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Seven Things To Know When You Receive A Notice Of Investigation From The Department Of Health

Emergency Representation

Emergency Representation at Board Meetings, Emergency Representation at Credentials Committee Meetings, Emergency Representation at Depositions, Emergency Representation at Informal Hearing

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm are often called on by health professionals, including physicians, dentists, nurses, mental health counselors, psychologists and others, at hearings, depositions and other proceedings on short notice.  Although the lack of sufficient time before a hearing or other proceeding may compromise our ability to prepare, nevertheless we strive to represent the client under such circumstances as best as feasible.  Often, having an experienced health care attorney involved in such a proceeding is a great benefit to the client.

When given sufficient lead time, we attempt to obtain all existing files and records relating to the client and the client’s case.  We attempt to obtain discovery from the opposing side.  We attempt to develop documentary evidence and witnesses that will support the client.  We research the law on the issues in the case so that we can develop proper defenses.  However, if there just isn’t sufficient time, we do the best we can, under the circumstances, to protect the client’s interest.

In many cases, a hearing officer, administrative law judge or professional board will grant a continuance if a new attorney who is not familiar with the case becomes involved.  Sometimes we find that the client did not understand the implications of requesting an informal hearing and really desires a formal hearing.  In such a case, a motion to convert the case to a formal hearing might be the appropriate step to take.

In many cases, a client’s professional liability insurance may cover the legal expenses of professional license defense, administrative proceedings, Medicare or Medicaid audits or depositions.  However, insurance companies require lead time, as well.

Following are some recommendations:

1.    Research, locate and contact an attorney experienced in your type of action as early as possible.

2.    Contact your insurance company at your first notice to determine whether or not you have insurance coverage for such a matter.

3.    Be sure you understand the legal implications and possible adverse consequences that may arise out of an adverse finding against you in such proceedings.  These may include: A civil lawsuit against you, report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) exclusion from the Medicare Program, termination for cause from the state Medicaid Program, loss of your professional license and/or loss of your licenses for other facilities.

4.    Determine whether or not you intend to dispute the facts that are stated against you, including whether or not there really was a violation and whether or not you have a valid defense to it.  If so, then you must request a formal hearing.  At an informal hearing, you are not allowed to dispute or contest any facts alleged against you.  In effect, you are pleading guilty.

Obtain the services of an experienced health lawyer as early in the process as possible.  If you only have a limited budget to spend on the case, make that clear up front and see if the attorney will agree to represent you for that fixed amount.  In many cases, the attorney may be able to represent you on a fixed budget.  In others, the time that will be spent and the costs associated with preparing your case may not make it feasible for the attorney to take the case.

Stay away from attorneys who have no experience of the kind you need.