Dentists and Dental Practices
What are the biggest legal risks facing your dental practice? Are you at risk for being targeted in a federal healthcare billing fraud investigation? Could you face personal liability in the event of a federal investigation or dental malpractice claim? Are you making mistakes that could put your professional license at risk? These are critically important questions; yet, few dentists or other dental practitioners have a clear understanding of whether they have taken adequate measures to protect themselves against practice-threatening (and potentially life-altering) consequences.
Like all healthcare providers, dentists, dental hygienists, dental laboratories, oral surgeons, and other dental care providers face a variety of legal issues on a day-to-day basis. One of the most-important – and most-frequently overlooked – is the issue of federal program billing compliance. If your dental practice bills Medicaid, Tricare, a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) healthcare benefit program, or Medicaid under the limited circumstances in which it provides coverage for dental care, you need to be absolutely certain that your billing practices are compliant. Even unintentional coding errors can lead to allegations of “billing fraud,” and as few as a handful of billing mistakes can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in fines and other penalties.
But, billing compliance is not the only issue. From protecting your professional license to avoiding liability for illegal “kickbacks” or referral fees, there are other legal risks dentists and other dental practitioners need to address as well. At Oberheiden, P.C., our team of lawyers and compliance consultants helps dental care providers practice with confidence while avoiding the risk of costly penalties.
Meet the Team at Oberheiden, P.C.
Our firm is comprised of highly-experienced healthcare lawyers and compliance consultants. While much of our practice is devoted to federal healthcare fraud compliance and investigations, we serve dentists and dental providers in other areas as well, and we rely on our extensive federal experience to help our clients make informed decisions in all aspects of their practices. Whether you are just starting a dental practice or need help protecting your practice (and yourself) from severe administrative, civil, or criminal penalties, we can help, and we encourage you to contact us to discuss your legal needs in confidence.
The team at Oberheiden, P.C. is led by firm founder Dr. Nick Oberheiden, a federal healthcare lawyer who has extensive experience in virtually all healthcare-related legal matters. Our team also includes numerous other highly-experienced attorneys, several of whom previously served as healthcare fraud prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Our team is rounded out by non-lawyer professionals who offer expertise in the areas of federal healthcare compliance, internal auditing, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration, and federal workers’ compensation matters. Meet the team at Oberheiden, P.C.
Our Services for Dentists and Dental Practices
As licensed healthcare providers that bill the federal government, dentists and other dental practitioners face a variety of legal risks, challenges, and obligations. We seek to act as full-service outside counsel to our dental clients, providing representation in the areas of:
- Professional license defense
- Federal healthcare law and regulatory compliance
- Audit, law enforcement and litigation defense
- Business and employment matters
Professional Licensing and Disciplinary Matters
As a dentist, oral surgeon, or other dental practitioner, losing your license – even temporarily – can have devastating consequences for your practice. If you are dealing with a patient complaint or you need legal representation to protect your license to practice, our lawyers can use their extensive experience to protect you.
DEA Registration, Auditing, and Enforcement
DEA registration carries with it a variety of legal obligations. DEA registrants that prescribe opioid pain medications and other drugs are subject to periodic audits, and allegations of impropriety can trigger invasive DEA investigations. If you are preparing to apply for DEA registration, you are facing a DEA audit, or you need to defend your dental practice in a federal prescription drug crime investigation, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a confidential initial consultation.
Federal Billing and Coding Compliance
We offer comprehensive building and coding compliance services to dental practitioners of all types. Our lawyers have extensive experience with the Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and DOL billing regulations, and we can help you develop and implement a billing and coding compliance program that will allow you to bill the federal government with confidence.
Federal Healthcare Fraud Audits and Investigations
Our lawyers have experience on both sides of federal healthcare fraud audits and investigations. If you or your practice is being targeted by a “fee-for-service” audit contractor or a state or federal law enforcement agency such as the DEA, the DOJ, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), or a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), we can take immediate action to protect you.
Federal Civil and Criminal Defense
In addition to audits and investigations, our lawyers also have proven track records of success in civil and criminal enforcement matters. If you have been charged or are facing a possible federal indictment, we can identify all available defenses and build a comprehensive and cohesive strategy focused on resolving your case as quickly and favorably as possible.
Anti-Kickback Statute Compliance
Like all program-participating healthcare providers, dentists and other dental practitioners are subject to the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). Under the AKS, unless you can demonstrate that a financial relationship or transaction qualifies for “safe harbor” protection, any referral fee or other form of “remuneration” paid out of program-reimbursed funds can lead to civil or criminal culpability.
Stark Law Compliance
The Stark Law also restricts dentists, oral surgeons, and other physicians from entering into many types of financial relationships and transactions. While the Stark Law does not include provisions for criminal enforcement, providers who are accused of violating the Stark Law can still face substantial fines, program exclusion, and other penalties.
Professional Liability Insurance Claims and Litigation
In addition to representing dentists, dental practices, and other providers in federal compliance and enforcement matters, we also provide representation for professional liability insurance claims and litigation. If you are dealing with allegations of dental malpractice, we can help you fight the allegations during the insurance claims process; and, if necessary, in court.
Practice Organization and Management
The legal structure of your dental practice is important. How you manage the legal aspects of running a dental practice is important as well. We provide representation for dentists who are preparing to go into private practice as well as existing dental practices that are seeking to expand or that simply need help ensuring that they are not unnecessarily exposing themselves (and their owners) to liability.
Employment Contracts and Disputes
We also provide representation for employment-related legal matters, including contract negotiations and disputes, and employee terminations and federal employment tax audits and investigations. We represent dentists who are both employers and employees, and we are able to handle employment matters under state and federal law.
5 Key Legal Considerations for Building and Running a Successful Dental Practice
With these issues in mind, dentists, dental hygienists, oral surgeons, and other dental practitioners must keep the legal aspects of their practice in sharp focus at all times. Some of the key considerations include:
1. Custom-Tailored Legal Solutions
Your dental practice is unique, and it requires unique legal solutions. In order to avoid unnecessary risks and liabilities, you need to rely on legal advice and legal documents that are custom-tailored to your specific needs.
2. Documentation of Policies, Procedures, and Ongoing Compliance
From a federal compliance perspective, documentation is critical to avoiding costly penalties. This includes not only documentation of your practice’s policies and procedures, but documentation of your ongoing compliance efforts as well.
3. Effective Use of Contracts
When drafted appropriately, the contracts you use in your dental practice should provide adequate liability protection and legal remedies while also avoiding any Anti-Kickback Statute or Stark Law implications.
4. Proactive Response to Potential Issues
When a legal issue (or potential legal issue) arises, letting it linger is the surest way to increase your dental practice’s exposure. A prompt, proactive, and strategic response is critical to protecting your practice’s long-term stability.
5. Experienced Defense Representation
When choosing legal counsel for your dental practice, you need to choose a law firm that focuses specifically on your areas of need. The firm’s attorneys should be highly-experienced, and they should be able to take action immediately to protect you.
Schedule a Free Consultation about Your Dental Practice at Oberheiden, P.C.
For more information about our firm’s representation of dentists and dental practices, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. To speak with one of our federal healthcare lawyers in confidence, call 888-680-1745 or request an appointment online today.