David J. Goldberg, M.D., J.D.
Dr. Goldberg is Director of Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey, Director of Mohs Surgery and laser research, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Law, Fordham Law School.
Clarifying restrictive covenants
Dr. Derm has a large dermatology practice with eight employee dermatologists. Each employee physician has signed an agreement that stipulates his/her duties, salary and benefits. Each agreement also has a restrictive covenant that states that if the employee physician chooses to leave, he/she cannot practice within 10 miles for two years after the separation from Dr. Derm’s practice.
My computer system was hacked. Now what?
Dr. Derm logged into his office computer system, only to find a ransom note from a hacker, asking for money in exchange for the safe return of his patients’ records. While this might seem farfetched, this situation happened to a small medical practice outside Chicago, Surgeons of Lake County.
Could a melanoma gene be patented?
If three groups of researchers were to discover a melanoma gene, could it be patented? If so, who could stake claim to the patent? There is precedent for this scenario with the development of testing for the BRCA breast and ovarian genes.
Physicians have legal obligation to provide safe working environments
Workplace violence not only compromises employee safety, it also has legal implications. In 1996, OSHA established federal guidelines for businesses implementing violence-prevention programs. The guidelines, although not mandatory, are often cited in workplace violence-related lawsuits.
What do courts decide when physicians' standards of care differ?
A patient has melanoma in situ removed from her face and develops sepsis. She sues her doctor, claiming he should have explained that infection could lead to sepsis and death. Was his warning about the risk of infection enough? What is he required to disclose during his informed consent with his patient?
What happens when a patient's plan no longer pays for treatment?
In an ethical attempt to limit the numbered of required patient visits, Dr. Smith often will treat 20 to 30 solar keratoses in one visit. Dr. Smith has taken courses on proper coding and codes in a recognized, honest and ethical manner. Unfortunately, several of his carriers inform him that only 15 actinic keratoses can be treated at each visit, and only four such visits are allowed during a year for each patient.
What is the correct way to terminate a patient-physician relationship?
A patient with complaints about Dr. Derm's medical assistant demanded a refund on his co-pay, then threatened to destroy the doctor's reputation online. The patient returned a week later with worsening cellulitis, Dr. Derm refused to see him. The patient later became septic and he filed a medical malpractice lawsuit. What did Dr. Derm do wrong?
Can an employee legally discuss workplace issues on the Internet?
A disgruntled employee went on Facebook and described a salary disagreement with his boss, Dr. Labor. Dr. Labor found out about this and promptly fired the employee for violating an office policy on not discussing office-related issues on social media. The now-former employee filed a lawsuit against him with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that his former boss violated his First Amendment rights.
Can the HEALTH Act of 2011 protect you from being sued?
Dermatologist Joe Psoriasis is known throughout the country as an expert in the treatment of psoriasis. An inherent risk of treating such challenging patients is the higher risk of medical malpractice lawsuits. Dr. Psoriasis has now had five such lawsuits filed against him. He is contemplating discontinuing this portion of his practice. Will the HEALTH Act of 2011 provide him with more protection from such lawsuits?
How far will feds go to punish HIPAA violators?
Dr. Skin hired several people to improve the marketing of his practice. In order to make things simple, he provided them with all of his patients' records to allow them easy access to patient demographic information. Dr. Skin is assured by colleagues that although the involved activity may represent a HIPAA violation, no penalties have been assessed to small practices such as his. Is this true?


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