Should you ever sign the Settlement Agreement without first sitting down with a lawyer to discuss the ramifications? The short answer is “No, it is not a good idea.” When the SA is mailed to the doctor, his first thought will be to just sign it to get it over with, but that is a bad idea if you don’t realize what signing the SA could mean economically. Insurance programs may terminate your privileges to see covered patients if you are disciplined.
Every action by the Iowa Board of Medicine having to do with a physician is a legal matter. All legal matters dealing with a doctor’s license should be reviewed by an attorney. Doctor’s taking on legal challenges without a lawyer representing their interests is akin to a cancer patient going to Mexico for cancer treatment.
In this case the doctor signed a Settlement Agreement [SA] without the advice of a lawyer. After the SA was approve only then did the doctor realize her privileges to treat certain patients with certain health insurance policies would be affected. Only after receiving denial letters from health insurance companies did it become obvious to the doctor the extent of her mistake. When her lawyers tried to set aside the SA the Court pointed out the lateness and that her request failed to meet the appeal deadlines. This resulted in a denial and the loss of a substantial part of the doctor’s patient base. This loss of income can be considerable.
Possible Solution: Get legal advice before you react to an investigation by the Iowa Board of Medicine. If for no other reason; than to better understand the economic ramifications to your practice.