Two years ago, Dr. Beauty hired several independent contractors on an hourly basis to improve the marketing of his practice. In order to provide them easy patient demographic accessibility, he provided them full access to his patients’ electronic medical records. One patient became aware and filed a HIPAA complaint. Dr. Beauty feels that although the involved activity may represent HIPAA violations, no penalties have been assessed to small practices such as his. Is this true?
David J. Goldberg, M.D., J.D.
In a CME session through your local dermatology society, a prominent drug company provides journal articles documenting the off-label use of one of their prescription pharmaceutical agents. You obtain CME credits, read the journal article and begin prescribing the off-label medication. Is the drug company in violation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rulings? Are your actions acceptable?
Dr. Derm logged into his office computer system, only to find a ransom note from a hacker, asking for money in exchange for the safe return of his patients’ records. Who are these hackers? How do they gain access? What should Dr. Derm do?
A doctor who prescribed oral retinoids to an acne patient is sued by the patient's family after the patient commits suicide. The doctor's career, practice, reputation and everything he holds dear are at risk simply because he tried to be a good doctor. Should he try to defend himself? Will he lose the case at trial?
Dermatologist Joe Psoriasis is known throughout the country as an expert in the treatment of psoriasis. An inherent risk of treating such challenging patients is the higher risk of medical malpractice lawsuits. Dr. Psoriasis has now had five such lawsuits filed against him. He is contemplating discontinuing this portion of his practice. Will the HEALTH Act of 2011 provide him with more protection from such lawsuits?
Dr. Skin hired several people to improve the marketing of his practice. In order to make things simple, he provided them with all of his patients' records to allow them easy access to patient demographic information. Dr. Skin is assured by colleagues that although the involved activity may represent a HIPAA violation, no penalties have been assessed to small practices such as his. Is this true?
Dr. Skin missed seeing a melanoma on his patient. It was present when he saw her two years ago; he just did not see it. The former patient sues Dr. Skin for negligence. The plaintiff's attorney offers to settle the case prior to going to court for $1 million dollars. Should Dr. Skin do so?
The estate of a deceased patient has sued Dr. Mole for not making a melanoma diagnosis earlier. The plaintiff's attorney has offered a settlement agreement for $1 million. He is concerned about the settlement being listed in the National Data Practitioner Data Bank. His attorney assures Dr. Mole that as this late point in his career this will do little to no impact on his reputation.
Dr. Cosmetic has a thriving cosmetic dermatology practice. He treats thousands of patients each year with a variety of lasers, fillers and botulinum toxins. One year ago, he treated a patient with botulinum toxin who, after paying her bill, died in his office from a heart attack. Although saddened by the death of his patient, he was somewhat comforted by the fact that his treatment had nothing to do with her untimely death.
Dr. Skin has a large, skin cancer-based practice in a large metropolitan area. Many of his patients are highly successful businessmen who travel extensively to many parts of the world for long periods of time.