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If a Tree Falls in the Forest . . .

It was Bishop Berkeley who asked rhetorically, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” The judge in Pediatric Nephrology Assocs. v. Variety Children’s Hospital didn’t mention either the...more

The Case of the Bashful Whistleblower

William Nash filed a whistleblower case against his former employer but wanted to remain anonymous so that his new employer wouldn’t know that he is—you guessed it–a whistleblower. William’s qui tam action alleged Medicaid...more

Kentucky Physicians in the Headlines

Can any state rival Kentucky for keeping physicians in the headlines in recent days? Three big stories in a five-day span: On October 30 the Franklin Circuit Court struck down as unconstitutional a new Kentucky statute...more

Shakespeare on Medical Staff Credentialing

Who says a background in English literature has no practical value? Certainly not the attorneys defending Dimensions Health in a class action filed on behalf of patients treated by an OB/GYN on the Dimensions medical staff....more

11/9/2017  /  CMS , Health Care Providers , Physicians

The High Price of Frivolous Filings

If the facts recited by a federal court in its 148-page order are correct, two Florida plaintiffs’ law firms have given new meaning to the term frivolous filing. As a consequence of the filings, the court imposed sanctions of...more

Insurer Liable Though Physician Skips Med Mal Trial

Lancet Indemnity’s $1 M med mal policy had a standard clause requiring the insured, Dr. Ishtiaq Malik, to cooperate and assist Lancet and appointed counsel in investigating and defending claims. But when the family of...more

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Reverse False Claim

The False Claims Act has a scienter requirement: it makes it illegal to knowingly present a false claim to the government. So if a company innocently presents a false claim, it can’t be guilty of violating the Act, right?...more

In-Vitro Fertilization Inconceivable to Legislature

On Oct. 16 the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the statute covering children “conceived by means of artificial insemination” doesn’t cover children born by means of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Why? Well, for one thing, the...more

10/20/2017  /  Child Support , Divorce , Marriage

FDA Scolds Company Claiming to Bake with Love

Where’s the love? Apparently, not at the FDA. On September 22 the FDA issued Warning Letter CMS# 532236 to Nashoba Brook Bakery, of Concord, Mass. Among several infractions cited in the letter was one for the misbranding...more

Forced to Relay Fatal Diagnosis to Her Mother

A case in a Louisiana federal court addressed an unusual question: what if circumstances at a hospital require that you, rather than hospital personnel, be the one to tell your mother she has only two weeks to live? Do you...more

You-Can’t-Make-this-Up Award

From time to time a development in health law confirms the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. That’s why we hand out the You-Can’t-Make-this-Up Award for real life developments that seem to defy the imagination....more

10/6/2017  /  CMS , Health Care Providers

Imagination-in-Pleading Award

The Imagination-in-Pleading Award for September goes to plaintiff Willie Pearl Smith for her lawsuit against the Hospital Authority of Cobb County, Georgia, and related entities in connection with the death of her daughter,...more

How to Get a 2,333% ROI?

Three affiliated home health companies in Tennessee agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle False Claims Act (FCA) liability. That’s a lot of money, but it’s only about four percent of the $42 million in potential liability...more

Finally, Recovery of Attorney Fees for Government Overreach

There are two major, interrelated reasons why government contractors, including Medicare providers, are so afraid of the False Claims Act (FCA). One is the draconian nature of the liability: treble damages plus up to $21,916...more

Maybe the Yacht Was the Tip-Off

If you’re a surgical device distributor and you want to reward a surgeon for using your products on Medicare and Medicaid patients, you may want to choose a reward that’s less conspicuous than a yacht. That’s one lesson in...more

Ind. Upholds Reduction of Obese Decedent’s Life Expectancy

Actuarial tables put the life expectancy of a 31-year-old male at 46.5 more years. But when Christopher McDaniel died at 31, allegedly as a result of medical negligence, the court calculated his life expectancy at no more...more

Reverse Midas: Doctor Turns His $38K Debt into $65K Debt

Dr. Bob Halterman is something of a Midas-in-Reverse. His refusal to pay $38,000 he owed Johnson Regional Medical Center resulted in a $65,000 judgment in favor of the hospital. When the hospital recruited Dr. Bob, the...more

It’s Not Always Obvious What’s Obvious

If you think it’s easy to determine what’s obvious and what’s not, take a look at the recent Federal Circuit decision in Millennium Pharmaceuticals v. Sandoz. The lower court had determined that a process was obvious. The...more

Think You Know Hospital Staffing Levels?

A lot of people think they know something about hospital staffing levels: the proper ratio of nurses to patients. From time to time a legislator, patient advocate, or union spokesman will propose a required ratio—often a...more

Bad News for Whistleblowers: Defendant Pleads Guilty

At first glance, it looks nonsensical. How could it be bad news for False Claims Act whistleblowers that the defendant pleaded guilty to violating that statute—to committing the very Medicare fraud the whistleblowers alleged?...more

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

On August 7 Mission Hospital, in Asheville NC, learned the truth of Oscar Wilde’s observation that no good deed goes unpunished. That’s the day a federal court denied the hospital’s motion for summary judgment in a case...more

Patient Dies During Arbitration Agreement Rescission Period

What happens when a nursing home patient signs an arbitration agreement with a 30-day rescission, or cooling-off, period and then dies before the end of that period? Is the agreement enforceable because it wasn’t rescinded? ...more

Solution to One Problem Brings Two More

An August 2 FDA warning letter provides a reminder that solving one problem can create a new problem—or more. The letter to Coleman Peanut Co., in Petersburg VA, recites that the company uses a cat “as the firm’s pest...more

Keeping Patients Can Qualify as Dumping Them

EMTALA was enacted to prevent hospitals from turning away—or “dumping”—ER patients because they can’t pay. EMTALA requires a hospital to (1) provide a screening exam to determine if an emergency medical condition (EMC) exists...more

Tort Reform by Any Other Name

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but tort reform still smells bad to traditional opponents despite an attractive title. That’s why most observers believe that the House-passed “Protecting Access to Care Act,”...more

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