In California, it is a significant professional achievement to be licensed to practice medicine. Those who work hard and diligently to achieve this lofty goal and strive to provide quality care to patients might not realize that their personal and professional reputation can be severely damaged simply by nature of a complaint against them. It can be intimidating and worrisome as a physician contemplates how their life and career can be affected by a complaint and possible discipline. As with any case in which a person is accused of wrongdoing, having experienced representation is crucial.
The Medical Board of California and its procedures
Licensees have certain rights during the complaint process. Medical professionals might automatically think the simple nature of a complaint will be known to the public and harm them. However, that is not the case unless they are on probation and there is a petition to revoke it is filed. The Board is not “out to get” any medical professional. Its role is to look at the allegations and determine if the complaint is within its jurisdiction based on the law.
Physicians are advised not to have preconceived notions about the complaint. They should simply comply with the Board’s requests for information and do so in a timely manner. The Board must look at every complaint to decide if it is valid. Physicians are advised to be honest with the Board. Still, they should also remember to protect themselves and having legal assistance is essential.
When the Board does determine that there was a violation of the Medical Practice Act and discipline must be meted out, the Attorney General will get involved. The physician is not without recourse. They can have an administrative hearing to dispute the accusations. There are time constraints to do this and it must be completed within 15 days of the accusation. While it is not necessary for the physician to have legal counsel, it is advisable to do so. An Administrative Law Judge oversees the hearing. Once the decision is made, it goes to Board so discipline can be administered, if warranted.
Having a strong defense can help to maintain a medical license
The punishments will depend on the charges and if the violation is severe enough, the physician’s license can be jeopardized. If there is an accusation of misconduct stemming from patient care issues, substance abuse, ethical wrongdoing, problems with fees, fraud and errors of any kind, it is vital to have a strong defense. Knowing how the Board assesses these cases is one step. Health care professionals should have qualified legal representation to combat the charges. This can help with achieving a positive outcome to keep a medical license.