As a medical provider, your ability to practice medicine is governed by your state board. The state board has authority to investigate and potentially revoke or suspend you license in certain situations. It is critical to engage experienced counsel to defend you in any proceeding before the medical board. You have worked extremely hard for your medical license – do not let a medical board investigation take it away.
The medical board oversees the practice of both medical doctors and osteopathic doctors. If the medical board suspects a doctor has acted inappropriately, board will send the doctor in question a complaint letter. This complaint letter outlines the reasons for the complaint being levied against the doctor. Common reasons to get a medical board complaint letter are:
A doctor fails to properly diagnosis a patient condition
A doctor has inappropriately prescribed medication
A doctor has been convicted or charged with a criminal offense
A doctor is allegedly abusing alcohol or drugs
A doctor has inappropriately prescribed or over prescribed opioid medication
A doctor has violated patient-doctor confidentiality
A doctor has conducted himself or herself inappropriately in front of a patient
A doctor has caused a patient’s death
A doctor has failed to respond to a patient in a time of emergency
A doctor is inhibited in his or her practice due to a mental impairment
A doctor is inhibited in his or her practice due to a physical impairment
A doctor has received a disciplinary notice from another state medical board
A doctor is prescribing medication to himself or herself for a therapeutic purpose
The above list is not exhaustive but represents reasons doctors have been called in front of medical boards in the past. The reason listed in the complaint letter as to why you are being called in front of the board is important in developing an appropriate defense. In your complaint letter, there will be a date by which you must respond to the allegations. If you do not respond, the medical board will continue with its investigation without the input from you or your attorney. When responding to the allegations in the complaint letter, you and your attorney must effectively address the allegations (often with supporting documentation). Sometimes, after an initial response the medical board will drop its investigation due to lack of evidence or simply because your response satisfied them regarding the initial allegations being unfounded.
If the board does not drop its investigation after your response to the complaint letter, the board will continue its investigation and ultimately hold an informal hearing with you and your attorney present. At this informal hearing, your attorney will address the allegations in the complaint letter and argue as to why these allegations should not impact your ability to continue practicing medicine. After hearing your lawyer’s arguments, the board can act in various ways. The board can mandate that you attend a license suspension hearing, an ALJ contested hearing or the board can resolve the allegations in the complaint through a remedial plan.
If the board believes your continued practicing of medicine is a threat to the public, the board can require an additional hearing to take place called a license suspension hearing. At this hearing, the board can vote to immediately suspend your ability to practice medicine. After the informal hearing, the board can also have you attend a contested hearing if it feels the allegations cannot be resolved during the informal hearing. The contested hearing is essentially a more formal process than the informal hearing. Your attorney will argue your case to the administrative law judge and the medical board attorney will argue its case. The administrative law judge’s decision will determine the resolution of the complaint allegations against you.
Often, complaints brought against you from the medical board are resolved through a remedial plan. This remedial plan details things you must do as a doctor in order to resolve the allegations against you to continue to practice medicine with your license uninhibited. The remedial plan will be specific as to the circumstances of the initial allegations brought against you. For example, if a complaint was filed against you for alleged alcohol over-consumption, your remedial plan may require you to attend alcohol abuse classed and be randomly tested for alcohol in your system. If you complete the necessary requirements as stated in your plan, you can continue to practice medicine uninhibited.
It is imperative that you do not try to handle a complaint from your medical board on your own. Your license could be at stake and it is never worth leaving the future of your ability to practice medicine to chance. Retaining an experienced attorney to help you in this process greatly increases your chances of a positive outcome. A healthcare attorney is familiar with the complexities – both procedurally and substantively of the medical board complaint process. A healthcare attorney is aware of nuances in the board complaint process that other lawyers, such as civil litigation or criminal defense specialties, are not familiar with or even aware of. A healthcare attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and most importantly – that your license is protected.
It’s important to remember that doctors, like all other people, make mistakes. Mistakes are human nature and even if you did make a mistake, that does not mean you have to submit to the medical board wanting to discipline you or take your license. You have the right to explain yourself and advocate as to why you are a respected member of both the community and medical field. Our attorneys will ensure your voice is heard and you are able to keep doing what you do best – serving your patients. Contact us today.
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