Surviving a Medical Board Investigation

Mark Crane


April 13, 2016

In This Article

More Fodder for the Medical Boards

Other clinicians. David Adelson recalls a doctor who employed a physician assistant (PA) to see his patients, but was rarely in the office to supervise him. That came back to haunt the doctor when the PA, who hadn't renewed his license but was still working, failed to diagnose a serious medical condition. "The doctor lost his license because he should have been supervising and should have made sure the PA was properly credentialed," Adelson says. "When other clinicians work for you, it's essential to know what they're doing."

Conflicts with colleagues. Physician demeanor has become a hot topic with boards. It's a difficult area because some of the complaints may be motivated by politics or turf battles. Ronald Chapman recalls one such encounter, in which a doctor was in the process of separating from his partners. "There was deep conflict among the doctors and nurses in the practice," he says. "One nurse said the doctor made inappropriate sexual comments to her and filed a complaint. We investigated and found the complaint was false and was prompted by the conflict.

"Some people think they can use the board to get back at someone. Luckily, the board agreed with us and cleared the doctor."

Malpractice cases. Physicians with numerous malpractice suits can expect the state board to review their cases, especially if one or more of them resulted in a large settlement. Although the board realizes that many cases are settled for economic reasons, it may still sanction a physician on the basis of its own investigation, says Adelson.

Beware of the Domino Effect

Any form of discipline on your record can create a domino effect that has an impact on which insurers you can participate with, your hospital privileges, and licensure in other states. "If you've been disciplined in one state, you must report it to all other states you're licensed in," says Adelson. "If you don't, you can lose your license in those states. One issue can destroy your livelihood. The state agency that grants you the ability to practice can take that away."

Chapman agrees, citing this memorable incident: "A physician was asked to repeat a semester in a residency program 25 years ago. He later applied for a medical license in another state. A question on the application asked if he had ever been placed on academic probation. He probably forgot about the incident and said 'no.'"

The state board investigated and denied his application, Chapman says. The doctor had to report that to all other states he was licensed in, some of which revoked his license to practice there.

Thankfully, there was a solution. "We went to the first board and convinced it to allow him to withdraw the application," Chapman recalls. "So that quashed the order of denial. Then we went to the second state and explained this. Six months later, he reapplied and was granted a license."

"It's essential that doctors tell the complete truth on any applications," he emphasizes. "The effects of a falsehood, however innocent, can reverberate."


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