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Why Overlooking Website Terms of Use and Privacy Policy Pages Can Cost You

October 11th, 2019 by

By: Jacqueline Bain

Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, Website, WWWAs many healthcare businesses invest in their websites, two areas that are often added as a quick afterthought (or overlooked completely) are the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. But a potential slip up in these areas can cost you dearly.

Terms of Use

This section is a contract between you and the users of your website regarding what they can expect from the website and how they will act while on the website. You can use this section to protect you and your business from a variety of potential disasters including (but not limited to): limitless liability and intellectual property infringement.

You can use this section to limit any liability that you might create by having a website. For instance, if you give some medical advice (i.e., “Lowering your cholesterol reduces your risk for a heart attack.”), you can use your Terms and Conditions to limit a user’s reliance on that advice without additional medical intervention (“We are not your treating physician—if you have questions about your cholesterol levels, contact your physician.”).

You can also use this section to inform your users about any intellectual property protections that you might have. If your technology or services have pending or protected status, you’ll need to make your users aware of this information.

Finally, this section should establish the laws under which your website agrees to be governed. Even if the internet knows no boundaries, your website should establish its own. If your business is located in Florida, you can choose to be bound by Florida and Federal laws. It could limit any potential exposure in other states or nations.

Privacy Policy

This section is required by law to inform your website users what kind of data you will collect and how you will use it. A well-crafted Privacy Policy helps you avoid liability under a complex array of state and federal laws dealing with users’ private information.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) protects minors under the age of 13 from having personal information collected without parental consent. How can a website operator be expected to know whether a user is 13 or under? If you plan on collecting any information from your uses, your Terms and Conditions should have a section prohibiting anyone under age 13 from accessing and using your site. It’s a simple fix that can potentially save you huge penalties.

What information will you collect? Does your website use cookies? Will you share any data with outside sources? If yes, your privacy policy is where you tell that to your users!

In healthcare, a website’s Privacy Policy is hugely important. With laws like HIPAA and its state counter parts, including the Florida Information Protection Act, healthcare providers are held to a higher privacy standard than almost any other industry. Take the time to work with your legal advisors to ensure that your privacy policy is tailored to your business and contains language consistent with what you are actually doing to safeguard information.

 

Physician Engagements: Who Do I Really Work For and Does it Matter?

September 11th, 2019 by

By: Randy Goldberg, Co-Counsel

I am a successful physician who works for a thriving practice that is affiliated with a local hospital or Ambulatory Surgical Center (“ASC”).  The hospital/ASC was so impressed with my professionalism and skills that they retained me to perform certain additional duties and services for them.  Of course, they are paying me for my time and services.  This is great, I love my work, I am generating two sources of respectable income – all is good.

Not so fast!

As can sometimes be the case, all is good while there is smooth sailing and while the money is coming in.  However, once there is a bump in the road, a hiccup in a procedure, or a third party employee files a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”); the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”); Department of Labor (“DOL”) or any federal or state agency complaining about some alleged incident in their workplace. Their filing of a lawsuit can be against you individually, against your practice or against the hospital/ASC.  Not to mention, a lawsuit can be filed by a patient or third party against the practice or the hospital/ASC.  Then what? read more

Medicare Enforcement: CMS Has Expanded Its Ability to Revoke or Deny Provider Enrollment

September 10th, 2019 by

medicare enforcementBy: Karina Gonzalez

A Final Rule recently issued by CMS will require Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) providers and suppliers to disclose current and previous affiliations (direct or indirect) with a provider or supplier that: (1)  has uncollected debt; (2) has been or is excluded by the OIG (Office of Inspector General) from Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP, or (3) has had its billing privileges with either of these three programs denied or revoked. Such provider affiliations may lead to enrollment being denied if it poses a risk to fraud, waste or abuse. read more

Florida Physician Supervision for Non-Physician Providers

August 26th, 2019 by

florida physician supervisionBy: Chase Howard

In Florida, a licensed physician can provide supervision of healthcare providers that are not physicians under certain circumstances. Understanding who a physician can cover and under what circumstances can help protect your license and avoid receiving a complaint by the Florida Department of Health.

In every case, when a physician agrees to supervise another provider, Florida law requires certain documentation and notice to be filed. read more

What are the Legal Protections for an Employee Seeking Addiction Treatment?

