A Broader Definition of “Referral” for Anti-Kickback Violations

In U.S. v. Patel, whether a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute was present depended on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit’s interpretation of the term “referring,” a term not specifically defined in the statute.  2015 WL 527549 (7th Cir. 2/10/15). The Seventh Circuit considered whether Dr. Kamal Patel had “referred” patients to a home health care provider in violation of the Anti-Kickback statute when Dr. Patel signed Form 485 certifications and recertifications for his patients, though did not recommend a specific home health care provider, in exchange for cash. Continue reading

Medical Malpractice Liability for Management Companies

When can a company that manages a hospital be liable for the medical malpractice of the institution and its physicians?  According to one recent New Mexico decision, when its agents knew of pattern of sub-standard conduct and didn’t act to address it.  The case involved one physician performing experimental surgery on over 100 patients over a period of years.  The decision allowing the claim against the manager was rendered in the hospital’s bankruptcy proceeding, which it filed in an attempt to survive the patients’ claims. Review this article on Insurance News Net for a more complete discussion.

Written by: Greg Frost

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The Intersection of HIPAA and Negligence: Pharmacist’s Violation Cost Walgreens $1.44 Million

On November 14, 2014, the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed a $1.44 million judgment against Walgreens Company based on a HIPAA violation committed by a Walgreens pharmacist. Walgreen Co. v. Hinchy, 2014 WL 6130795 at *1 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014). In Walgreen Co. v. Hinchy, Walgreens’ pharmacist Audra Withers looked up the prescription information of Walgreens’ customer Abigail Hinchy. Withers then used the prescription information of Hinchy for personal reasons, which allegedly included allowing Withers’ husband to use the private information to pressure Hinchy into not asking Withers’ husband for child support. Upon figuring out how Withers’ husband obtained the private information, Hinchy contacted Walgreens’ regional office to report the matter.

During the investigation, Withers admitted to purposely accessing the information for personal use. Walgreens confirmed to Hinchy that a HIPAA violation had occurred. Id. Per Walgreens, “Withers received a written warning and was required to retake a computer training program regarding HIPAA.” Continue reading