Nurses Must be Careful of Privacy Violations and Social Media

Every healthcare professional is aware of the ramifications of disclosing patient information in a world where the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) imposes severe penalties for breaches of the confidentiality requirement. However, as social media becomes more integrated into the lives of professionals of all ages, nurses may begin to make mistakes.

In today’s world, over-sharing has become a fact of life. Invitations to people to be friends on Facebook or follow on Twitter may be extended to individuals who otherwise would have been professional acquaintances. This may lead nurses into a trap where the requirement to keep a patient’s private information confidential seems less rigid because the patient has shared the information with a circle of friends and followers in which the healthcare professional is included. Disclosures of information that still is confidential may lead to severe professional consequences, including the risk that a nurse’s license may be suspended or revoked.

When HIPAA first became the law in the mid ‘90s, it codified many of the confidentiality and nondisclosure laws that existed in various states, as well as healthcare facilities, addressing the privacy rights of patients. The impact was immediate and nurses faced a myriad of legal problems for violations of HIPAA, including civil lawsuits, employer sanctions, nursing board disciplinary actions, and potential criminal charges, depending on the severity of the disclosure and breach of privacy rights. Often, the negative consequences occurred when the nurse accessed or disclosed health information along with information that identified the patient. These issues were particularly problematic when the nurse was treating a celebrity patient or a co-worker where the issues of privacy were less clear.

Today, there are new pitfalls with social media. When a nurse accepts a “friend” invitation, the line between the professional relationship and the personal one becomes blurred. In addition, the use of online social networking sites may lead a nurse to share patient information in the process of developing professional ties with other nurses. However, the disclosure of the information, even without obvious patient identifiers, may lead to liability. It is important to remain aware of the nature of sharing information on the Internet, where it is widely disseminated rapidly and remains accessible indefinitely.

A nurse should be able to make use of the professional tools that are available through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as there are many opportunities to share knowledge and exchange practice tips. Often, professional organizations will make use of these websites to create interactive forums. Therefore, a nurse does not have to abstain from the use of all social media, but should post information with a clear understanding of the dangers of misusing these tools. In addition, a nurse should be very careful about entering into a quasi-social relationship with a patient by accepting a friend request or other social media invitation.

If a nurse has shared information and faces accusations of privacy violations, it is critical to contact an experienced nursing license defense attorney as soon as possible in order to create an effective plan to negotiate an early resolution to the potential disciplinary action and criminal charges.

The Sanger Law Office Provides Effective Professional License Defense

Nurses provide invaluable services to many people every day. Frequently, the behavior that opens a nurse up to liability and potential disciplinary actions is not undertaken with any malice, but merely is the result of an overly casual view of the nurse/patient relationship. If you are a nurse who finds yourself facing an investigation into your actions with regard to disclosure of patient information or other potential violations, it is important to contact the experienced nursing license defense services of the Sanger Law Office. Danielle Sanger will work with you to minimize the consequences on your career. Your first meeting will be a free and confidential consultation so that you can explore all of your actions. To schedule an appointment, please call (785) 979-4353.

Changes in the Pharmaceutical Industry Lead to New Challenges for Pharmacists

As the pharmaceutical industry changes, the laws and regulations that apply struggle to keep up with the new issues that continually arise.  One of the biggest transformations in the drug landscape is the growth of the compounding drug companies that operate across state lines and mix relatively small batches of drugs with very little regulation. This industry has played a prominent role in the mounting controversy surrounding lethal injections in death penalty cases.

An Oklahoma compounding company, sometimes referred to as a compounding pharmacy, was at the center of a recent lawsuit filed by attorneys for death row inmate Herbert L. Smulls that alleged the lethal injection drugs being stored by the Missouri Department of Corrections were expired and the Oklahoma pharmacy that provided the drugs did not possess a license to do business in Missouri.  The lawsuit requested that the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy recall the batch of pentobarbital that was sent to Missouri by an Oklahoma compounding company.  The lawsuit also alleged that the Missouri prison officials had not stored the drugs properly.

