Health Law

Urgent Message: The owners and operators of urgent care centers are liable only for “foreseeable” events, which generally excludes a car crashing into an urgent care center and other “freak” accidents. Perhaps it’s the last story on a newscast, or in the strange-but-true section of the newspaper or a website: a vehicle crashes into an urgent care center. As strange as this news may seem, it’s not entirely uncommon. In the past decade, there have been at least 13 incidents of motor vehicles crashing into urgent care facilities—some of whichRead More

Posted On May 30, 2017 By In Health Law

Why Are You Being Sued?

Urgent message: “Winning” a lawsuit in which you’re the defendant runs a distant second to avoiding lawsuits altogether—never mind if you’re on the losing end and have to pay a judgment. Understanding relevant regulations and laws is the best way to stay out of court. Today’s healthcare providers must carefully navigate their way around complex laws and regulations which regulate, restrict, and impact their practices. Urgent care providers who fail to navigate within these laws may find themselves on the wrong side of a lawsuit or regulatory action. Here areRead More
Urgent message: While unemployment insurance claims can cost an urgent care center through higher future premiums, there are multiple considerations for when a center should contest or approve an unemployment claim. Urgent care centers, as service businesses, frequently experience a high rate of turnover among their less skilled, frontline staff—eg, receptionists, clerks, and medical assistants. Whether an employee quits or is terminated for cause or performance, a common issue for urgent care center owners is determining in what circumstances an employee is entitled to unemployment compensation—and when an employer shouldRead More

Posted On March 27, 2017 By In Health Law

Who Owns Patient Medical Records?

Urgent message: While historically there has been an understanding that patients own the information contained in their medical records, and that providers own the record itself, the current lack of a federal law governing the ownership of medical records poses a conundrum when those records are stored electronically. New challenges demand innovative solutions—often in the form of new technologies that make life easier. Certainly technology has advanced healthcare to improve and lengthen our lives. Yet, perhaps more noticeable in the medical realm than in other fields, we see the clashRead More
Urgent message: Failure to identify risks in a new hire’s background can result in “negligent hiring” liability for an urgent care operator, but there are also limitations in what information a center can seek on an applicant. The approximately 7,100 urgent care centers in the United States employ physicians, NPs, PAs, RNs, medical assistants, technicians, and receptionists who provide walk-in patients with medical care for minor health conditions without an appointment. Most urgent care centers around the country are owned by physician‒entrepreneurs. While many larger corporate and hospital-affiliated urgent careRead More
Urgent message: The “in office ancillary services exception” to the Stark law enables urgent care centers to offer a range of services in-house, but complications arise when the urgent care operation consists of multiple locations. Urgent care centers are almost certainly familiar with the Stark law, a federal conflict-of-interest statute designed to help curb physician self-referral. It is a particularly exacting regulation, but there are numerous exceptions that may help healthcare providers avoid liability—the common federal exception Stark In-Office Ancillary Services Exception (IOASE) being one. This exception is designed toRead More
Urgent care in a shifting healthcare delivery environment brings to mind Shel Silverstein’s children’s classic, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. In that tale, the missing piece stands alone, waiting for someone to come along and take it somewhere. Various shapes come by, but none are quite right. Some could not roll. Some had too many missing pieces. Finally, a shape comes along that fits just right and they roll along until the missing piece begins to grow and they part ways. Then a full circle, “The Big O,”Read More
Urgent message: When health-care providers or urgent care centers respond to subpoenas for patients’ medical information, it is vital that they respond promptly, respond with exactly the information requested and nothing more, and protect patients’ privacy and confidentiality. Introduction When producing documents in response to a subpoena demanding patient medical information, a health-care provider must know the dos and don’ts to avoid privacy and confidentiality violations, sanctions, and penalties. A subpoena is a court or administrative order requiring a provider to testify and/or produce documents at a specified time andRead More