Never Face a Medical Board Investigation Alone

Batya Swift Yasgur, MA, LMSW

Disclosures

January 17, 2013

In This Article

Does It Have to Be a Lawyer?

For facing a Medical Board, a knowledgeable expert should be a lawyer, but there are exceptions. "In a court of law, legal representation must be provided by a member of the bar, but this isn't true of an administrative hearing," observes Laura Mackie, a paralegal and lay legal representative.

Mackie, who is based in Yuba City, California, works as an advocate for physicians who are being investigated by the state's Medical Board. "Costs of a lengthy investigation can become prohibitive, and many of my clients come to me because they can no longer afford an attorney. I charge approximately a third of what attorneys in my area are charging."

"You also need to find out whether your state allows representation by someone who isn't a member of the bar," Mackie says. She adds that nonlawyer advocates may be difficult to locate, but it may be worth considering in some situations if money is an issue.

Dr. Zur disagrees. "Remember that your license and entire career are at stake," he warns. "Don't be penny wise and pound foolish."

Mr. Simas adds, "Physicians cannot take shortcuts when their livelihoods are on the line."

Dr. Zur notes that it also helps to hire your own expert consultant to work with your attorney. "Make sure to get a physician who's conversant in your field's standard of care as it applies to your case," he emphasizes. "And do it right away; don't delay. The earlier the involvement, the better your chances that the case will be dismissed."

Medical Board Members Say That They're Impartial

While caution is indicated, dread and suspicion aren't warranted, according to Dr. Adams. "We're not on a witch hunt. What do we gain by penalizing our colleagues?"

Herlihy concurs. "Our board takes very seriously its task to do justice, not only for complainants, but also for licensees to have an unbiased examination of the allegation against them."

Hursh agrees that the board doesn't necessarily consist of "bad guys" who have already made up their minds. "In my experience, the board isn't out to 'get' anyone and will be fair when the physician responds appropriately. Board members are also aware of today's physician shortage and don't want to revoke anyone's license unnecessarily."

Conclusion

"If handled correctly, a Medical Board investigation doesn't have to derail your career," Hursh says. "Taking it seriously and getting good help are the best ways to ensure a positive outcome."

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