Iryami Law Blog

Monday, June 24, 2013

When a Doctor's Best Friend is a Lawyer

It is not unusual for doctors--or perhaps, anyone--to feel a bit apprehensive about lawyers. But a recent article in a business publication discusses how sometimes a lawyer can be a doctor's best friend.

Yes, some lawyers bring medical malpractice cases against doctors on behalf of their patients. No, most doctors don't care much for those lawyers. As the article published in the Las Vegas Business Press points out, however, there exist other lawyers who help doctors safely navigate "a virtual minefield of state and federal regulations." There are various names for this field of law. Health Law is one. I prefer Healthcare Law.

Healthcare Law (or Health Law, if you prefer) appears to be little understood, as evidenced by the number of questions we receive about this practice area. Healthcare providers--be it, hospitals, nursing homes, or doctor's offices--have all the usual legal needs of any business. They have to have a lease with their landlord. They need employment agreements for their employees. And, they get sued by their vendors, as any business might. Healthcare being a heavily regulated industry, however, healthcare professionals must also comply with a myriad of federal and state regulations. Federal and state self-referral laws (STARK Law). Federal and state anti-kickback law. State professional licensing rules. State public health law. State privacy laws. And, oh yes, HIPAA.

All of these laws and regulations are part of that minefield that the article discusses.

Fortunately, there is some good news. As alluded to in the article, healthcare lawyers are there to walk doctors and other healthcare professionals through the minefield. And there are indeed safe passages through the minefield. Successful passage depends on the doctor and the healthcare lawyer working together. Doctors who fail to reach out to such lawyers, the article says, do so at their own peril.

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