Hey, Health Care Professionals, Why Can't We Be Friends?!

Monday, December 22, 2014
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

This past year our firm has attended more medical industry events than ever before. Needless to say, our law firm table is not the most popular hangout spot. If we had a penny for every time we have heard "Yikes, an attorney! I hope I never need you." we could close our doors and all retire.

The feeling is akin to being the last kid picked in gym class. So we ask ourselves: why are we attorneys shunned? Why won't anyone make eye contact with us at meetings and events? Why is there a negative stigma attached to the phrase "law firm?"

We found the answer.


It's Not Us. It's You.

Before you take offense to such a brazen statement, hear me out. Society as a whole has a misconceived notion that a law firm's services are solely for reactive purposes. meaning, you need defensive legal assistance. In these reactive situations, lawyers defend their clients to make the most out of an unfortunate situation. I frequently hear, "well nothing has gone wrong yet, so why do I need an attorney?" Here's the secret: We can do much more than help you when something has gone wrong.

To reap the maximum potential from your profession, you should be utilizing "legal checkups" instead of burying your head in the sand. First, it's more cost effective to hire a lawyer proactively BEFORE something goes wrong (proactive fees are more reasonable as opposed to emergency legal needs when your professional career is unraveling). When you are proactive about your legal needs, you have time to be selective in your lawyer shopping process. You can build a foundation before you invest in your legal needs. Typically, if you are in need of a lawyer to reactively defend you, you're already knee-deep and you won't be afforded the opportunity to browse.


Taking The Initiative Of Investing In Legal Business Advice.

The benefits of proactively obtaining an attorney are often overlooked. Having an attorney available at any time for legal protection and business advice may not cross a health care professional's mind. I find this to be ironic. Health professionals recommend patients to eat healthy, exercise often, take daily vitamins, and schedule regular checkups. All these suggestions are proactive measures to ensure a stable life, full of longevity. Doesn't it grind your gears when patients overlook your expert advice until something goes terribly wrong? We can both agree that preemptive measures are necessary in health and health care business.

I am not a medical expert, therefore, I would not attempt to perform a surgical procedure or offer a diagnosis. Legal services are the same. Most health care professionals cannot draft a contract or set up a partnership office flawlessly without legal expertise.


Proactive Legal Help We Often See Overlooked.

Whether it be our firm or not, health care professionals and businesses need a trusted health law attorney readily available to ask for help when additional legal knowledge, experience, or judgment is needed. The following list outlines health care business legal services that are proactive in nature.

    -    Obtain a contract review, of any agreement, before you sign the dotted line. It is crucial to 
          have a lawyer experienced in health law review convoluted documents that may bind you to
          terms and conditions that you should not be liable for.


    -    Hire an attorney to negotiate your employment contracts to ensure that you are fairly
         compensated for your work.


    -    A health law attorney adept in assisting with a business restructuring is invaluable. Whether
         you are opening or closing a medical office, taking part in a merger, or launching or dissolving
         a partnership, these transactions are complex. It is not in your best interest to attempt any
         business maneuver without the input of a trusted health law attorney who is familiar with your
         professional business goals.


    -    A compliance assessment is an important proactive measure for health providers and
         businesses. With the increase of federal and state oversight, it is wise to have a thorough
         review and analysis of your business protocols and procedures on a regular basis. An
         experienced health law attorney can help you avoid critical administrative pitfalls. These
         assessments verify compliance in areas such as: Medicare/Medicaid billing claims, patient
         record keeping, HIPAA and HITECH procedures, etc.


It's better to be safe than sorry. Hiring an attorney is NOT solely for the purpose of negative occurrences or damaging mistakes. As a health care professional, it is crucial to work with a trusted health lawyer to advise you in your business decisions. Don't rely on the notion that you don't need a lawyer until you are in trouble. Heeding our warning, you could save yourself a lot of time and money.

Oh, and next time you see us out in the community, stop by and say hello! I promise, we don't bite.


Comments?

What are your hesitations in retaining a lawyer before you have a problem? Do you see the value in obtaining a trusted legal adviser to assist you in the routine operations of your profession? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in Negotiating and Evaluating Physician and Health Professional’s Business Transactions.


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 (DME), medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider or facility.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, preparing contracts, helping employers and employees enforce contracts, advice on setting aside or voiding contracts, litigation of contracts (in state or federal court), business transactions, professional license defense, opinion letters, representation in investigations, fair hearing defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, litigation of restrictive covenant, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings.

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.


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The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

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George F. Indest III 12/22/2014

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