Stat Law Update May 2009

First Drywall Now Heparin

According to the FDA, two (2) Chinese companies shipped contaminated heparin to the U.S. that could have proven deadly.  The FDA said none of the heparin reached patients because it was intercepted at the border.  Unfortunately, more than 500 million tons of Chinese drywall made it across the border.  The drywall was used in an estimated 100,000 homes throughout the Southeastern U.S.  Homeowners have complained of coughing, irritated eyes, difficulty breathing and other symptoms caused by the drywall.

Physicians Must Keep Charts On Family, Friends And Employees

Number 5 on the Board of Medicine's Top 10 Laws and Rules Every Physician Should Know: Physicians must keep charts on everyone they treat including family, friends and employees. Board of Medicine Rules and Florida Laws require this. A prescription creates a physician-patient relationship that, by law, requires an medical adequate record. A copy of the prescription (even if it is called in) must be kept in the patient's record.  Don't lose your license over a simple matter like this.

Keep Your Medicare Information Current

All Medicare providers are required to notify Medicare of any changes in their enrollment information within thirty (30) days of the change. Providers are also cautioned to respond quickly and completely to any request for information from CMS or the Medicare Carrier. Failure to keep enrollment information current or failure to respond to a request from CMS or the Medicare Carrier can result in revocation of a physician's billing privileges. We have dealt with many horror stories where a physician did not receive a letter or notice from Medicare or it was returned because the address was incorrect or no longer valid. Medicare revokes the Medicare number because of this (as a fraud avoidance mechanism). Worse yet, the physician is then barred from reapplying to be a Medicare provider for 1 to 3 years.

Identify Theft Red Flag Rules

The Federal Trade Commission Red Flag Rules that require creditors to institute programs to prevent identity theft become effective on May 1, 2009.  A physician is a creditor if the physician defers patient payments by billing for services or if the physician accepts the patient's co-pay and bills the insurance company.  Under the rules, physicians must implement and maintain identity theft prevention programs designed to detect, prevent and mitigate identify theft.

More Physicians Opting Out Of Medicare

Recently, the New York Times reported that physicians are opting out of Medicare in increasing numbers because they are frustrated with Medicare's low reimbursement and increased paperwork requirements.  After a physician opts out of Medicare, neither the physician nor the physician's patient may request payment from Medicare for a service provided by the physician.