As a healthcare and FDA attorney, I’ve written demand letters for my clients involving various alleged acts of wrongdoing that they had to fight against. These demand letters can be very tough on recipients, but they do serve to vindicate the difficult emotional rollercoasters that physician clients, healthcare entrepreneurs, and others have faced.
Healthcare Demand Letters
For example, recently, I drafted a demand letter regarding a pernicious situation involving a physician assistant who worked for a medical doctor.
The problem was that the PA had gotten involved not only in the role of a healthcare practitioner who is dependent on the physician’s supervisory role. Here, the PA had essentially established the business. He was a shareholder, an officer, and a director for the professional medical corporation that he had set up for the physician.
It took a lot of legal work to extricate the physician from this professional and legal relationship in which the physician assistant was tied into so many different roles.
Another demand letter I drafted involved a physician who did not receive his fair share of collections from the MD in whose practice my client worked. Eventually, this case went to arbitration and the physician client received a large six figure award.
So as an attorney I am familiar with demand letters and dispute resolution.
It was very strange to be, unexpectedly, on the other side of this dynamic. I received a demand letter, and it was for me personally. This as very unpleasant.
Most of us do not have the constitution of Jack Bauer (from 24). Bauer doesn’t sleep, he just goes and goes, and once he saves the planet from one bad guy he just goes on to beat the next.
If only we could handle stressors with his aplomb.
- A medical doctor
- A chiropractor or other healthcare professional
- An entrepreneur in the health and wellness space, or
- Anybody at all
Chances are, you’ll either receive a demand letter, or pay an attorney to write one for you, at some time in this life.
If it isn’t an attorney representing a client with a legitimate gripe, due to the breakdown of one business situation or another, it might be an attorney “troll” of one kind or another.
It is very easy for people to inadvertently run afoul of one legal tripwire or another in so many different dimensions of law these days. This is especially true given that many healthcare laws are anachronistic and outdated, in my view.
For example, we know that kickbacks are illegal. We simply don’t condone MDs receiving payments in exchange for referrals.
But how far-reaching are the rules? And are there traps for the unwary?
See our sample posts:
Kickbacks, Fee-Splitting, Corporate Practice of Medicine, Stark, MSOs: Guiding Healthcare Ventures through the Maze
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When medical doctors advertise their professional medical services (including online advertising) they can easily run afoul of legal and regulatory traps. Watch out for these 7 legal traps in […]
If you’re a successful physician, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other licensed healthcare provider, and you want to provide overflow patients to another practitioner you hire, is it a kickback […]
Substance abuse treatment centers must steer carefully when sending patients for labs. Self-referral, anti-kickback, and fee-splitting rules can create legal enforcement issues and must be […]
If you have a medi-spa where the physician is never there but serves as “Medical Director,” think again. A lot of people misunderstand the concept of “medical director.” A medical director is […]
Often, for our healthcare clients, the legal rules are often very far reaching and not easy to understand. And, since the laws and regulations were put in place, this little development has popped in to play, called the Internet.
With the Internet, medicine is moving from brick & mortar into online, mobile medicine.
Artificial intelligence has been applied in variety of ways—especially with new algorithms that help people maintain wellness and overcome disease. The technology is increasingly more and more sophisticated and so are the business models, and yet it becomes increasingly more challenging to craft a business structure and mitigate risk when applicable laws were largely created, before the Web even existed.
No one likes to be caught in the crosshairs of a legal dispute.
And, increasingly, the penalties for violations of various healthcare laws—whether these rules are obvious or obscure, always enforced or selectively enforced—are growing.
The best thing to do is to put good risk management practices in place before disputes arise.
While receiving a demand letter can feel awful, and, being the sender can create elation (or at least vindication), legal process should, ideally, create resolution to disputes, not explode them. In most situations, wise attorneys can foster settlement.
Law is a noble profession and that we can elevate the practice by focusing on helping clients realize their business and professional dreams, without falling over legal tripwires.
In my academic writing, I forwarded the idea that laws can always evolve, to accommodate upward shifts in human consciousness that reflect the ascending trend of the human spirit. In law practice, the same ideal holds: getting the parties to resolve disputes, more effectively and efficiently among themselves than they could through the courts.