Since the inception of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), hospitals, pharmacies, and other healthcare companies have faced several issues unique to the healthcare industries. It is extra-difficult for these companies to comply with the provisions in the TCPA while maintaining efficient and effective communications with the patients they serve. Litigation against healthcare companies has risen; frequently, such litigation involves medical debt collection, patient notifications and the sales of prescription drugs, among other issues.
Information about the TCPA
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act seeks to protect consumers from harassing phone calls and unsolicited communications. Specifically, it aims to curb the influx of robocalls hitting consumers by automated dialing systems. A robocall is an automated call that is placed using autodialing technology. This technology allows calls to be placed without human intervention. The system even generates thousands of phone numbers to place dozens of calls per minute.
In addition to banning robocalls and requiring consent, the TCPA also prohibits callers from failing to properly identify themselves over the phone, calling residential phone lines, calling those with whom they do not have an “existing business relationship,” calling consumers on the Do Not Call Registry, calling consumers who have withdrawn consent, and calling phone numbers hoping to get a hold of someone else.
Oftentimes, scammers and solicitors like banks and collection agencies use these technologies in violation of the TCPA, which forbids these calls without express written consent. For healthcare providers, it can be a delicate balance to comply with the TCPA while making sure that patients are attended to and business is taken care of.
Healthcare-Specific TCPA Issues
Healthcare companies sometimes struggle to comply with the TCPA for various reasons. A significant amount of TCPA cases that are filed against healthcare companies and their respective affiliates have stemmed from the issue of consent. Yet, the sensitivity of the data they need to communicate to patients permits healthcare companies to take measures others can’t.
“Prior express consent” is necessary for any business or telemarketing call to be legal under the TCPA. When it comes to the healthcare industry, the FCC has ruled that simply providing a phone number to the healthcare provider constitutes prior express consent for non-telemarketing calls. In addition, should a patient be incapacitated, a third party may provide prior express consent on their behalf. This consent expires when the period of incapacity terminates. The original third party who consented needs not opt out of calls and texts afterwards to stop receiving communications.
Due to the nature of the healthcare industry, the FCC has also provided a list of TCPA exemptions for calls and texts placed to patients.
Each TCPA violation could bring $500 to $1500 per call or text. If you believe you have a case, you can discuss it for FREE with Jibrael S. Hindi and his team of consumer law attorneys. You won’t pay a dime until Jibrael wins for you. Call 1-844-JIBRAEL to discuss your TCPA case in South Florida or contact us.