Health care law focuses on the legislative, executive, and judicial rules and regulations that govern the health care industry. The health care industry includes hospitals and hospital systems, other health care providers (such as nursing homes, psychiatric centers, acute care centers and health maintenance organizations), public and private insurers, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, and the individual practitioners who treat patients. Some of the regulations relevant to this industry include Stark, HIPAA, Anti-Kickback Statute, EMTALA and state privacy laws.
WHAT DO HEALTH CARE LAWYERS DO?
Health care lawyers often represent clients in the health care industry in connection with general corporate matters, including corporate reorganization, capital financing, employee benefits, tax, and antitrust issues and general contract negotiation. In addition, health care lawyers often provide advice regarding physician recruitment, acquisition of physician practices, and medical staff relations matters. Health care lawyers also provide guidance concerning Medicare and Medicaid fraud, abuse and payment issues, HMO and insurance regulation, telemedicine and health reform issues. Finally, health care lawyers often address risk management, informed consent, confidentiality, and bioethical issues including end of life decision-making, assisted reproduction, and health care decision-making.
Health care lawyers represent health care providers before federal and state agencies that regulate the health care industry. They also assist health care providers with various types of litigation, including medical malpractice, fraud and abuse claims, antitrust issues, breach of contract disputes, intellectual property matters, real estate issues, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement matters, and labor and employment disputes.
Many health care lawyers work for law firms that have departments that specialize in health care law. Others work for government agencies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, medical equipment corporations, or other organizations with a health care focus.
Medical malpractice and tort law
Medical care doesn’t always go as planned. When a patient believes that they may be the victim of negligence or intentional misconduct at the hand of a medical care provider, they may bring a claim for damages. Each state has their own laws or common law for medical malpractice claims. Some states have limitations that may apply like a cap on non-economic damages. Health attorneys represent clients as both plaintiffs and defendants in medical malpractice litigation.
Public health, healthcare and the law
The law has a profound impact on how health providers offer their services. Health lawyers have the opportunity to change and improve the healthcare system. Health law can be a challenging, satisfying and influential career path for attorneys choosing it as a specialty.