for injunctive relief is still pending the outcome of trial, the ruling raises issues of interest to lawyers working with hospitals and physicians about reportable proctoring requirements. To see the Memorandum Opinion and Order in full, click here.

Editor’s Comments.

This is certainly a precedential case of great interest to those of us who represent physicians, Nurse practitioners, dentists and other licensed health professionals who may get reported to the NPDB. Unless this case is appealed and reversed, it gives some hope to the many licensed health practitioners who find themselves wrongfully reported to the NPDB by a health institution. We have found this most frequently to have occurred with military physicians (Army, Navy, Air Force) and with Veterans Administration (VA) physicians who are given little or no due process of law before such reports are made.

For more information on the NPDB and how The Health Law Firm can help you, click here to visit our webpage.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm attorneys routinely represent physicians, physician assistants (PAs), nurses, nurse practitioners (NPs), dentists and other health professionals in dealing with reports being made to the NPDB, disputing NPDB reports and appealing NPDB reports, hospital clinical privileges hearings, medical staff fair hearings, medical staff peer reviews. 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 www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Harrison, Robert. “Texas Court Orders Hospital to Void National Practitioner Data Bank Report.” AHLA. (February 8, 2017). Web.

Tabler Jr., Norman. “When 30 Days is not 30 Days.” Faegre Baker Daniels. (February 20, 2017). 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: Hospital clinical privileges hearings, Medical staff fair hearings, Medical staff peer review, National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reports, Medical Staff clinical privileges hearings, Appeal of National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reports, Physician probation, Veterans Administration (VA) National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reports, Military physician National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reports, Army Physician National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reports, Air Force Physician National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reports, Navy Physician National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reports, legal representation for medical professionals, health law 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.

Doctor Agrees To Split Fees In $785M Pfizer FCA Deal

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

On November 29, 2016, Dr. William LaCorte, M.D., a whistleblowing physician in Metairie, Louisiana, helped win a $785 million False Claims Act settlement with Pfizer, Inc., one of the World’s largest pharmaceutical companies.  Dr. LaCorte agreed with his former lawyers on a split of attorney’s fees, which resolves one of the several disputes about paying multiple attorneys.

An Agreement Was Reached.

U.S. District Senior Judge Douglas P. Woodlock signed off on the agreement between whistle blower Dr. LaCorte and the doctor’s attorneys at Boone & Stone and Vezina & Gattuso LLC, on November 29, 2016. This gives Dr. LaCorte 62 percent of the relator’s share and 38 percent to three law firms.

Lawsuit Was First Filed In 2002.

This lawsuit first started back in 2002 when whistle blower Dr. LaCorte filed a lawsuit against Wyeth, Inc. Wyeth had received millions of dollars from filing false-claims lawsuits against multiple health care companies in July 2014, or so it was alleged.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2002, before Pfizer had purchased Wyeth.  The case was consolidated with a lawsuit from another whistle blower, Lauren Kieff. The U.S. Department of Justice intervened in 2009. The dispute was recently settled in earlier 2016 without an admission of wrongdoing hy the pharmaceutical companies.

The DOJ said that the LaCorte and Kieff case focused on discounts that Wyeth offered to hospitals that purchased oral and intravenous versions of Protonix. Wyeth did not offer that same discounts to Medicaid, which violated the program’s “best price” provision requiring all suppliers to give the Medicaid Program the best price it gives to anyone else.

Dr. LaCorte, the qui tam plaintiff or “relator,” had alleged in his earlier lawsuit that Pfizer’s unit Wyeth, Inc., had overbilled Medicaid for Protonix, a heartburn medication.  Dr. LaCorte was offered a $64 million relator’s share, and the states offered him a $34 million relator’s share.

Boone & Stone and Vezina & Gattuso were looking to receive approximately 40 percent of the award, which is fairly standard in qui tam cases. They also wanted the award to be split equally between the two firms, as well as with the Sakla Law Firm.

Still Problems After The Settlement.

Even though a settlement was reached, it does not solve all of the disputes about the ten of millions of dollars that the attorneys will share as part of their contingency fee.  The Sakla Law Firm is currently disputing with Boone & Stone and Vezina & Gattuso about their own subdivision of the award. The dispute continues to play out in federal court.

The Sakla Firm, which routinely handles FCA cases argued in a different lawsuit that Boone & Stone and Vezina & Gattuso did not deserve any attorney’s fees because they did not do any of the “important” work. The Sakla Law Firm claims that it did 95 percent of the work in this case.