June 10th, 2019 by

employee seeking addiction treatmentBy: Jackie Bain

Employers are approaching us in increasing numbers regarding their obligations toward employees battling substance abuse. Two federal laws primarily govern the space, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Note that state laws may be more restrictive, so we encourage our clients to reach out to local attorneys to determine if additional legal protections are available to employees in their state.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers businesses with 15 or more employees to protects workers from discrimination based on a qualifying disability or a perceived disability, which is defined to include alcoholism and illegal drug use. However, to be eligible, the ADA protects only workers who either (i) have successfully been rehabilitated and are no longer using illegal drugs or misusing alcohol; or (ii) are currently participating in a rehabilitation program and are no longer using illegal drugs or misusing alcohol. Importantly, the ADA does not protect any employee who is presently battling alcoholism and illegal drug use and is not participating in a treatment program. An employee in the throes of substance abuse who is not actively seeking treatment is not protected by the ADA. read more

Stem Cell Litigation Update: FDA Granted an Injunction

June 7th, 2019 by

stem cell litigationBy: Matt Fischer

In a decision expected to cause waves through the rapidly-expanding regenerative medicine industry, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled on June 3rd that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is entitled to an injunction in a lawsuit filed against U.S. Stem Cell Clinic, LLC (US Stem Cell) based in Sunrise, Florida.  In her decision, U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro agreed that the FDA has the authority to regulate the popular stem cell procedure known as stromal vascular fraction (SVF) – administering processed stem cells derived from adipose tissue (i.e. fat tissue) – and that US Stem Cell is not exempt from regulation.

To recap, in May 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed complaints against US Stem Cell and a California stem cell clinic seeking permanent injunctions to prevent the marketing and administration of the SVF procedures without FDA approval.  Prior to the filing of these actions, both companies received warning letters from the FDA.  The letters also addressed the results of inspections and the need to resolve significant deviations from manufacturing practice requirements.  read more

CMS’s Targeted Probe and Educate (TPE) Program: Top 5 Things to Know

May 7th, 2019 by

Targeted Probe and EducateBy: Matt Fischer

In 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) started a program that combined the process of reviewing a sample of claims with providing follow up education as a way to help reduce errors in the claim submission process.  This is called the Targeted Probe and Educate Program (TPE).  The goal of the program is to help providers and suppliers identify errors made and quickly make improvements.  CMS has acknowledged that since its inception the program needs improvements and that this type of review can be burdensome.  Most providers and suppliers never experience a TPE review; however, for the ones that receive notification, here are the top five things you should know before moving forward:

  • Who is selected?

read more

House and Senate Agree on New Florida Telehealth Bill

May 7th, 2019 by

florida telehealth lawMonday, April 29, 2019, the Florida House and Senate came to agreement on a new Telehealth bill (HB 23). If signed by Governor DeSantis, the bill will become effective July 1, 2019.

The bill creates two new statutes: Section 456.47 and Section 627.42396, and amends Section 641.31.

Telehealth Services

Section 456.47 sets forth the standards of practice for telehealth providers, authorizes the use of telehealth encounters for patient evaluations, and allows certain providers to prescribe certain controlled substances in limited circumstances. The bill also allows non-physician providers to use telehealth without being deemed to be practicing medicine without a license. Further, the bill sets forth record keeping requirements and registration for out-of-state telehealth providers. It authorizes the Department of Health to establish rules for telehealth, including exemptions from registration requirements, and to set up disciplinary action against telehealth providers that violate the law or rules. read more

Providing Medical Services in a Real Estate Wellness Utopia: Part I

April 23rd, 2019 by

real estate wellnessBy: Amanda Bhikhari

In 2018, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) released its report “Build Well to Live Well” on the global and regional wellness lifestyle real estate and communities market. The report highlighted various emerging real estate wellness living concepts that will drive future development, and create a surge in the $134 Billion dollar industry, expected through 2022, to reach $180 billion.

The lines between home, work and leisure are less defined. Your neighbor can be your patient, your coach or your nutritionist. The millennial generation and others are focused on living where their needs for healthy and long life are considered. Many people are willing to pay out of pocket for services that contribute to their health and wellness. Medical industry groups and health services will have to catalyze in order to build these wellness communities. These communities will be created by combining medical industry companies and research organizations, high quality hospitals and health services for consumers, and holistically designed wellness focused homes and neighborhoods. read more

Thinking About Selling a Medical Practice? How to Prepare your Business

April 8th, 2019 by

selling a practiceBy: Jackie Bain

Thinking about selling a medical practice? Here are some steps for preparing your business in advance of a transaction.

  1. Visit your financial planner.

Be sure that you can afford to leave the business, if you are retiring. Most times, buyers will require a comprehensive non-compete and you should be absolutely certain that you are financially prepared to retire or sell before you sign that restrictive covenant.

  1. Visit your accountant.

Get your financial history in order. Review and re-review your tax returns and profit statements for the past three years to ensure that the business is appropriately reflected in those records. Take the time to clean up any “creative” bookkeeping so that the buyer is given a complete and accurate picture of the business they are buying into. You are likely going to have to make a representation that your financial disclosures are true, so take the time to get comfortable with that representation early on. read more