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Elizabeth L.B. Greene quoted in Healthcare Risk Management "Fake Diplomas Pose Risk to Healthcare Employers"


There are many significant risks attendant to hiring healthcare workers who purport to be qualified when they are not, says Elizabeth L.B. Greene, JD, partner with Mirick O’Connell in Worcester, MA. The unethical and fraudulent behavior puts patients at risk of substandard care, potential abuse, and neglect. Unqualified clinicians also create risk through their association with other qualified providers who unknowingly rely on their unqualified colleagues.

“Patient harms by unqualified clinicians may lead to malpractice lawsuits that may impact other, qualified providers and the system that employs them both,” Greene explains. “Discovery by a patient’s attorney of the unqualified clinician will likely significantly increase the costs to resolve such a case. Such cases would be difficult to defend at trial, as there is a high risk of the jury finding against all the defendants, particularly the system that hired the unqualified clinician. Unqualified clinicians erode the public’s trust in healthcare systems.”

Other risks to a healthcare system include the healthcare fraud and abuse laws, which carry civil and criminal penalties, Greene says. The work of unqualified healthcare workers generates fraudulent billing for healthcare systems, for which the risk to the offender includes fines and jail time.

These risks also may affect the system that submits the fraudulent billings for the unqualified provider’s work. For example, the False Claims Act (FCA) and the Civil Monetary Penalties Act (CMPA) each prohibit presenting a claim to the U.S. government the claimant knew or should have known was “false, fictitious, or fraudulent,” Greene notes. Under the FCA, each fraudulent claim submitted is a violation of the law.