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Urgent Care centers provide valuable and timely medical services for people with simple injuries or illness that occurs beyond their regular doctor’s office hours. However, even high quality urgent care centers can experience legal problems due to a number of factors. Our office has the skill and experience to successfully protect urgent care staff from a variety of legal issues that can surface unexpectedly at any time.
The Stark law, or federal physician self-referral prohibition, monitors doctors’ referrals of certain Medicare or Medicaid services to providers with whom the doctor or a family member has a financial link. We advise urgent care centers about the Stark law, and also help medical providers in determining the relevance of Stark to a specific situation. We also help urgent care providers understand and comply with thee Anti-Kickback Statute prevents healthcare providers from giving or receiving payment in exchange for Medicare or Medicaid health services. Billing issues can also be evaluated to ensure state and federal compliance.
Medical licensure must be up-to-date and applicable to duties being managed by each staff member. When in doubt, urgent care managers can discuss legal concerns with our attorneys to ensure staff credentials are in order with the frequently-changing healthcare industry standards. We can help to establish or review a compliance program that ensure credentials of all staff members, including doctors, nurses, and radiologists, are in good order and in compliance with HIPAA privacy laws. Background checks and disciplinary censure that has occurred previously can be reviewed to see that staff members are in good standing to perform their duties at an urgent care center.
Patients who report controversial symptoms or who are diagnosed with uncommon issues or diseases may lead the urgent care staff or manager to request legal advice. For example, a person who has tried to commit suicide and is resuscitated by urgent care doctors may decide to sue the company for unwanted intervention. Someone who is diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted disease could become upset when the notation is made in his or her medical record and forwarded to the primary care physician. Doctors and nurses working with these and similar cases must be aware of and in compliance with governing confidentiality laws.
Patient management protocols.
Contagious patients in a waiting room may need to be isolated until their condition is brought under control by available treatment or the person is sent to another facility. How best to protect other patients and staff from exposure to a contagious illness can involve legal questions and issues. Our attorneys are experienced in these and related matters and can advise medical practitioners in best practices or in the prevailing standard of care to protect the contagious patient’s privacy while also protecting other patients and staff who may be exposed to the condition.
Bill collection procedures.
Although many medical practices work with bill collection agencies to collect unpaid debts, some seek legal counsel on the best way to solicit patients to pay their bills for treatment. We have attorneys who deal specifically with this aspect of patient care who can advise you on the appropriate steps to take in order to collect payment without inciting a patient complaint on collection procedures.
Urgent care staff who refer patients to other physicians for specialized or follow-up care may be sued for inappropriate or delayed action by disgruntled patients. Similarly, a pharmaceutical medicine mix-up could backlash to the urgent care doctor who wrote the prescription. The same is true for physical therapy liability issues. We will work with doctors to ensure that these issues are handled competently and effectively for the best possible outcomes.
Urgent care centers provide quality care at the local level for patients who need timely medical assistance. Lawyers who are trained to protect the attendant issues of this area of medical practice can help to prevent problems or alleviate issues that may arise as a result.