Healthcare: Successful Hospital and Physician Liens Depend on Proper Procedure
Oklahoma's hospital and physician liens can assure payment out of funds a patient receives for his injury from a third-party. The lien authorizes the "properly perfected" provider to be paid from the proceeds of a third-party claim before the injured party or a non-perfected providers are paid from the recovery fund. The recoverable amounts include all reasonable and necessary charges incurred by the injured party.
A vital component for caregivers who expect to recover from claims against third parties is ensuring that the lien is "properly perfected." Without perfection, the protection of being paid prior to distribution to the injured or other non-perfected lien holders is lost.
An enforceable hospital or physician lien depends upon the completion of multiple steps in order to be perfected. First, the hospital or physician must provide proper notice to the person, firm or corporation against whom the claim is made and to the injured person and his or her attorney. The notice must contain certain information regarding the provider and other interested parties including any insurance policies against which the lien is asserted, the name of the physician, the name of the injured person and who the lien is claimed against. Next, the lien must be properly filed on the mechanic and materialman's lien docket in the county clerk's office where the principal office of the physician is located.
Aside from properly perfecting the lien, the hospital or physician must enforce the lien within the period provided under statute. From the time the physician or hospital learns of a judgment or compromise in favor of the injured party, providers must enforce the lien within one year of the date of such knowledge. Failing to do so causes the lien to be invalid.
In order for a hospital or physician to keep its priority over other lien holders, it is imperative that the steps outlined above are followed. Such compliance could mean the difference between being paid in full and not being paid at all.