Legal Category

An unknown man and woman delivered a second man with two gunshot wounds to an urgent care center in Kitsap County, WA last Friday—and then sped away, leaving law enforcement to wonder if they were simply good Samaritans, witnesses, or somehow involved in the shooting. The victim was treated in the urgent care center and then taken to a nearby hospital with non–life-threatening injuries. It remains to be seen how involved the urgent care center’s staff will be in the investigation. However, the intersection of civic duty, legal obligations, andRead More
Connecticut is the latest state to decide that healthcare providers can be sued for breaches of patient confidentiality under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The Connecticut Supreme Court set the precedent when it decided that one patient’s breach of confidentiality and negligence claims against a provider could move forward. In essence, the decision paves the way for patients to use HIPAA as a standard of care and to sue providers for unauthorized disclosure of medical records. Previously (and still, in many states), there has beenRead More

Posted On November 21, 2017By Stuart WilliamsIn Legal

Cautionary Insights into Lawsuits Against Physicians

Urgent care providers were not named among those most likely to be sued in Medscape’s recent Malpractice Report 2017, but a look at the research is likely to offer some insights that could help them lower their risk for landing in court. “Failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis” was the reason for 31% of the lawsuits against physicians in the survey—the most prevalent among all causes mentioned. “Complications from treatment/surgery” was the second-most common answer (27%). Procedural missteps were low on the list—but they were still on the list: “Poor documentation ofRead More

Posted On November 14, 2017By Stuart WilliamsIn Legal

Deal Gone Bad Forces Florida Urgent Care Center to Liquidate

An urgent care center in Florida is being forced to shut down, not because it couldn’t draw enough patients or provided bad care, but because of a highly charged disagreement over the nature of its start-up funds. Here’s what everyone agrees on: A Florida woman provided substantial funds to help a new urgent care center get going 2 years ago. After that, it gets harder to separate fact from fiction in the case of a business deal gone sour. The urgent care center owner claims the funds were a giftRead More

Posted On October 13, 2017By Stuart WilliamsIn Legal

Social Media Claims Can Be Fodder for Litigation

A brouhaha in the St. Louis area should serve as a reminder (to operators, clinicians, and staff) that posts to social media platforms are subject to the same standards of fair comment as statements made in the media or anywhere in public. Saying something perceived as inflammatory or wrongfully derogatory about a local urgent care operator on Facebook, in this case, landed the chair of a local emergency department in court. The issue arose when he made an offhand comment on his personal Facebook page that seemed to imply theRead More

Posted On September 21, 2017By Stuart WilliamsIn Legal

Customer Opinions Fall After eClinicalWorks Settlement

When EHR vendor eClinicalWorks agreed to a $155 million settlement over charges that it falsified claims for federal incentive payments, it probably thought the damage would be mainly financial. Months later, though, it’s paying a steeper price in more precious currency: customer opinions. A new report from KLAS Research reveals that 66% of eClinicalWorks customers say their opinion of the company is lower than it was when the settlement was announced in May (with 26% saying their opinion of eClinicalWorks “significantly worsened”). Perhaps even more disturbing for the company, aroundRead More

Posted On September 11, 2017By Stuart WilliamsIn Legal

Washington Suit Alleges Obstacles to ‘Charity Care’ by Hospital

Washington’s attorney general has filed suit against St. Joseph Medical Center, charging that the hospital has illegally withheld “charity care” from tens of thousands of low-income Tacoma-area residents for years. Specifically, AG Bob Ferguson says St. Joseph has erected “obstacles” that inhibit providing care to patients who may have trouble affording it. State laws in Washington require hospitals to verify the income of prospective charity patients, but allegedly St. Joseph staff were directed to ask for multiple income documents, rather than the one required by law. In addition, the suitRead More

Posted On August 22, 2017By Stuart WilliamsIn Legal

Watch Out for Shady Allergy Testing—and Billing—Schemes

Medically necessary is hard to define to universal approval, with insurers and healthcare professionals often being on opposite sides. Some shady service providers are looking for ways to exploit that divide for their own profit, sometimes leaving urgent care operators at risk for penalties, potentially. Right now, some allergy companies “offer” to help practices initiate allergy testing and immunotherapy services; the company places an employee on site to handle the allergy tests and facilitate immunotherapy—in other words, the operator is enticed by the prospect of being able to offer aRead More
A situation brewing in Nebraska should serve as a cautionary tale for ensuring patients are safe at all times—and minimizing liability risk for all urgent care operators. A physician in Lincoln, NE has been accused of carrying out unnecessary, invasive physical exams of a female recruit to the Nebraska State Patrol. A state senator there plans to submit a formal complaint to state regulators and medical associations against the provider, after a female trooper filed a lawsuit against that doctor and against the State Patrol. The prospective trooper says theRead More

Posted On August 11, 2017By Stuart WilliamsIn Legal

Wronged on Social Media? Maybe There’s Recourse

The case of Texas newlyweds whom a court ordered to pay a photographer $1 million after engaging in a social media smear campaign has gotten a lot of attention. The headlines will fade, but the decision could give all businesses—including urgent care centers—cause to take another look at their options if they feel they’ve been wrongfully defamed online. In the Texas case, a newly married couple claimed the photographer was holding their wedding album “hostage” over what they saw as a surprise $125 fee for an album cover. The photographerRead More