Disputes Over Legal Fees.

Dr. LaCorte has a separate dispute with Wyeth, Inc., about legal fees which he claims the company owes him from the FCA suit.  According to Dr. LaCorte, Wyeth owes him $7.7 million in legal fees, in addition to $300,000 in costs.  Judge Woodlock apparently indicated that the parties should mediate their dispute.

A spokeswoman for Pfizer, Neha Wadhwa, stated in an e-mail dated November 29, 2016, “Given the limited role relator LaCorte and his counsel played in bringing about the ultimate settlement in this mater, and the deficient records supporting the latter’s fee request, as Pfizer indicated in its court papers, Pfizer believes his request is excessive and should be reduced.”

In motion papers in June 2016, Dr. LaCorte’s attorneys had said that $7.7 million was a reasonable amount under the law for a complex contingency case that required a vast amount of expenses.

Attorney’s Fees Reasonable or Not?

Knowing what goes into a major qui tam case, given the extremely large recovery for the government, it seems that $7.7 million is imminently reasonable.  This case extended over a 14 year period and.  I’m sure, the attorneys and their staffs did a tremendous amount of work on it.  In fact, I would query whether or not a Lode Star multiplier might be in order given the recovery made.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

Attorneys with The Health Law Firm represent physicians, nurses and other health professionals who desire to file a False Claims Act (whistle blower or qui tam) case.  This case just shows that even physicians can and should bring such claims and be rewarded for their whistle blowing activities.  However, the attorneys of The Health Law Firm also defend physicians, medical groups and health facilities who have been sued in False Claims Act (whistle blower or qui tam) cases or have had administrative or civil complaints filed against them to recover civil monetary penalties.  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 http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:
Elfin, Dana. “Wyeth to Pay $785M to End Medicaid False Claims Case.” Bloomberg BNA. (February 7, 2016). Web.

Loftus, Peter. “Pfizer to Pay $785 Million to Settle Medicaid Claims.” The Wall Street Journal (February 16, 2016). Web.

Amaral, Brain. “Whistleblower In $785M Pfizer FCA Deal Agrees To Fees Split.” Law360. (November 29, 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.

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

Finding an Attorney/Lawyer Who Takes Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) Insurance for Assisted Living Facility (ALF) Owners

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

We often hear from callers and clients in professional licensing complaints, Department of Health investigations and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), that they had good insurance coverage with Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) Insurance, but could not find an attorney that would accept it. Often these professionals retain us after action has been taken to appeal or attempt to reverse an adverse disciplinary action taken against their license.

This should not be a difficult task. Our firm and its attorneys have accepted HPSO Insurance for over 25 years.

Our firm has attorneys that are licensed in and can defend ALFs and owners in Florida, Colorado, Louisiana, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Additionally, there are many states, such as Tennessee, Georgia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and others, which allow us to appear before their boards and represent clients in these state under their “multi-jurisdictional practice” rules, because this is an area in which we routinely practice.

Legal areas in which we can represent an HPSO insured that HPSO will pay for include: administrative hearings, complaints against a professional license, an investigation of a complaint made against your professional license, a deposition you may be subpoenaed for, a complaint made for violation of HIPAA or patient privacy, and many others.

Regardless of the state, contact us at:

The Health Law Firm, Main Office
1101 Douglas Ave.
ALtamonte Springs, FL 32714
Phone: (407) 331-6620
Fax: (407) 331-3030
Website: http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com
Internet Contact: http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com/contact-us/

One last word, regardless of whether you are covered by HPSO Insurance or not, if an investigator contacts you to obtain a statement from you, whether orally or in writing, always, always, always, consult with an experienced attorney in this area BEFORE giving any statement or talking to the investigator about anything.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Assisted Living Facility Cases.

The Health Law Firm and its attorneys represent assisted living facilities (ALFs) and ALF employees in a number of different matters including incorporation, preparing contracts, defending the facility against malpractice claims, licensing and regulatory matters, administrative hearings, and routine legal advice.

