[ Tuesday, May 31, 2011 ]
Liability for Corporate Officers:
A couple of my partners and I spoke to one of our hospital clients recently, addressing aboug 250 staff members for a compliance primer and overview. One part of the presentation, about current enforcement activity by the OIG and Department of Justice, caught the attention of pretty much everyone in the room: the government's latest tactic of going after the corporate officers directly
. The theory is sometimes called the Responsible Corporate Officer doctrine. A corporate officer can be personally held liable for criminal activity of his company, even if he didn't know about the wrongdoing
, if he could have or should have known and failed to find out and stop it. There are several high-profile cases going on right now; even though the corporate officers may settle for a small fine, the OIG will follow up and exclude them from participating in the Medicare or Medicaid programs. This can leave people who build a multi-year career in healthcare virtually unemployable in their profession, simply because someone in their company broke the law and they failed to detect and stop it.
Obviously, there's a HIPAA connection here. We haven't seen this theory yet in any HIPAA enforcement activities, but there are criminal liabilities for HIPAA violations. That means a corporate officer could face criminal charges if his company violates HIPAA, and any guilty plea, even as part of a plea bargain, might be the end of that executive's career.
Just a little something to keep in mind.
Jeff [4:44 PM]
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