Legal Brief – State Law: It’s a Case-by-Case Basis

legal implications in healthcare

With this recurring column, Elite Healthcare provides readers with insight related to the legal implications of healthcare – offering practical guidance on scenarios that should be avoidable and providing suggested courses of action when appropriate. The examples provided here are those that all providers should be aware of, but many aren’t or are negligent despite their awareness. Don’t let your practice be compromised. 

With many people today, regardless of their profession or purpose, being quick to jump online in an attempt to find relevant information through rather random internet searches, it is a good idea to remind healthcare providers that, despite their expertise, they are not attorneys and need to be very careful about the legal “consult” they seek online — especially as it pertains to state law.

Clients often visit an attorney’s office from a remote state under the impression that the “evidence” they’ve uncovered regarding a relatively similar legal matter that they are facing is comparable and pertinent to the state in which they practice. This is not the case. In order for a case to have an impact on the state in which the incident is located, the case usually must be from that state. When a client and attorney are in a federal court, the case ruling should be either in that circuit, or ideally, from the United States Supreme Court. Additionally, when a state is involved, the decision should preferably be from a higher court from that state. This gets a bit involved, but suffice it to say, that a judge’s ruling in Nebraska usually has minimal, if any, impact on a case in another state. Sometimes, the judge’s ruling on the same point is so cogent that, even from a remote state, it may have some effect on another state. The problem is that each state has its own law. And each state interprets and executes its own law. Speak to an attorney in person before fishing online.

References

  1. Enforcement Highlights. HHS. 2019. Accessed online: www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/data/enforcement-highlights/index.html

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