Brenda Strama has been practicing health care law for more than 25 years, representing hospitals, physician groups, clinical research organizations, blood banks, organ procurement organizations, and other health care entities regarding operational and regulatory issues. Her major areas of practice include medical staff issues, peer review hearings, health information confidentiality (HIPAA), credentialing and deselection, survey and certification, physician-hospital relationships, corporate practice of medicine, unauthorized practice of medicine, health care contracts, EMTALA issues, clinical research, and risk management. Brenda’s commitment to clients is to provide pragmatic legal advice and cost-effective legal services focused on innovative solutions. She recently was awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award from The Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association and Foundation.
Peer Review and Credentialing
. Effective peer review and credentialing is key to the provision of quality health care. Disciplinary actions are part of the peer review process and can lead to complex litigation and large damages if not handled properly. Well-drafted medical staff bylaws and experience in the handling of peer review hearings are critical to successful peer review.
- Representation of numerous hospitals in peer review hearings involving termination of medical staff members.
- Provided litigation support to hospitals in lawsuits brought by physicians excluded from medical staff, including Poliner v. Texas Health Systems, 537 F. 3d 368 (5th Cir. 2008, cert denied).
- Counseling numerous clients on the reporting requirements of the National Practitioner Data Bank.
- Acted as expert witness on Health Care Quality Improvement Act and National Practitioner Data Bank requirements in case brought by physician against a hospital for termination of privileges; the hospital was granted summary judgment.
- Representation of hearing committee and hearing officer in multiple peer review hearings.
- Drafting medical staff bylaws, credentialing policies and professional staff rules and regulations for numerous physician practices, managed care organizations, and HMOs.
- Drafted numerous briefs and policies on the Texas peer review privilege.
Health Information Privacy. Federal and State laws protect the confidentiality of health information through a complicated network of laws. Complying with these laws is critical to protecting both patients and health care providers.
- Created a broad-based client consortium consisting of employer-sponsored health plans, health care providers, and managed care organizations for the purpose of compliance with the security and privacy standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996; designed and maintained an Extranet devoted to HIPAA compliance documents and information.
Licensure, survey and certification. The health care industry is very heavily regulated by state health agencies, the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and accrediting agencies, such as The Joint Commission. The regulatory and accreditation framework can be difficult to navigate and can have high stakes results, including penalties, loss of license, accreditation, or Medicare certification.
- Representation of numerous hospitals, home health agencies, and nursing homes with respect to prospective termination from the Medicare program.
- Representation of major for-profit and nonprofit hospitals regarding denial of accreditation by The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
- Representation of numerous hospitals in negotiation and defense of administrative penalties imposed by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
- Representation of numerous hospitals in the defense of alleged patient-dumping (EMTALA) violations and civil money penalties assessed by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Representation of physicians and nurses with investigations by licensing boards.
- Assisted hospitals with drafting and implementing corrective action plans submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- Expert witness for a hospital regarding piercing the corporate veil issues related to the actions of a Texas Certified Nonprofit Organization (referred to as a 501(a) organization) wherein the hospital was the sole member.
- Legal counsel for the creation of an accrediting organization for cellular therapy and assisted in the development of standards and accrediting procedures.
- Served as general counsel to several hospitals and other health care entities.
- Represented national clinical cooperative group with respect to regulatory, conflict of interest, and operational issues as well as contracts with pharmaceutical companies for clinical trials.
- Represented blood banks and hospitals in transfusion-associated HIV/AIDS cases and a variety of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis issues.
- Represented an organ procurement organization from original organization to designation as an OPO by Medicare and continued representation in regulatory, litigation, and business matters.
PAST AND PRESENT ACTIVITIES AND AFFILIATIONS
- Chair: Success By Six Leadership Council, United Way Capital Area, 2010 – 2013
- Appointed: Member of Texas Attorney General’s Task Force on HIPAA Preemption
- Listed: Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in healthcare law, 2005-2007; The Best Lawyers in America in healthcare law, 2003-2007; “Texas Super Lawyers” in healthcare law, Texas Monthly, 2003-2007
- Chair: Health Law Section, Texas Bar Association, 2001- 2002
- Vice Chair: Credentialing and Peer Review Committee, American Health Lawyers Association, 1995 - 2003
- Member: Finance Subcommittee, American College of Health Care Executives; Greater Houston Society for Healthcare Risk Management; Health Law Exam Commission of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
- AIDS Coordinating Committee, American Bar Association
- Author: The AIDS Epidemic and Local Government Liability (American Bar Association); “The National Practitioner Data Bank: Has it Accomplished its Objectives?” Health Lawyers News, February 2002 (American Health Lawyers Association)
- Editor: Vinson & Elkins Healthcare Legal Update
- Planning Committee Member and Speaker: University of Texas Annual Health Law Conference
- Speaker: numerous professional development programs and seminars
- Board of Directors: University of Houston Law School Alumni; March of Dimes, Gulf Coast Chapter
- United Way Capital Area, Women’s Giving Network, 2004 – 2014
- Texas Bar Foundation
EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND
- Beatty Bangle Strama PC, 2008 – Present
- The University of Texas System Office of General Counsel 2007 -2008
- Vinson & Elkins LLP, 1984 – 2006; Partner 1992 – 2006
- Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, B.A. in government, history, and economics, 1962
- University of Houston Law Center, J.D. cum laude, 1984 (Order of the Coif)
- Admitted to practice: Texas, 1985