iStock_000039530454_LargeFor years, U.S. Department of Labor Chief Accountant Ian Dingwall has been advising employee benefit plan administrators to avoid using auditors who “dabble” in employee benefit plans. During this period, the DOL has consistently found that approximately one third of the employee benefit plan audits the agency reviews are deficient, and points to the firms that perform fewer than five of these audits as the most common offenders. Building on this public commentary, the DOL has worked vigorously to push out the dabblers, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and a growing number of state boards of accountancy are supporting this effort.

Continue Reading Don’t “Dabble” in Employee Benefit Plan Auditing

3D printing headAdvances in medical technology have made it possible to interpret x-rays from half way around the world, perform surgery through robots and diagnose dermatological conditions via Skype. Today we are on the cusp of further developments that will allow medical technicians to use 3D printers to generate medical devices, prosthetic limbs, and body parts and organs. While the technology is moving forward rapidly, the societal, ethical and legal debates are only beginning and will need to catch up quickly.

Additives manufacturing or process, a.k.a. 3D printing, provides a method for an object designed on a computer to be “printed” in plastic in a three-dimensional form. I read about this technology in a New York Times story about a new way to manufacture guns to get them past airport security. While this concept is certainly scary, there are obvious potential benefits from this technology in many fields, including the possibility of one of the greatest impacts on the medical community in history.

Continue Reading 3D Printing in Medicine – Now?

Close up of doctor writing on a medical chartIt the fast-paced world of health care, it is easy to forget the simple things – like notifying your state licensing board about address changes. It seems trivial, but there may be consequences for a physician who fails to update her physician profile.

State medical boards have the responsibility and obligation to protect consumers of health care by ensuring that all licensed physicians comply with the laws and regulations related to the practice of medicine. These boards have a process for the public to submit formal complaints, and, once a complaint is made, the board conducts an investigation that includes contacting the physician for a response. But what happens when the physician does not respond?

Continue Reading Licensing Boards Can Fine You – Even If They Can’t Find You

163170179Would an architect by any other name smell as sweet? The answer is no when it comes to authoring an affidavit of merit in New Jersey. A recent case made clear that an affidavit from a professional licensed in a different field cannot support a professional liability claim, even if they have sufficient expertise in a related or overlapping area of expertise germane to the issue presented.

The New Jersey Legislature enacted the Affidavit of Merit Statute in 1995 to quell spurious litigation against licensed professionals. While the statute may have since achieved some of the desired effect, lawyers have been fighting over the statute’s reach and application since its enactment. Though the legislature probably never intended for the statute to become a subject of protracted litigation, there is a tangled nest of appellate opinions interpreting the statute from nearly every angle. That new law continues to be made, despite the language of the statute remaining essentially unchanged, shows that the statute still – almost 20 years later – breeds litigation uncertainty in very practical and impactful ways.

Continue Reading It Takes One to Confront One in a Professional Liability Claim

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The year was 1979 when Bob Dylan’s song “Gotta Serve Somebody” was released on his album Slow Train Coming: “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

While Dylan’s theme of determining who you serve was unrelated to insurance brokers, the New York Court of Appeals recently clarified and distinguished its own 1979 opinion in Mighty Midgets v. Centennial Ins. Co., 47 N.Y.2d 12, which held that notice of a claim provided to an insurance broker could be sufficient to notify an insurer of a claim. The insured in Mighty Midgets, a non-profit youth football organization led by a young volunteer president, was told by its broker not to report the injury to the league’s liability insurer because the family of an injured minor was only looking for medical expense payments. When a lawsuit was served, the insurer denied coverage. The Court held under the circumstances that it was not “practicable” to notify the insurer until the lawsuit was served and overturned the denial of coverage for late notice.

Continue Reading Who Does an Insurance Broker Serve? Somebody!