Investigations of Unlawful Practice of Medicine
The practice of medicine is an incredibly complex field and is inundated with statutes, rules, and regulations. If you have found yourself being charged with a crime relating to aiding unlawful practices in medicine, our firm can help you defend your case. We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who know of the rules and regulations surrounding the practice of medicine, and they want to help you with your case.
Aiding in the unlawful practices of medicine can affect many individuals. Physicians, medical staff, administrators, pharmacists, pharmacies, drug distributors, hospitals, home health services, nursing facilities, medical students, etc. – all can be affected by individuals unlawfully practicing medicine.
If you or a loved one has been charged for aiding in the unlawful practice of medicine, please call us now. Our attorneys are experienced and can help you understand the charges being brought against you.
Healthcare is rapidly expanding. It currently employs over 18 million people, and that number is expected to grow at a rapid rate.1 In 2015, there were 1.1 million licensed physicians in the US.2
The needs for healthcare has increased exponentially over the last decade.3 Newly created agencies and a host of new regulations try to ensure patients receive the best medical care. Though many have strained under the burden of these regulations.4 Unfortunately, there has been an increase in illegal activity in the healthcare field.5
Due to the increased level of illegal activity and billions of dollars lost every year, the federal government created the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. They have been investigating and stopping a slew of illegal activity associated with healthcare.6 State medical licensing agencies, and other healthcare regulatory agencies have also increased their investigations into illegal activities.7 While many regulations may seem burdensome, most are meant to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
Unlawful practices in medicine and assisting with these unlawful practices are serious offenses. Violations of state and federal regulations can result in civil penalties such as exorbitant fines, suspensions, loss of licenses, and payment for restitution. Many violations are criminal and depending on the violation; an individual may face lengthy incarceration.
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What is aiding in the unlawful practice of medicine?
Aiding in the unlawful practice of medicine is where an individual or group assists another in the practice of medicine that is not approved, violates statutes or regulations, or the individual is unlicensed to practice medicine. Federal and states regulate this type of activity and include several civil and criminal penalties. Some penalties can be quite severe.
Sometimes an individual will be notified that their conduct violates the law before additional steps are taken against that individual. However, that is not always the case. If you suspect that unlawful practices of medicine are happening, please contact us.
Here are some ways that you will be considered aiding in the unlawful practice of medicine.
– Knowingly delegating tasks to unlicensed individuals.
– Employing unlicensed individuals
– Performing tasks without proper supervision from a licensed physician
– Allowing another to use your credentials
– Allowing another to bill insurance under your name
– Assisting a physician in suspicious practices such as excessive opioid prescriptions
– Allowing medical students to examine patients when not properly designated to do so
– Not supervising individuals that require your supervision
– Failing to ensure that all individuals are licensed and remain licensed
– Failing to report that another has falsified patient records
– Assisting another in a practice that is not approved or is unreasonable
– Failing to report kickback or other fraudulent schemes
– Dispensing medications from unlicensed physicians
– A private organization that hires a licensed physician to care for its employees without authorization
– Laundering money to individuals who have operated under your name
If you feel that you may be involved in unlawful practices of medicine or have concerns, call our firm today. Our team of dedicated attorneys can assist with all your questions and help you understand what issues you may face.
Who can be held liable for aiding in the unlawful practice of medicine?
Anyone involved with the unlawful practice of medicine can be held liable for aiding in the unlawful practice of medicine.
For example, a doctor in California allowed unlicensed individuals to practice in his clinic and was found to be in violation of the law.8
State and federal laws require individuals practicing medicine to be licensed. There also federal requirements that heads of clinics ensure that all individuals are appropriately licensed if their position requires it.9 If you employ a licensed physician, and their license laps without any action from you, you are in violation of the law and can be subject to substantial penalties.
There are a few areas of the law that you should know if you choose to practice in healthcare.
What are the state regulations aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine?
