There may be no more arduous professional path than obtaining your medical license and becoming a physician. Combining medical school, residency, and potentially years of fellowships before you get to see your own patients is a lot of time spent explaining the ins and outs of what you should do in each case.
It’s no easy task to take in all that information while at the same time leaving time and room to make sure to double and triple-check that no mistakes were made. While it’s impossible to go through your career as a medical professional without a single mistake, it’s equally as important to understand what to do when a mistake does happen.
In many cases, those mistakes are made right with a simple fix, but on the off chance that the fix is not quite so easy, it’s important to have someone that can provide a defense and help protect you and the license you worked all those years to receive.
Medical License Defense
The duties of a state medical board require more than simply monitoring medical licensing and registration. These boards also determine when a physician’s conduct or practice should be modified, suspended, or have their license revoked.
These boards also review and investigate complaints from patients, other medical boards, health professionals, and government agencies and organizations about physicians who may be acting unprofessionally. They then have the power to hold hearings and impose discipline, including suspension, probation or revocation of license, public reprimands, and fines.
While these disciplinary actions can be taken by a board, some problems can be chosen to be solved with additional education and training. At times, a physician’s license can be suspended while the physician receives this training.
Always seek legal advice as soon as you are aware there may be disciplinary action.
Dealing with Complaints against a Medical License
Doctors face public exposure scrutiny on some controversial issues today, which can threaten their medical licensing and livelihoods.
It is best to get representation from medical license defense attorneys as soon as a complaint or disciplinary action has begun. We do not want this action to impact your medical licensing at all, much less lead to a suspension or revocation.
Once a Complaint is lodged, then the procedure with the Medical Board begins. Arkansas law regulating a medical professional license follows administrative procedures.
Medical license defense attorneys understand administrative law and how to protect your medical license from disciplinary action. Healthcare professionals should seek legal advice from an experienced medical defense lawyer as soon as a complaint is filed. We may be able to start legal representation and stop the allegations before any disciplinary action is taken, much less your license has been suspended.
The complaints may come from patients, family members of a patient, or the Board itself. All such complaints must be dealt with immediately to protect a physician’s license. The administrative law process, board hearings, an administrative law judge, and the entire process will seem overwhelming. We are able to help.
Again, do not wait too long to seek an Arkansas medical license defense attorney once a complaint is filed and you are notified, Seeking a professional license defense attorney early in the investigation, and may help save your medical license.
Losing Your Medical License Rarely Starts with the Revocation
Rather, in most cases, the process starts with something that seems routine – an audit, perhaps, or a letter requesting some basic information. Sometimes, they are not even investigating you, but during the course of another investigation, you get roped in. You might just be a witness in an investigation.
Alternatively, you might be facing medical license revocation because of these violations:
- Alleged ethical violations (e.g., positive drug tests, DUIs, impairment matters, failure to complete the requisite CME hours, etc.)
- Medical malpractice
- Alleged breaches of the standard of care
- Healthcare fraud charges or convictions
- Criminal convictions in matters unrelated to healthcare and your medical license
- Legal problems in other jurisdictions (e.g., reporting sister-state convictions, etc.)
- Probation violations
- Financial matters (e.g., failure to make court-ordered payments on certain debt obligations, such as student loans)
- Previous suspension of your license
- Medical disciplinary proceedings (e.g., administrative disciplinary actions)
License Suspension (Challenging the Suspension of a Medical License)
With both suspensions and revocations of a license, a challenge can be brought before the board, but acting in a timely manner is very important. There is a process that must be followed but once the allotted time has passed, there is nothing you can do. An experienced medical license defense lawyer will request a hearing to challenge your suspension and want to meet with their client to help prepare for that hearing fully, and we have helped many medical professionals keep their licenses after a suspension.
Drug Diversion Allegations
Arkansas medical licensing authorities take drug diversion allegations seriously, particularly with what has happened in recent years with opioids and pill mills.
