The Health Law Ticker

Tracking the Landscape, Law and Legislation of Healthcare

In a decision that facilitates flexible staffing practices for healthcare employers, the California Supreme Court recently held that healthcare workers can legally waive a second meal period when they work shifts longer than 12 hours. Gerard v. Orange Coast Mem’l Med. Ctr., 430 P.3d 1226 (Cal. 2018). The high court’s decision finally and conclusively resolves a contentious and technical dispute over labor enactments that had been the subject of several prior appellate rulings. See…
On September 19, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the “Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018” (SB 1448), which will require practitioners to notify their patients when they are placed on probation on or after July 1, 2019 for the following offenses: The commission of any act of sexual abuse, misconduct, or relations with a patient or client; Drug or alcohol abuse directly resulting in harm to patients or to the extent that…
There is a host of new, ever changing, and conflicting guidelines from a multitude of regulators and academic societies. This evolving and uncertain landscape is making the life of a practicing pain physician in the midst of today’s nationwide opiate epidemic…painful. Here are 10 tips to help you avoid Medical Board discipline when prescribing opiates:1 1.  Don’t Prescribe Opiates Unless… The patient has exhausted all reasonable alternatives There is medical indication – Recently documented objective…
Starting October 2, 2018, health care practitioners authorized to prescribe, order, administer, or furnish a controlled substance must query, or consult, the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database and run a Patient Activity Report (PAR) on each patient the first time the patient is prescribed, ordered, or administered a Schedule II-IV controlled substance. “First time” is defined as the initial occurrence in which a health care practitioner intends to prescribe, order, administer,…
On Friday, June 22, 2018, a Florida Appeals Court handed down its decision in Omulepu v. Department of Health Board of Medicine.  The case involved a doctor’s appeal from a decision by the Florida Department of Health, Board of Medicine to revoke a plastic surgeon’s right to practice medicine.  The main issue on appeal was the effect of the doctor’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. In criminal proceedings, a…
This is the second installment of a two-part series on the Bipartisan Budget Act. Part I discussed the Bipartisan Budget Act’s effect on Medicare Advantage health plans. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the “Act”), signed into law on February 9, 2018, contains an amendment that should cause physicians and healthcare providers to take note. Section 50404 of the Act, titled “Modernizing the Application of the Stark Rule under Medicare,” codifies recent Centers for Medicare and…
This is the first installment of a two-part series on the Bipartisan Budget Act. Part II will discuss the Bipartisan Budget Act’s effect on the federal Stark Law. Prior to adjourning for spring recess, Congress passed and the President signed into law on March 23, 2018, omnibus appropriations legislation that funds the government for the remainder of the fiscal year – through September 30. As part of the earlier negotiations to reach the budget deal, Congress…
Unfortunately, 2017 will most likely be remembered as the Year of Sexual Harassment. Notwithstanding that AB 1825 mandated harassment prevention training in California in 2004, the statute was amended to require training on bullying and abusive conduct in 2015 (AB 2053), and recently to require training in 2018 on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation (SB 396), sexual harassment continues to permeate the work place.  Given the profound impact sexual harassment has on individuals…
SynerMed, a Southern California-based physician management company, will be shutting down, per an email from its CEO earlier this month. Recently, the company had come under increasing scrutiny by health plans and California state regulators, including an investigation by the Department of Managed Health Care. According to the company-wide email, audits conducted by health plans had found “several system and control failures within medical management and other departments.” Additionally, the California Department of Managed Health…
Last Thursday, a jury in federal district court in St. Louis handed down a verdict in a False Claims Act (“FCA”) case that presents a laundry list of the challenges which can arise in a FCA case.  This one includes kickback allegations, Stark issues, both state and federal claims, individual liability, civil-criminal cooperation, a criminal indictment (later dropped), and even family law.  The defendants are neurologist, Dr. Sonjay Fonn, and his fiancee of nine years,…