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A series of articles in a major New Jersey newspaper, The Bergen Record, has highlighted what they perceive as flaws and inconsistencies in regulators’ approach to allegations of sexual misconduct by doctors.

The articles describe a number of specific cases where doctors were permitted to practice, or allowed to return to practice, after allegations of sexual abuse of patients.

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A recent New York Times article shows that operating rooms are not exempt from the debate about appropriate language in the workplace.

On one level, the article illustrates yet again that conversations that would have been routinely tolerated or ignored in the past are now subject to debate, criticism and possibly consequences.

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New Jersey Nursing License Defense Attorney Gives His Opinion On How Nurses Handle CEU’s

Nurses are often asked to explain patient complaints that have been sent in by their current or former employer. The nurse is asked to provide a narrative of the events for the board so that they can make a determination as to whether any discipline is warranted.

In each and every correspondence for the board, they also ask for proof of completion of continuing education units (CEU’s) for the cycle during which the patient complaint took place.

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The New Jersey Attorney General’s office and Division of Consumer Affairs are aggressively enforcing laws relating to price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. With the support of Governor Christie, they are actively investigating complaints of price gouging and are soliciting complaints through their websites and press releases.

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The problem with online rating sites is that they are anonymous so it is difficult to target the maker of such comments. Responding to the post may only lead to a protracted exchange which only expands the scope of the review and gives the disgruntled patient platform to continue to complaint. As difficult as it can be, it is better not to respond.

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Can I Communicate By Text Message With My Patients?

While text messaging has become a common, almost universal, method of communication, the use of text messages presents legal complications that may far outweigh the ease and practicality of the medium. The use of text messages by practitioners may present a HIPAA violation if patient information is disclosed in the body of the text, even if it does not begin that way.

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The New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners moved to suspend the license of a New Jersey cardiologist, based upon his arrest in New York for the illegal sale of painkillers, as well as insurance fraud. More information can be found here.

This move is part of a continuing effort on the part of the Board to prevent the abuse of prescription painkillers, and vigorously enforce insurance fraud regulations.

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Medicare Opens New High Tech Anti-Fraud Center.

Medicare has just opened a high tech anti-fraud center, designed to allow investigators to prevent fraud in real time, before fraudulent payments are even made. It is too soon to tell whether this latest attempt to prevent health care fraud will be successful.

However, practitioners should take this as another signal that regulators at all levels continue to focus on fraud and abuse. Practitioners need to be extremely diligent in their dealings with Medicare, as the financial and professional consequences of a fraud investigation or accusation can be severe.

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When government officials are asked about how health care reform is going to be paid for, the answer in invariably that they are going to cut out fraud and abuse.

There are inspector generals, fraud prosecutors, and insurance company special investigators units, and all of them are looking to get in on the action of stopping fraud and abuse. However, that is not to say that there is not fraud and abuse.

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According to their website, “The paramount responsibility of the State Board of Medical Examiners is the protection of the public’s health, safety, and welfare. The Board meets its responsibility by licensing medical professionals, adoption regulations, determining standards of practice, investigating allegations of physician misconduct, and disciplining those who do not adhere to requirements – thereby showing the public that physicians are qualified, competent and honest. In addition to physicians, the Board is responsible for the oversight of a number of allied health providers.”

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