Florida Supreme Court Upholds Amendment 7, Right of Patients to Documents on Adverse Events

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

The Florida Supreme Court in Charles v. Southern Baptist Hospital, on January 31, 2017, issued a decision dealing with the relationship of Florida’s Constitution Amendment 7, allowing patient access to documents on adverse medical incidents, and the Federal Patient Safety Quality Improvement Act (PSQIA). The Florida Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court’s interpretation of the PSQIA and that the PSQIA preempted Amendment 7. It ruled that PSQIA was never intended as a shield against the production of documents and that Amendment 7 and other provisions of Florida law are not preempted by PSQIA (which it stated only set up a voluntary system for hospitals to improve patient safety).

The Florida Supreme Court stated that records do not become patient safety work product simply because they are placed in a patient safety evaluation system or submitted to a patient safety organization (PSO), because health care providers have an independent obligation to maintain them and allow patients to access them. A health care provider cannot classify them as confidential and privileged patient safety work product under PSQIA, if they are required to maintain them by separate laws.

Concerning preemption, the Florida Supreme Court indicated that Congress did not intend to preempt state laws or constitutional amendments through the passage of PSQIA, which created a voluntary reporting system. The PSQIA is supposed to operate within existing state reporting and discovery laws. The federal act was intended by Congress to improve the overall healthcare in the system, not to act as a shield to providers, thereby eliminating important right afforded to Florida citizens under Amendment 7. The Supreme Court stated “healthcare providers should not be able to unilaterally decide which documents will be discoverable and which will not in medical malpractice cases.”

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Complex Litigation.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes 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 health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The services we provide include disputes with health insurers, defense of audits, litigation of overpayment demands, reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. Our attorneys litigate in state courts, federal courts, state administrative hearings and federal administrative hearings. We represent plaintiffs and defendants in complex litigation matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at http://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. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
KeyWords: Legal representation for health facilities in complex litigation, legal representation for health care professionals in complex litigation matters, complex litigation defense attorney, business litigation defense attorney, health care litigation attorney, complex litigation lawyer, Florida health law attorney, 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

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Florida Federal Judge Triples Award to $347 Million in Rare Whistleblower Case

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

On March 1, 2017, a Florida federal judge tripled a $115 million damages award for the government to $347 million after a jury found that the operators of 53 nursing facilities submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid. U.S. District Judge, Steven D. Merryday, upheld the jury’s $115 award affirming that the operators of the 53 nursing facilities had violated the False Claims Act (FCA). The case is U.S. ex rel. Ruckh v. CMC II LLC et al., case number 8:11-cv-01303, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The whistleblower in the case, Angela Ruckh, a former nurse at two of the facilities, brought the allegations against four defendants that they had submitted false claims and fraudulent records to the government. The four defendants in the case are CMC II LLC, Salus Rehabilitation LLC, 207 Marshall Drive Operations LLC and 803 Oak Street Operations LLC.

Details of the Case.

On February 15, 2017, the jury found that the four defendants had falsely increased the amount of resources needed for their patients needed, in order to get more money from Medicare and Medicaid. In the jury’s verdict, the four defendants were ordered to pay $115 million in damages for violating the FCA. Click here to read the jury’s verdict in full.

Treble Damages for FCA.

This rare FCA case that both went to trial and received a jury verdict, called for treble damages. The four defendants received penalties proportionate to the jury’s allocated findings. Sea Crest Health Care Management, L.L.C. and CMC II, LLC were ordered to pay $291,160,608 to the U.S. government and $39,897,291 to the Florida government. Salus Rehabilitation LLC was required to pay $484,000 to the U.S. government. 207 Marshall Drive Operations L.L.C. incurred $6,266,424 of damages owed to the federal government and 803 Oak Street Operations, LLC was penalized $10,055,961 to be paid back to the U.S. government. Click here to read the order from this case in full.

To learn more about FCA violations and cases of fraud involving a relator or whistleblower, click here to read one of our prior blogs.

Nurses and Other Employees Are Often Whistle Blowers in These Big Cases.

It is often a nurse or other health professional employed by the facility that is the whistle blower in such cases. They are in a position to know whether or not services are being provided and whether or not they are medically necessary. They are often in a position to see if false bills are being submitted for the patients.

In a case such as this one, where the U.S. did not intervene to take the case forward and the whistleblower and her attorneys did, she can receive an award of up to thirty percent (30%) of the recovery or $104,100,000.

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 whistleblower/qui tam cases, in which we represent the person who files the claim.

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

Sources:

Smith, Mara. “Florida Judge Trebles Award to $347 Million in Whistleblower Case.” AHCA. (March 1, 2017). Web.

Bolado, Carolina. “Judge Triples Nursing Home Cos.’ Fraud Penalty To $347M.” Law360. (March 6, 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: False Claims Act (FCA) violations, FCA defense attorney, Medicare and Medicaid fraud defense attorney, Medicare false claims, legal representation for FCA violations, legal representation for overbilling Medicare and Medicaid, legal representation for submitting false claims to the government, Legal representation for Medicare fraud, legal counsel for Medicare audit, legal representation for whistleblower, qui taim, qui tam suits, qui tam relator, whistleblower defense attorney, Medicare fraud defense attorney, Medicaid fraud 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.