Physicians work extremely hard to not only get the necessary education to practice their work, but also put in the time, money, effort, and passion that is required to build a practice and get respect in these industries. There might be nothing worse for a physician than being notified that they have allegedly acted illegally or unethically. After receiving this notice, it may feel like the world is crashing down and it is easy to start thinking about the worst case scenario like losing one’s practice and reputation. The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and take the time to respond to the notice or any requests from the Department. Learn more about what to do if you face a license issue here.
Responding to a Complaint
How a professional responds to a complaint and investigation against them can set the course of the entire process. The best way to respond to the Department is by taking the time restrictions seriously, responding to any demands, and not reaching out to the Department to try to explain away the allegations.
Unfortunately, the investigation could be the worst part of the process for a physician or psychiatrist because it can not only reveal personal information, but could also require revealing patient records. The Department can request patient records through a subpoena or without a subpoena or even the patient’s consent. HIPAA laws do not protect a patient’s medical records from a situation where the Department is investigating the doctor. This investigation can also reveal documents, videos, messages, financials, and other information about the investigated doctor or practice. The revealed information is then given to an expert in the field of practice who examines all the evidence and determines whether the Department should go forward with the allegations.
Notice of a Hearing
If the Department determines that it wants to move forward with the allegations, the doctor will receive notice and be able to request a hearing. In some situations like allegations of substance abuse or patient abuse, the doctor may face automatic suspension. An automatic suspension occurs when the Department has reason to believe that allowing the doctor to continue practicing medicine, while going through the administrative process, could put the public in danger. In some cases, the doctor may be forced to stop prescribing medications or may not be allowed to see patients in the office alone.
In addition to hearing from the Department of Public Health (DPH), the doctor may hear from the DEA, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), or the Drug Division. In cases where there is suspected misuse or abuse of prescribing medications or abusing medications, the Medical Board may take immediate action against the doctor or be told to contact the HAVEN organization. If a doctor is instructed to do something or refrain from practicing in this way, it is critical for the doctor to comply or face additional penalties or charges.
Facing allegations can be an overwhelming and scary time for a physician. If you or someone you know is facing allegations, consulting an attorney may be the best decision to prevent disciplinary action or losing one’s license. If you need to speak with an attorney about your situation, contact our office today.