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4 Legal Issues That Medical Businesses Will Face

There are a lot of different challenges that you will have to face if you start a business in the healthcare industry but one thing that people often underestimate is the legal hurdles that you will need to get over. Naturally, there are a lot of laws and regulations that you need to comply with to ensure that patients are getting the best possible care and their privacy is protected properly. These laws are in place so patients can always be safe in the knowledge that they’re being seen by a licensed doctor that has the relevant training and is following the proper safety procedures. If you don’t follow the rules and regulations that are put in place, you could find yourself in some serious legal trouble and in rare cases, could even face time in prison. It’s more likely that you’ll get a fine but if you are found to be blatantly disregarding the law, it could still happen.

A lot of people have trouble dealing with these legal issues because they weren’t prepared for them when they decided to start a business in the healthcare industry. If you’re considering starting your own business in the healthcare industry, be aware that you will have to deal with these common legal issues.

Data Protection 

Data protection is important in all businesses but even more so in the healthcare industry. When you start seeing patients, you will hold a lot of personal information about them and it’s up to you to make sure that it’s protected properly. If you don’t protect that information effectively and there is a data breach, you will be in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which sets out provisions and guidelines for the protection of sensitive patient information.

In a standard business, it’s bad news if you lose the credit card details or personal information of your customers but it’s a lot worse if you misplace confidential patient records when running healthcare business so you need to make sure that you’re taking measures to protect them as much as possible.

Data storage is one of your biggest issues because you need to make sure that you’re using a trusted cloud storage system. If you just use a standard cloud storage service, it’s not likely that they will be secure enough for your purposes and they may also not have experience handling that kind of sensitive information. It’s best to find a storage service that specializes in the healthcare industry because they will understand the rules and regulations and they can offer services like HIPAA compliant appointment reminders which are great for improving the customer experience. As long as you find a trusted storage service that has experience with HIPAA regulations, you should be fine.

It’s also important that you put a lot of investment into your own online security so you are safe when you are accessing patient information on your own computers. This is why your IT team are one of the most important departments in your business. Make sure that you always keep online security software updated properly and you don’t try to cut corners to save money. You need to educate your employees on good data handling practice as well so they know that they should not take any sensitive information outside of the office or access it on their own devices because they may be vulnerable to attack.

It’s not just about online security either, in fact, laptop theft accounts for a large percentage of data loss so you need to keep the building secure as well. Keep laptops locked away in drawers if possible and always ensure that any computer is protected with a strong password. Secure the building with a burglar alarm, security lights, and strong locks. If you’re particularly worried about it, you could even consider hiring a security guard to protect the building at night as well.

Fraudulent Payment Claims 

New measures have been put in place to stop fraudulent claims for payment from patients that are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare. If a fraudulent payment is submitted, the patient will be liable but in some cases, you could be liable for it as well and you may be prosecuted under The False Claims Act.

If it is decided that you knowingly submitted a false claim or that you used false records or conspired with others to commit fraud, you will be held accountable for it and the penalties are likely to be increased in the future. In most cases, this is fine because, hopefully, you won’t be knowingly committing fraud against the federal government. However, there is one instance where people get caught out and that’s with overpayments.

If there is a mistake with the claim for any reason and you are overpaid, it is up to you to let the government know within 60 days of discovering the error. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it will go unnoticed and you can just keep the extra money because that isn’t likely to happen. You might be able to get away with it but most of the time, the mistake will be noticed and by not declaring it, you will be breaking the law.

Always make sure that you’re thorough when submitting claims for payment and be sure that you have all of the relevant documentation. Double check all payments for errors and if you do notice a mistake, declare it as soon as possible.

Medical Malpractice 

Medical malpractice is a very serious legal issue that any business in the healthcare industry faces. If a patient is injured or caused further illness as a result of your lack of care, you could find yourself in the middle of a very expensive court case or even in a criminal case in some circumstances. As long as you can prove that you followed good practice and were not negligent in any way, you should be able to win the case. Unfortunately, a lot of medical practices still find themselves involved in a medical malpractice case for a few reasons.

Firstly, you need to make sure that your hiring process is airtight. If you’re hiring people that don’t have a huge amount of experience or have been involved in these kinds of cases in the past, you’re far more likely to run into legal issues. Always ensure that you’re vetting candidates properly and always use caution. If you have any worries about a potential employee, it’s best not to hire them at all. It’s also important that you check their licenses thoroughly to ensure that they are qualified and can legally work in your area.

Technology is something else to consider. The technology in the healthcare industry is always evolving which is a good thing because it offers new ways to care for patients and increases survival rates in a lot of cases. It can also be used to remove human error from the equation and make healthcare safer for patients. However, when you introduce a new piece of technology into your practice, there is always the issue of using it correctly and safely. You’re in uncharted territory and the chance of making a mistake is higher when using a new technique that you and your employees are not well practiced at. Training is absolutely key here, so make sure that you invest in employee training when you update technology in your business. It’s also important that you follow any guidelines that the manufacturer gives you.

Drug Testing 

If you work in any area of the healthcare industry that deals with the design and manufacture of drugs, it’s vital that you follow testing procedure properly. Before anything can be given to patients, it has to go through multiple stages of testing to ensure it is safe for human consumption and it does not have any severe side effects. If you don’t follow the correct procedure for testing drugs before you put them to market, you will find yourself in a lot of legal trouble. Unfortunately, even if you do follow this procedure, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

If your drugs cause severe side effects that were not picked up during the testing phase and perhaps don’t make themselves known until patients have been using them for a while, people may still take legal action against you. This is a difficult situation because, regardless of whether you’ve followed procedure or not, there is always the chance that it could backfire on you. You should always try to be overly cautious and run as many tests as possible before launching a new product so you can be as sure as possible that the drug is safe. Still, if you are going to run a business that manufactures drugs for human consumption, you will just have to accept that lawsuits like this are a risk that you will have to deal with.

If you’re not prepared to deal with these common legal issues, you should think twice about starting a business in the healthcare industry.

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