Health Law

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

Posted On November 2, 2016 By In Health Law

Income Tax Liability from Phantom Income

Urgent message: How physician and entrepreneur investors structure their urgent care center may expose them to an income tax liability from phantom income, but there are steps they can take to ensure there are sufficient funds to cover it. Introduction Income taxes are one of life’s certainties for most working Americans. Typically, however, income taxes are paid only on cash received during the course of a year. For example, a Form W-2 received by an employee summarizes the amount of wages that were paid to that employee during the year,Read More
Urgent message: Using social media platforms helps your community get to know your urgent care center. But be sure that you protect your patients’ privacy when doing so. Introduction Social media has great utility for urgent care centers, providing invaluable opportunities to connect with the local community and offering a host of educational tools for providers and patients. The explosion of myriad social media platforms, however, has created a variety of new channels for exposure of confidential patient medical information, resulting in traps for the unwary. Predictably, the rising useRead More
Urgent message: Urgent care centers must dispose of fully depreciated office equipment such as computers, copiers, fax machines, and telephones containing protected health information in a manner that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. How this column helps you: gives you guidelines for protecting your patients’ privacy. Introduction Since 2009, 42 million patients have been affected by privacy breaches entailing their protected health information (PHI).1 Many of these breaches stem from the improper disposal of fully depreciated office equipment that may retain digital PHI in its memory.Read More