Many state medical boards and other agencies have regulated against individuals who knowingly assist individuals in their practice of medicine without a license. This is a narrower focus than aiding the unlawful practice of medicine.
This often occurs when tasks that are meant to be carried out by licensed individuals are given to individuals without a license. However, there are many various ways that an individual may violate this regulation.
Some states carry civil penalties for violations, others are criminal, and others are both. Some even have increased penalties for repeat violations or the severity of the offense. The states’ regulations are incredibly diverse. If you have questions about your specific state’s regulations, call us today for a legal consultation.
Violations of aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine can include both civil and criminal penalties, depending on the state. An individual may face substantial fines, suspensions, loss of licenses, sanctions, and incarceration.
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What are the federal laws that prohibit aiding the unlawful practice of medicine?
No federal statute prohibits aiding the unlawful practice of medicine. However, there are a few federal laws that target this activity. For example, federal law requires individuals practicing medicine to be licensed and requires their employers to ensure that licenses are up-to-date. Violations of this law can include severe penalties.10 Also, federal law requires physicians to be licensed to bill Medicare and Medicaid.
Aiding the unlawful practice of medicine can also be in violation of the Healthcare Fraud Statute, the False Claims Act, the Wire Fraud Statute, the Controlled Substances Act, and even the Money Laundering Control Act. All these statutes contain a conspiracy provision which means that you do not have to be the one to commit the unlawful practice to violate the law. If you aid another individual in their unlawful practice of medicine, you may also be charged with violations of these laws. Some of these laws are discussed in more detail below.
What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act (FCA) seeks to prohibit individuals or organizations from sending false or misleading information with the purpose of defrauding a government program.
The law requires that individuals act with knowledge that what they are submitting is false, inaccurate or misleading. However, if an individual has a reckless disregard for the truth, they may be considered to have acted as knowing that the information was false.
This often will be violated when an individual will allow another to use their credentials to submit claims to Medicare and Medicaid for payment.
For example, a physician has their license suspended or revoked. They can no longer submit claims to Medicare or Medicaid since licensure is required for submitted claims. A licensed physician may loan their credentials to the unlicensed physician so that they may continue working and receive payment from the federal programs.
The patient records and medical history may be entirely accurate, and the medical treatment is legitimate. However, this still violates this act and other federal laws, since the physician is submitting under another’s credentials to defraud the government and you can be facing severe penalties.
As the person who gave their credentials to the physicians who made the false claims, you will be considered to have conspired to submit false claims. As such, we strongly recommend that you always keep your credentials private.
Violations of the FCA have a penalty of up to 10,000 dollars, three times the value of the cost incurred due to the false claim, and any costs of a civil action brought against the individual. Also, an individual may be in violation of the healthcare fraud statute which carries higher fines and criminal penalties.11
What is the healthcare fraud statute?
The Healthcare fraud statute is like the FCA. It seeks to prohibit any individual or organization from defrauding a federal health benefits program. However, the FCA carries civil penalties, while the healthcare fraud statute carries criminal penalties.
Also, the healthcare fraud statute is narrower than the FCA. Healthcare fraud statute specifically targets activities intended to defraud a healthcare benefit program.
Our example of the physician loaning their credentials to another would not only violate the FCA but would also be in violation of the healthcare fraud statute. Even though the physician simply loaned their credentials to be helpful to another physician, now can face conspiracy charges from both the FCA and healthcare fraud statutes.
Violations of the Healthcare Fraud Statute has a fine of up to 250,000 dollars, up to ten years imprisonment, possible exclusion from federal healthcare benefit programs, and loss of licenses. If a patient is seriously injured or dies as a result of such fraudulent practices, the individual could be imprisoned for life.12
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Reports of aiding the unlawful practice of medicine in the news.
Four individuals from Georgia charged with the unlawful prescription of controlled substances.
