The Stark Law is a law that prohibits physicians from referring clients to other hospitals, clinics, or physicians that they have a financial interest in. This law is a strict liability statute, meaning that the patient would not need to show that the doctor acted with intention or knowledge to hold him or her liable. Stark Law violations also sometimes turn into False Claims Act litigations.
The Stark Law was established to prevent physicians from profiting off their patient referrals. In essence, it was designed to prevent the occurrence of physician self-referrals. In the past, physicians would refer patients to services that they had financial stock in. For example, if a private practice physician also had a financial interest in a treatment clinic and, at his practice, he referred a patient to this clinic for follow-up treatment; by referring the patient to his clinic, he now increases revenue from that patient.
Self-referrals are thought to reduce the quality of care. In some instances, patients are referred to these clinics and hospitals for financial gain – not because they actually need them. Self-referral can lead to mistreatment and medical malpractice claims.
If a physician injured you because of a self-referral, the physician’s actions would fall under the strict liability statute; therefore, you do not have the same burden of proof you would have to other medical malpractice claims.
Instead, you would only need to show that the physician referred you to a practice or clinic that he or she had a financial investment in. By demonstrating that the doctor engaged in self-referral (whether the doctor intended to do so negligently or not), you may have a successful claim.
Patients have suffered significant injuries from self-referrals. Some injuries associated with self-referrals include:
If you suffered an injury due to a treating physician’s self-referral, you might be eligible for a medical malpractice claim against that doctor. You will need to speak with an attorney to assess your case and explore your options. In cases like these, criminal charges may also be pending, especially if the government finds that physician guilty of false claims.