In opposition to the lawsuit, the Oklahoma pharmacy board argued that the compounding pharmacy had not violated any laws because it did not ship the drug to Missouri, but rather someone from Missouri had come to Oklahoma to pick up the drug.  Part of the counter-argument also included the assertion that it was impossible for every pharmacy obtain licensure in all fifty (50) states so common sense allowed for some latitude.  The Missouri Board of Pharmacy did not take any action on the complaint, finding that the Board did not have jurisdiction over entities that take possession of drugs from other states, only those people or entities that distribute or dispense prescriptions in Missouri.

Although this is a unique situation, it does highlight the fact that pharmacists must remain aware of what is happening across the country with regard to compounding companies and other changing rules.  Compounding companies pose a particular problem because approximately 3,000 of them operate in the United States, while only fourteen (14) have signed up voluntarily to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pursuant to the newly-enacted Drug Quality and Security Act.  The FDA has initiated a campaign recently to urge healthcare providers to demand compounding pharmacies sign up for regulation in order to improve the quality of drugs available to the public.

The Drug Quality and Security Act permits compounding pharmacies that mix sterile drugs and ship these drugs across state lines to register as with the FDA as outsourcing facilities rather than submitting to the regulation of state pharmacy boards.  Once a compounding pharmacy has registered with the FDA, it must submit to inspection of its facilities and agree to report any problems with the mixing of products.  While this does create a new burden for compounding pharmacies, it also will enhance long-term business by building a more reputable practice model.

As a pharmacist working in Missouri or Kansas, it is necessary to monitor these new regulations in order to remain in compliance with the terms of your license.  If you have learned of an investigation into your behavior that may lead to a disciplinary action, regardless of the origin of the complaint, it is critical to be proactive in protecting your license.  Skilled pharmacist license defense attorney Danielle Sanger can help you protect your livelihood.

The Sanger Law Office Offers License Defense Strategies for Pharmacists

Pharmacists face many scenarios every day that could lead to an investigation into their licenses simply because of the complex nature of filling prescriptions, including mixing drugs.  If something happens that may jeopardize your license, it is important to take immediate action to limit the consequences.  Danielle Sanger of the Sanger Law Office understands the trauma that a disciplinary action causes and she will work with you to devise a clear plan to defend your license.  To discuss your circumstances in a free and confidential initial consultation, please call the Sanger Law Office at (785) 979-4353.

Will Physicians Face Greater License Review in Kansas?

Obtaining your license as a doctor took many years and required a lot of discipline.  However, the public spotlight has focused on physician’s behaviors and demanded that these professionals be held to a higher standard.  If you have discovered an investigation into your action that may impact your professional license, it is important to contact a skilled professional license defense attorney as soon as possible.

A recent editorial in The Capital-Journal discussed the surgery of an eleven year-old girl in Texas where the procedure to correct a spinal deformity was not performed correctly and a malpractice suit was filed.  The piece discusses the transparency of a physician’s background and the requirement for the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (KSBHA) to change its protocols in responding to complaints relating to Kansas physicians.

It is a fact that there are many lawsuits filed against physicians based on alleged malpractice where the doctor ultimately is found to be blameless and the harm suffered by the patient was an unavoidable injury.  Therefore, it is important for critics to remember that physicians should not be held accountable for things that they could not control. Although there are changes to licensing requirements and obligations that may be necessary, basing these demands on the fact that malpractice cases are filed routinely without basis is not the answer.

The author of the editorial also raised the issue of a recent initiative in Kansas to require drug testing for the recipients of welfare, with the penalty of the temporary loss of benefits for those who show drug use or refuse the test.  There is a suggestion that this is something that might be appropriate for doctors.  This overly simplistic approach overlooks the careful system of rehabilitation in place for physicians who have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

When a complaint is filed, there is an investigation opened by the KSBHA. Information is gathered through a series of sources, including a review of the patient’s records, health care facility documents, personal interviews, and collection of evidence from law enforcement agencies.  However, pursuant to Kansas law, the information gathered is treated as confidential and there is a limited release of details, even to the person who filed the complaint.  Therefore, there might be a perception that the Board is not taking appropriate actions, even when it is conducting a thorough review of the facts underlying the complaint.

