State medical boards are there to protect both the public at large and the professional reputation of physicians in general. They make certain that physicians who shouldn't be practicing have their licenses revoked. However, the medical boards can also sometimes be a little too aggressive in their approach, and a physician can end up with his or her license in jeopardy unfairly.
If you're a physician, here's what you need to keep in mind about protecting your medical license and livelihood:
1. There's a lot of scrutiny on physicians right now.
The opioid epidemic has put a lot of physicians in the crosshairs of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) -- whether the focus is warranted or not. Because of this, the state medical boards are increasingly sensitive about allegations of drug addiction, prescription violations, alcoholism, and similar issues among physicians. A study of medical board actions between 2008 and 2017 indicates that there's a rising number of license restrictions, suspensions, and surrenders.
2. You need to be on the defensive before you have a problem.
Naturally, physicians need to avoid alcohol and drug abuse if they want to retain their license. However, physicians can lose their licenses just as quickly if they're guilty of billing fraud or keep inadequate patient records. It's always important to have official policies in place that are designed to give your employees clear expectations and protect your business (and medical license) at the same time. Your hiring practices, employee contracts, and office policies all need to reflect the culture of honesty and integrity you wish to promote.
3. If you are contacted by the medical board over a complaint, know how to react.
Do not ever ignore a letter from the medical board or take a complaint lightly -- even if you feel the complaint is without merit. You've worked hard to obtain your license and build your practice, so take the smart route: engage a law firm's services to respond to the board's letter. Similarly, you don't want to turn over any records to the medical board until you have obtained legal advice. Even if you are totally innocent of the charges, you don't want to assume that your innocence will be easily acknowledged if you simply cooperate.
If you have committed an error that could put your license to practice in danger, an attorney can often help you mitigate the fallout when you appear before the medical board in your state. You never want to meet with an investigator from the medical board without legal representation to protect your interests.
While dealing with a complaint to the medical board is scary, you'll get through it best if you keep these practices in mind. Reach out to an attorney who offers law firm services to learn more.