Representing Healthcare Professionals
Our president, David Hood, asked me to write introducing myself as a new member. I am honored and grateful to be included in this Association, and grateful David asked me to share a little about my practice.
I am proud to be a defense attorney, although I rarely get involved directly in civil litigation. Instead, I represent healthcare professionals in obtaining licenses, defending licensing board disciplinary investigations and charges, in hospital privilege disputes, HMO and other health insurance credentialing and de-selection, DEA registration and show cause proceedings, Medicare exclusion, NPDB reporting and disputes, and military medical credentialing. Although I primarily defend healthcare professionals, I also serve as prosecutor and hearing officer in hospital privileges cases at various hospitals throughout North Carolina.
Litigation in these fora bears a passing resemblance to litigation in court. The basic tools of proof and persuasion are similar. However, there are many differences. Mere public disclosure of the allegations can be very embarrassing, perhaps devastatingly so. There rarely is a judge, and the other side gets to pick the jury (the agency members, typically). The rules of evidence and civil procedure may not apply. Statutes of limitation nearly never stop a case against my client but are usually very strictly enforced when they cut off a defense or right to a hearing or appeal. Compulsory process is often available only to the other side. In some cases, the burden of proof is on my client to establish that he or she did not commit an offense or is of good character. The end result of the “trial” might be a recommendation rather than a binding decision, and the courts may be available only for a pure appeal rather than a new trial. This appeal, if available, typically is limited in its scope. Finally, although insurance might pay my fee, there typically is no coverage whatsoever for any other consequences of the proceeding.
Medical malpractice defense counsel and I work together on issues where there is intersection between the Medical Board and a malpractice claim. The Board reviews all malpractice claim payments, and a Medical Board investigation sometimes precedes and occasionally affects the progress of a malpractice case. Indeed, my first encounter with the Association was as a speaker at the 2010 annual meeting’s malpractice breakout session on how Medical Board and malpractice cases can affect one another.
I got my start in this area of law in 1994 when I became the first in-house chief prosecutor and general counsel to the North Carolina Medical Board, where I remained until the end of 2000. I started my solo practice in Durham, North Carolina, in January 2001.
I am a past president of the North Carolina Society of Health Care Attorneys and have served several terms on the governing councils of the Health and Administrative Law Sections of the North Carolina Bar Association. I have been included in The Best Lawyers in America® in the field of Health Care Law since 2013 and was named the Best Lawyers® 2014 Raleigh Health Care Law “Lawyer of the Year.” I have a Bachelor of Science in Physics (1982) and a Juris Doctor with Honors (1989), both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I was an officer in the United States Marine Corps, serving in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1984.
Whenever I can be of help to you or one of your clients, I would be honored for you to ask.