As a physician who has had a complaint filed against you, it is a very serious situation in which the investigation is conducted and then the matter is reviewed by a panel of peers, who will refer the matter to the KSBHA for further action if a violation is found to have occurred.  There is a comprehensive process in place that is not discussed in the editorial, but which ensures that physicians are held to the highest of standards.

The Sanger Law Office Offers Critical License Defense Strategies for Physicians

As a doctor who has spent years in school and post-doctoral residency, internships, and fellowship, you have dedicated your life to developing the skills and knowledge to provide excellent care to your patients.  A complaint or other investigation into your license threatens everything that you have worked so hard to achieve.  It is important to have a skilled professional license defense attorney working on your behalf as soon as you learn about an investigation.  Danielle Sanger and the Sanger Law Office have the expertise and resources necessary to defend your license and your livelihood.  To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation, please call (785) 979-4353.  It is important to have the right legal support as early in the process as possible.

Ten Ways to Lose your Nursing License in Kansas & Missouri

There are many different ways that your nursing license may be in jeopardy in Kansas or Missouri, some of which are fairly transparent and others that may take practitioners by surprise.  Although there are specific issues that arise under the Kansas State Board of Licensing or the Missouri State Board of Nursing, these are some behaviors that may lead to a disciplinary action:

  1. A nurse who is addicted to a prescription pain medication or other drug may be permitted to attend therapy and recovery programs while the licensing board suspends his or her license.  However, if the selected program does not have the proper accreditation, the Board may not reinstate the license, even after completion of treatment.
  2. Stealing drugs, regardless of the reason, will put your license in jeopardy and may lead to criminal charges.
  3. Assuming the identity of another licensed nurse.  Using someone else’s credentials to obtain a license will result in a permanent mark on your record.
  4. Conducting mail fraud of any type, regardless of whether it had to do with your nursing career, may provide the basis for the suspension of your license.
  5. Providing a fake license for any reason may lead to revocation of your license or the inability to ever obtain a license going forward.
  6. Demonstrating unprofessional conduct in the workplace.  This may range from using profane language in front of patients and colleagues to engaging in a sexual relationship with a supervisor in violation of the policies of the healthcare facility.  The severity of the transgression will determine whether the punishment is merely a warning up to the revocation of the license.
  7. Falsification of patients’ records.  A nurse’s license may be revoked if he or she alters or fails to record information in a patient’s record.  This type of behavior can lead to severe harm to the patient, which is the reason why the consequences are so dire.
  8. Neglecting or abusing a patient. Unfortunately, this behavior happens more than people would like to believe, harming the patient as well as his friends and family.  Therefore, it is severely punished.
  9. Violating probation from a previous offense and disciplinary action.  Failing to meet the terms of probation from a prior violation may result in the revocation of a nurse’s license.  This is done because probation is viewed as a second chance and the failure to take advantage of this opportunity may cause the relevant board to exercise its full authority in handing down punishment.
  10. Engaging in inappropriate behavior in a public or highly visible forum. Although this may be grouped with unprofessional conduct in some instances, any action on the part of a nurse that is seen to be in conflict with standards of behavior in the workplace may lead to disciplinary action.  This may include posing for naked photographs that are then published or participating in pornographic activities online.

There are many actions that may trigger a disciplinary action and have long-term consequences for a nurse’s license.  It is important to contact an experienced professional license defense attorney as soon as you learn about a possible investigation into your behavior.

The Sanger Law Office Offers a Free and Confidential Initial Consultation

Having worked so hard for your professional nursing license, it is imperative that you do everything possible to protect it if you are accused of a licensing violation or if you suspect that you may face a disciplinary action.  The experienced legal advice of Danielle Sanger at the Sanger Law Office can make the difference in your professional future.  With extensive experience as both a nursing license defense attorney as well as a prosecutor, Ms. Sanger has the skills to evaluate your case and arrive at the best possible legal solution for you.  To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation, please contact attorney Danielle Sanger now at (785) 979-4353.