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Pharmacies and dispensaries have a vital role to play in the healthcare industry. Without these businesses, patients would not be able to access medication and medical devices conveniently. The importance of dispensaries and pharmacies means that the government has to impose regulation to ensure proper and ethical delivery of services.
The various regulations that healthcare providers in San Antonio and the rest of the country have to adhere to extend to dispensaries and pharmacies as well. It can be challenging for operators of these businesses to keep up with these shifting variables in regulatory standards. You can find yourself in circumstances where the expertise of an attorney becomes necessary. Knowing some of the rules that apply to your pharmacy or dispensary can help you avoid common pitfalls. It would also be easier to recognize a situation that is out of your control.
Rules on Privacy
One type of infringement that a business owner or medical professional may be guilty of is the handling of patient information. The HIPAA law covers the protection of patients as much as it governs the quality of services. Under the law, sharing of information about a patient without direct approval is illegal.
Dispensaries and pharmacies handle a considerable amount of personal data that can be compromised accidentally or intentionally. Whatever the case, a violation of this law can lead to legal actions against an entity and individual as well. Your business may lose its license, not to mention the costs of fines and other penalties. If a patient launches a civil suit for discussing information, that could be the end of our career.
Mishandling of sensitive information can also trigger an audit, which may lead to the discovery of other violations. If you provide Medicaid and Medicare services, then that means audits from those programs as well. A lawyer who understands the provision of HIPAA can provide advice on the safest course of action when caught in contravention.
A pharmacy or dispensary has to abide by the Stark Law. Practitioners who work in these entities have to ensure that they don’t refer or get referrals from professionals who have financial stakes in the business. In such an instance, both parties would be under scrutiny for violation of the self-referral regulation. You may violate the Stark Law without meaning to because it is hard to keep track of all the relationships in your personal and professional life. However, that is not to say that the penalties would be any less or auditors would be any lenient on you. Hiring a lawyer for pharmacies and dispensaries in San Antonio can help with negotiations.
Dispensaries and pharmacies are subject to audits as much as other healthcare providers. A complaint from a patient, whistleblower from the inside, or a suspicious pattern in your coding can result in audit contractors knocking at your door. The type of audit depends on the alleged violation. If it’s billing errors, you may have to deal with the Canters for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If it’s an issue of misconduct, then a realtor board can be responsible for the investigation. Never underestimated the consequences of an audit or investigation, regardless of how baseless it may be.
The penalties will range with the violation of healthcare regulations usually carrying stiff punishments. If its fraud, you can expect fines that may run to the tune of millions based on the severity of the offense. Jail sentences are possible in a case of criminal prosecution. Medicare and Medicaid violations can exclude you from the program as in the future. Loss of a business and professionals license is another dire outcome.
Getting Legal Counsel
Legal assistance can serve you very well in these situations. Even though representation is not mandatory during audits or an investigation, being prepared helps. A lawyer can help you handle business associate agreements for your pharmacy or dispensary. You can as well get help implementing compliance protocols in your business to avoid breaking the law. Educating employees on the importance of patient confidentiality, for example, can minimize privacy issues. Don’t let an audit, investigation or even a ”casual” review of your dispensary happen without legal representations. It may be the difference between going to jail and paying a small fine.