Any physician suspected of drug diversion, especially if criminal charges are filed, is subject to having their license in immediate jeopardy, even if the allegations are false.
Examples of a drug diversion include:
- Stealing prescription medications
- Writing a prescription that is not considered medically necessary
- Writing prescriptions for personal use or profit
Outside of these examples, allegations of drug diversion could come from less obvious behaviors like:
- Failure to dispose of narcotics in the methods required by law
- Accidental errors while using the Pyxis system
- Mixing up patient files
As soon as a drug diversion allegation is received, you will most likely face a drug test. A positive drug test needs to be dealt with quickly and with legal representation.
The medical license defense lawyers at wh Law provide legal services to doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers accused of drug diversion and facing potential criminal charges.
Positive Drug Test Results
A positive test result for the use of drugs – illegal or lawful but can cause impairment – can automatically impact your medical license.
A positive drug test can effect your medical license and result in being automatically reported to the state licensing board, and in many cases, would result in an immediate suspension of your medical license.
However, it is possible to be accused of improper drug use and not lose your license. Our team of attorneys have provided legal defense to many healthcare providers and have helped them keep their license despite a positive drug test result.
Even though no attorney can guarantee a particular outcome, since each case provides its own unique perspective, you should always consult an experienced attorney before voluntarily giving up your medical license, entering into any kind of impairment program, or making any agreement or confession.
The best thing you can do is consult an attorney with experience in both healthcare criminal defense AND medical license defense. At wh Law, our attorneys are well-versed in both fields, and are available to help protect healthcare providers across the state of Arkansas.
Actions the Medical Board Takes
When a board order is issued, whether for a minor infraction or a more serious incident, board action must be taken by the state board. These actions allow the board to apply a level of flexibility that is applicable to the level of response needed for the issue being addressed. Categories of board actions include:
- Administrative action: an action that does not result in the modification or termination of a physician’s license.
- Fine: In some cases, state boards may levy a monetary penalty against a physician.
- CME required: The physician is required to complete continuing medical education.
- Conditions imposed: Physicians must fulfill certain conditions to avoid further sanction by the state board.
- License denied: Physician’s application for medical licensing or renewal of a current license is denied.
- License restricted: Physician’s ability is limited to only certain specific criteria (ex: loss of ability to write prescriptions)
- License revoked: Physician is no longer able to practice medicine in their state or region.
- License surrendered: Physician voluntarily surrenders medical license, sometimes during the course of a disciplinary investigation.
- License suspended: Physician may not practice medicine for a specified period of time.
- Probation: A physician’s license is monitored by a state board for a specified period of time.
- Reprimand: The physician is issued a warning or letter of concern.
Physician’s Rights During Investigation
No matter the issue being addressed, physicians are given the right to due process while the medical board investigates any allegation of unprofessional conduct. Due process allows the physician to remain innocent until proven guilty and applies to any formal hearing and judicial procedures.
Medical boards must follow the established rules and principles to endure that a physician is not treated unfairly. In the instance that there is considered immediate harm to any patient, such as allegations of sexual misconduct or substance abuse, the board can issue an emergency medical licensing suspension until their investigation is complete.
What is the Difference Between a Board Action and Malpractice?
Board actions are issued against a physician after a formal process of a complaint, investigation, and hearing. Any action taken by a medical board indicates a violation of the Medical Practice Act has occurred.
Malpractice claims are not always an indicator of a physician’s competence or claim that there was a violation of the law and are sometimes handled by insurance companies to try and settle the cases based on terms of coverage and not on the validity of the claim issued. These settlements may happen without any physician involvement or determination of fault.
Often, medical boards will use malpractice information to help determine unprofessional conduct that violates the Medical Practice Act. Many boards have certain levels of malpractice that automatically trigger an investigation.
Medical License Defense Attorneys
You should have the freedom to continue practicing medicine while an investigation takes place, and that means hiring an experienced medical license defense attorney you can trust to defend you without having to have your help in every step of the legal process.