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

About the Author: 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: Legal representation for Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs), legal representation for ALF owners, Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) investigation defense attorney, ALF defense attorney, legal counsel for AHCA investigations and hearings, health care professional defense attorney, legal representation for medical professionals, Florida HPSO health law attorneys, legal representation for cases dealing with HPSO insurance, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, Florida health law attorney, legal representation for administrative hearings, legal representation for complaints against a professional license, licensure defense attorney, legal representation for a complaint made for violation of HIPAA or patient privacy, legal representation for Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) and owners in Florida, legal representation for Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) and owners in Colorado, legal representation for Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) and owners in Louisiana, legal representation for Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) and owners in Virginia and legal representation for Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) and owners in the District of Columbia

“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

Texas Appeals Court Affirms$1.37 Million in Sanctions Against Doctor who Sued Hospital Former Employers

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 November 16, 2016, an appeals court in Texas affirmed a $1.37 million sanction against a doctor. The physician was ordered to pay the fine after the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit he filed against his former employers. The decision affirmed that the actions of his former employers, Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor) and Texas Children’s Hospital, did not cause the litigation fees which the court assessed to the doctor as sanctions.

The case had previously made its way up to the Texas Supreme Court, which makes the November 16, 2016, opinion the second time the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals has weighed in on the case. Additionally, it is the second time it has held the sanctions were merited for Dr. Rahul K. Nath.

The Back Story of the Case.

According to the opinion, Dr. Nath was employed by Baylor as a plastic surgeon and was affiliated with Texas Children’s Hospital. He was fired in 2004 and in February 2006 filed a lawsuit against his former supervisor at Baylor and Texas Children’s. According to court documents, Dr. Nath had accused his former supervisor of making defamatory statements about him after he stopped working. The alleged defamatory statements included that Dr. Nath had been fired, was unqualified and lacked professional ethics and integrity. (Note: We are just stating what was alleged in the lawsuit.)

To read the opinion in full, click here.

Were the Former Employers Responsible for the Accumulated Attorney and Litigation Fees?

The court was considering whether the behavior of Baylor or Texas Children’s was ultimately responsible for the fees accumulated litigation fees and expenses in the case. Previously, the trial court found that both Texas Children’s and Baylor’s actions had not caused the expenses for which Dr. Nath was sanctioned. The trial court wrote that the amount was appropriate as it was “far less” than the actual fees incurred by either party in defending Dr. Nath’s claims.

On appeal, Dr. Nath argued that the trial court hadn’t held a proper evidentiary inquiry, that it had based its sanctions award on “conclusory and self-serving” affidavits. Dr. Nath claimed that he was wrongly denied discovery in the case. To learn more about Dr. Nath’s challenge, click here.

Despite Dr. Nath’s arguments, the Fourteenth Court disagreed, holding that the trial court followed the exact instructions from the Supreme Court before deciding to impose the sanctions. Additionally, the court found that there was evidence in the record to support the conclusion that neither Texas Children’s nor Baylor’s conduct caused the expenses that were passed on to Dr. Nath as sanctions.

Adequate Supporting Evidence.

The first time the case came before the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, it affirmed the sanctions against Dr. Nath. The high court held that there was evidence to support the trial court’s finding of bad faith and improper purpose on Dr. Nath’s part with regard to certain filings in the case.

Dr. Nath appealed, and the Texas Supreme Court held that the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in finding the doctor had exercised bad faith and improper purpose in certain filings. The high court remanded it back to the trial court to consider to what extent, if any, Texas Children’s and Baylor’s actions may have “caused the expenses for which recovery is sought.”

After a hearing, the trial court determined that neither employer’s behavior caused the expenses, and again imposed the sanctions against Nath. In appealing that ruling to the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, Dr. Nath argued that the trial court had made procedural errors in hearings and evidence submission in reaffirming the sanctions.

The trial court granted Texas Children’s and Baylor’s motions in June 2010, and also sanctioned Dr. Nath $726,000 for a portion of Texas Children’s fees in defending the suit and $644,500 for a portion of Baylor’s. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling, and Dr. Nath appealed to the state Supreme Court.
To learn more about defamatory statements and how to handle such claims, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

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 www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Knaub, Kelly. “Texas Appeals Court Affirms Doc’s $1.3M Sanction.” Law360. (November 16, 2016). Web.

Knaub, Kelly. “Doc To Challenge $1.3M Sanction Before Texas High Court.” Law360. (January 15, 2014). Web.

“Texas Appeals Court Affirms Doc’s $1.3M Sanction.” LexisNexis. (November 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. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for health care professionals, health law defense attorney, legal representation for defamatory statements against health care professionals, legal representation for defamation lawsuit against a healthcare professional, healthcare litigation defense attorney, legal counsel for health care professionals, Legal representation for clients involved in the health care industry, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, 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.