Hello, and thank you for coming to Functional Lawyer. If you're here, odds are you are searching for a functional medicine lawyer to help you with your new or existing practice. First, let me say congratulations to you. You are moving healthcare in the right direction, whether you just learned about the power of functional medicine or you have been practicing long before we started using that term. You are on the forefront of a health revolution and you are starting or growing your own business.
But starting a business is sometimes a risky proposition. Did you know that according to recent surveys, nearly 70% of functional medicine providers never consult an attorney? That is astoundingly high considering the fact that their license and business are at stake. It is (almost) shocking until we start to understand why. When asked, doctors stated they were either fearful of spiraling attorneys' fees or they could not find an attorney that understood their needs.
That is why I...
I hear that question every day from practitioners around the country. As an expert in functional medicine law, I am constantly getting questions that all come down to the same thing: "Am I going to get in trouble for this?"
The best way to ensure that what you are doing is not going to come back to haunt you later is to legally cover your ass-ets. And when I say assets, I don't mean your money or your business. Why not? What else is there? Yes, your money is an asset and if you get sued, there's a good chance you will have to part with some of it. Yes, you've poured (more) money, countless hours, lots of love, and plenty of frustration into your functional medicine practice. But if you lost it, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Why not? Because you would still have your medical license.
Whether that's a license for an MD, DO, DC, RD, RN, NP, or any other license, your license is the most valuable thing you own. More than your car, your...
A strong Informed Consent process is one of the best ways to ensure that you, the practitioner, avoid malpractice lawsuits. It is not commonly seen in conventional primary care practices, but it is a critical component of a good legal (and ethical) strategy for functional medicine providers.
As the name suggests, it is a process of fully informing the patient of the proposed treatment plan or specific modality so that the patient can consent to the treatment. Functional and integrative or holistic providers, as outside of what is considered "mainstream" medicine, especially need to engage with the patient and start the informed consent discussion with every patient before starting treatment.
First, in any industry, it is good business practice to make sure your client has clear expectations of the service or product they are paying for. No business wants unhappy clients. This is doubly true when malpractice...
Physicians and practitioners who don't want to enroll in the Medicare program (or who want to get out) may “opt-out” of Medicare. This means that neither they nor the patient (Medicare calls them the "beneficiary") submits the bill to Medicare for services rendered.
Providers opt out of Medicare for a variety of reasons. Most opt out because they do not want to be subject to Medicare limits on what they can charge for their services. Others opt out because they don't want the administrative headache of keeping track of covered and non-covered services. Practically speaking, an opted-out single-provider practice is treated like a cash-based practice that operates outside of the insurance networks.
If you choose to opt-out, you must submit an affidavit to Medicare expressing your decision to opt-out of the program.
Opt out periods last for two years and generally cannot be terminated early. The...
What's the difference between an independent contractor and an employee?
Scott Rattigan discusses the differences between independent contractors and employees, why you would choose one over the other, and how to avoid paying the IRS years of back taxes.
You can download employment agreements and independent contractor agreements for your functional medicine, integrative medicine, and holistic medicine practice needs at functionallawyer.com.
Monsanto is having a rough week.
First, on Friday, a California jury ordered the chemical behemoth to pay $289 million to a school groundskeeper who got terminal cancer after using Roundup, determining that the active ingredient in the popular weed killer, glyphosate, contributed to the plaintiff's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The functional medicine community and environmentalists everywhere exalted the news as validation of what many have known or suspected about the nature of glyphosate for years.
Then, days later on Wednesday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released test results showing that glyphosate is present in 43 out of 45 cereals tested by an independent laboratory, including Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Quaker Oats, and a host of other brands with both organic and conventional ingredients.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer that is the most widely used pesticide in the United States. Its status as a carcinogen is disputed. The...
The universe works in funny ways.
Recently, two different providers asked me how to reduce their risk associated with calling themselves "Doctor" without holding degrees or licenses as a Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).
Both hold credentials that entitled them (in their states) to be called "doctor." One is a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) and one is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine (D.O.M.). And they wanted to know how to avoid confusion and make sure that the public and their patients knew they are not an MD or a DO.
I address the easy, one-step solution to make sure they follow the rules, in this week's video:
Once you’ve watched, I’d love to hear from you.
What new insights did you glean?
Do you know a provider that miiiiiiiiiiiiight need this reminder?
Send me an email or join the conversation over on our Facebook page.
Or schedule your free 20-minute strategy session to assess the legal health of your practice....
"What do I do? I have a patient threatening me with a lawsuit. Oh, and I am a sole proprietor." -- A recent questioner
While those two statements have different remedies, they are closely related for one giant reason: if that patient prevails in the lawsuit, they may seek to recover their judgment from this provider's personal assets.
Transcript of video follows:
"Hi, I have a functional medicine business and I am operating as a sole proprietor, which means I don't have an LLC or any kind of corporation or any other kind of entity. Is that okay, Scott? Can I do that?"
Hi, I'm Scott Rattigan, the founder of Functional Lawyer and today we've got a Legal Quick Hitter for you, which is where we answer the most frequently asked questions that we see at Functionallawyer.com. Now this is one that I haven't seen that frequently, but it does come up enough to make me concerned. So no person should be operating any kind of business as a sole proprietor. It's too easy to...
If you are currently "in-network" for a variety of insurance carriers and also seeing functional medicine clients through your own practice "out of network" then you don't want to miss this Legal Quick Hitter.
Communication is key! With most things in the legal and business world, you can save yourself a lot of headaches if you communicate appropriately ahead of time. This especially is true for insurance companies.
It is usually OK to see patients in your functional medicine practice as an out-of-network provider while also seeing patients in network with your current employer. However, you must notify the insurance company that you are doing so. Otherwise, a lot of red flags go up for fraud.
Luckily, it's about the communication, and you can notify the carriers in advance (or, um, now) if you intend to maintain a conventional job (accepting insurance) while your practice grows (cash only). The letter you'll need is called "Notice to Insurance Carrier".
It's a simple step...