Charge: Conspiracy to dispense and distribute controlled substances, maintaining drug-involved premises, conspiracy to launder money, and death or serious bodily injury resulting from unlawful dispensing of controlled substances.
Allegation: A doctor and other staff distributed controlled substances, including opioids, for no legitimate medical purpose.
In 2018, a clinic in Georgia, distributed controlled substances to individuals that did not have a legitimate medical purpose. In some instances, this unlawful distribution resulted in death or serious bodily injury.
According to the DOJ press release, Dr. Thomas H. Sachy, prescribed and dispensed controlled substances to various individuals that were outside standard professional practice and did not have a legitimate medical purpose. Dispensation of these drugs resulted in death or serious bodily injury on at least two occasions.
Three other staff members were also charged with similar crimes for aiding with the dispensation of the controlled substances, including operating drug-involved premises.
Each person may receive 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine or both for each count. Dr. Sachy is facing a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for his involvement.
To read this release in its entirety, click here, or copy and paste the link below.
Pharmacist technician pleads guilty to working at a compound facility without a license.
Charge: Mail fraud
Allegation: Pharmacist technician worked at a compound facility without a license.
In 2018, a pharmacist technician pled guilty to mail fraud for working at a compound facility without a license.
According to the DOJ press release, Scott M. Connolly pled guilty to 10 counts of mail fraud. He was working at New England Compound Center without a license. His supervisors were aware that Connolly was not licensed. One supervisor, Barry Cadden, allowed his credentials to be used in the manufacturing of certain drugs to avoid Connolly’s name to be on the records. Connolly was involved in the making of heart-stopping medications, necessary for certain surgeries. He was listed as a warehouse employee.
Barry Cadden was convicted of several federal crimes including federal racketeering for his involvement with aiding and abetting Connolly in his work at the facility among other things.
Thirteen other individuals were also indicted with Connolly for their actions at the compound facility. It was the result of a federal probe after there was an outbreak of fungal meningitis that originated from the compound facility.
To read the full press release, click here, or copy and paste the link below.
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Couple charged with performing skin treatments without a medical license.
Charge: Practicing medicine without a license, aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine, and advertising to practice medicine without a license.
Allegation: A husband and wife couple performed various skin treatments while not licensed to practice medicine or perform these procedures.
In 2018, a couple in California was charged with offering and performing laser hair removal and other skin rejuvenation procedures while being unlicensed to offer or perform such treatments.
According to the California Department of Investigations release, Todd and Kathleen Bragg were charged with offering and practicing medicine without a license.
The Braggs owned a business called the “A Youthful Reflection” and offered laser hair removal along with other skin rejuvenation treatments. The Braggs did not have a medical license which was required to perform these treatments. No licensed physician was involved with the business or oversaw any of the procedures.
As a result of an undercover operation, the Braggs were subsequently arrested and charged for practicing medicine without a license, among other crimes, after the offered skin treatments to undercover agents.
The nurses that performed the operations are also under investigation for their involvement with the Braggs business.
To read the complete release, click here, or copy and paste the link below.
How can I protect myself from aiding the unlawful practice of medicine?
Call us! We can help you to know if your current actions are in violation of the law.
It may not always be obvious that your actions are in violations of local, state, and federal regulations. If activities in your workplace are suspicious, strange, or often involve secretive behavior, you may be in violation of the law. If something feels off or illegal, then we recommend that you consult with an attorney and will possibly need to notify local authorities.
Help! I have been charged with aiding the unlawful practice of medicine. What should I do?
Call us! We will provide you with an initial Confidential Consultation at no cost to you.
We are here to help. The civil and criminal penalties for aiding the unlawful practice of medicine can have a profound impact on you and your loved ones. You need an experienced attorney who will provide the proper defense that you need. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing you with the best possible outcome. We can help you understand the nature of the charges that have been brought against you and help you throughout the entire process.
Let a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney help you today!
Give us a call today for a free confidential legal consultation!