February 1, 2014 Recent Legal News



Peer Review and Employment




Tavilla v HealthSouth Valley Hosp.
Ariz Ct App

ln a med mal case the plaintiff sued the physician and the hospital.  The hospital said it was not responsible for the physician since he was an independent contractor.  The court disagreed and said it was a matter for the jury to decide.  The physician was hired as a medical director but also had a private practice.  The physician saw the private patients in a hospital and the lease stated it was for the private practice.  There were no signs stating the physician was independent so it is reasonable to think that the physician was an employee of the hospital.  

Youngs v Peacehealth
Washington Supreme Court

The state high court ruled that corporations may talk to the employed physicians that treated patients who are suing the corporation.  They may do this ex parte.    

Simpson v Roberts
  Virginia Supreme Court

The high court ruled that malpractice committed to a fetus came under the state malpractice law once the fetus was birthed and became a  patient of the physician automatically.  This gave the newborn their own right to sue but it was under the caps of the statute.  In the court trial the plaintiff was award $7 million for kidney damage and cerebral palsy after a failed amniocentesis. The defendant sued to reduce the award under the state malpractice cap.       Top


Munoz v John Peter Smith Hospital
Texas Court

In hopefully the end of the case reported  last issue, a judge has ruled that the hospital must disconnect the life support system on Mrs. Munoz and her unborn fetus.  The hospital had denied the patient's and family's wishes to disconnect her due to their reading of a Texas law.  The judge ruled that the woman was dead and she must be disconnected from the machines.  The judge did not mention the fetus.

Halbig v Sebelius

The newly packed District Court of Washington D.C. has ruled that the feds can help pay for the Obamacare premiums for those that are in the lower tax brackets in all states not just the state run exchanges.  Three similar suits are pending around the country.

Managed Pharmacy Plan v Sebelius
United States Supreme Court

The high court refused to review the 9th Circuit ruling that California's Medicaid rate reduction was allowed.  This allowed the rate to fall another 10% and delete many providers from their panels.

Physicians v North Carolina

Seven physicians have filed suit against the state and the IT vendor for negligence in their processing of Medicaid claims.  They claim practices of having to hire more front office staff to deal with the problems and with practices stopping taking new Medicaid members due to the problems.

Planned Parenthood of Missouri v Missouri
D Mo

The suit was over Missouri's putting restrictions on Obamacare's state community organizations helping sign up people.  The judge stated the state had decided to allow the feds to operate the marketplace and can not then make rules regarding the marketplace.

Little Sisters of the Poor v Sebelius
US Supreme Court

The Catholic organization won a reprieve from the Obamacare rule that they had to purchase contraceptive products for their insured.  The Supreme Court overruled the lower courts and gave them a TRO until the case can be heard by the full court.          Top

Peer Review and Employment

FTC v St. Luke's Health System
D Ida.

The court ruled the hospital system must divest the 40 physician Saltzer Medical Group that is acquired in 2012.  The hospital says it will appeal.  This case was pushed by another hospital in the area, St Alphonsus,  that would have been injured by the purchase.  

Gruessner v U of Arizona

All transplants at the University have been halted since Dr. Gruessner, the chair of the Department of Surgery has been suspended with pay and banned from the Tucson campus.  The University alleges that the physician falsified charts and the physician has sued the university claiming he was suspended for criticizing a fellow physician.  The University is attempting to hire experienced physicians to get their transplant program back up and running.  

Sanders v Christus Santa Rosa
WD Texas

The nurse complained of sexual harassment by a surgeon.  She was given the choice of transferring to another facility or staying on a different floor.  She chose the former but lost hours and resigned.  She then filed suit and in the summary judgment phase the ASC was denied the SJ.  The nurse can not get back pay since she voluntarily resigned but may get emotional distress and compensatory damages.      Top


US v Grishkoff

Margarita Grishkoff, a disbarred attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, has pled guilty of Medicare fraud.  After she was disbarred she and others used rehab clinics in Florida to defraud the government.  She could be sentenced to ten years in prison.

US v Tennessee Orthopedic Clinics & Appalachian Orthopedic Clinics

The two clinics agreed to pay a total of $1.5 million for their use of unauthorized viscosupplements.  They purchased the supplements from foreign suppliers cheaply and billed the feds for the injections.  The law did not allow the billing for the injections of these foreign made supplements. 

US v St. Joseph Health Systems

    The hospital agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle claims of submitting false billings for unnecessary cardiac procedures performed by physicians in the Cumberland Medical Group.  The group had an exclusive arrangement with the hospital for cardiac procedures.  The group is owned by cardiologists Satyabrata Chatterjee and Ashwini Anand of New London, Ky. One of the employees of the group Dr. Patel has already pled guilty to doing unnecessary procedures.  He will serve 30 months in jail. The allegation is that the hospital paid money to the clinic to induce them to send more patients to the hospital.  The cardiologists are also in a separate suit against them.  The case was a whistleblower case by three other cardiologists. 

US v 7 Oncologists

Seven Oncologists in northern Ohio were given fines for using mislabeled drugs and billing federal healthcare for them.  The drugs were imported from Canada. Top


Patients v UC Davis
To Be Filed

UC Davis reported that three of their physicians were victims of a phishing scam and had potentially compromised 1500 patients.          Top


DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.