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July 2016 Archives

Lawmaker pushes for state to join Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

The way health care services are delivered is constantly changing as technology opens up new avenues for improving access and quality. One of the changes which has occurred in recent years is telemedicine, or health care services offered at a distance. States have different ways of regulating telemedicine services, with some opening the doors to the model and others taking a more limiting stance.

DOCTORS FACE INCREASED SCRUTINY OVER PRESCRIBING PATTERNS

In the past year or so, I have noticed an increased scrutiny by law enforcement officials over the prescribing patterns of doctors. In Philadelphia recently, three doctors were charged in a scheme to sell commonly abused prescription drugs in exchange for cash payments. These doctors sold prescriptions for suboxone and klonopin without conducting proper medical examinations or mental/health examinations as required by law. Pennsylvania Boards, which can reprimand, monitor, fine, suspend or revoke a physician's license, follow the lead of criminal prosecutors. If you are a doctor who prescribes pain medication or other medications subject to abuse, it is important that you properly document your medical evaluations of patients and take measures to minimize the chances that a patient is abusing or selling their medication. If you fail to do so, you could leave yourself open to an investigation and possible prosecution by the Pennsylvania Medical Board or the Pennsylvania Board of Osteopathic Medicine. If you are confronted by law enforcement or investigators from the Medical Board or Osteopathic Board, you should consult a criminal attorney who also specializes in practice before the various healthcare boards. Please call me if you want to discuss your options. 

PENNSYLVANIA APPROVES NEW GUIDELINES FOR DISTRIBUTING AND PRESCRIBING OPIODS

In an effort to combat the widespread overuse and misuse of opiods, the Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy and the Board of Medicine approved new guidelines for distributing and prescribing opioids. The state has worked with organizations including the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association and the Pennsylvania Dental Association to produce a half dozen sets of guidelines on opioids in various settings. The guidelines are voluntary and are intended to assist practitioners in changing the pattern of over prescription for chronic pain.
Pennsylvania's overdose death rate ranks among the worst in the nation. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported in an recent article that Pennsylvania lagged in disciplining healthcare providers who over-prescribe. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, May 23, 2016). With the heightened awareness of opioid over-use, I anticipate increased scrutiny over practitioners' prescribing patterns by law enforcement officials and their respective licensing boards
Should you be contacted by law enforcement officials or board investigators, do not speak with them until you contact an attorney who specializes in professional licensing and criminal prosecutions. If I can be of assistance to you, please call me.

HOW YOUR USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA CAN AFFECT YOUR CAREER

Today I read an article in a local Philadelphia paper about Jefferson University Hospital firing an employee because of her posts on social media. Although her posts did not mention Jefferson Hospital, her posts were racist in nature. I do not know whether or not this employee is a healthcare worker who holds a license in Pennsylvania with the Department of State; however, if she is, she could face disciplinary action against her license. If you post comments that are offensive in nature, you could conceivably be disciplined by a healthcare professional board if you are deemed to be guilty of immoral or unprofessional conduct.

Does a federal database pose a threat to your medical license?

There is a public file of physicians’ license records, disciplinary actions and malpractice payments. Called the National Practitioner Data Bank, the file is a federal repository whose records are updated by the institutions that manage doctors, including hospitals and HMOs. In fact, federal law requires reports to be filed with the Data Bank whenever a licensed doctor is facing certain disciplinary or adverse actions.

THE PERILS OF RECREATIONAL DRUG USE FOR GRADUATE NURSING STUDENTS

In the past year I represented several students in graduate nursing programs in the areas of nurse practitioner as well as certified registered nurse anesthetist who have been terminated from these programs for either recreational drug use or use of a pain medication without a prescription.

NURSING BOARD SANCTIONS FOR LYING ON A RENEWAL APPLICATION

Approximately two (2) years ago, the Healthcare Boards entered into a contract with a company called the Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET), whereby JNET will notify the Healthcare Boards of the arrests of any healthcare professionals.

Are professional licensing boards out of control?

From a consumer’s perspective, licensing boards might provide some level of confidence in the skills of a professional service provider. For example, doctors and lawyers must be licensed in order to practice, and licensing boards have the authority to suspend or revoke professional licenses for misconduct, ethical or other professional violations. In those instances, licensing serves an important public safety function.

If you are a licensed nurse, doctor, dentist, pharmacist or any other professional in Pennsylvania, call The Law Offices of Brian E. Quinn for help. Based in Philadelphia, our attorneys have decades of experience in the fields of professional license defense, criminal defense and family law.

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