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ABFM Suspension Letter

I received yet another letter, from yet another governing body, that my status as a physician was suspended. This time it was a retroactive suspension by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM).

And once again, I was told by a governing body that they had a hard time reaching me. They made 1 attempt to deliver a certified letter to my home address which I had forwarded to a friend’s house. But with certified letters the forwarding doesn’t happen and nobody else but me can sign for them.

At no point did the ABFM attempt to email me until 2 months went by – I received an email yesterday. All they did is scan the envelope and the letters inside and emailed it to me. It’s 2018 and I wasn’t reachable by the American Board of Family Medicine. Recruiters, spamming me with jobs, no problem. ABFM and the medical board of Oregon – insurmountable problem.

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Retroactive ABFM Suspension Letter

Should I have notified the ABFM about my license suspension in Oregon? I looked through the documents I had and didn’t see anything about it. My lawyer didn’t mention anything about it either.

I would have considered notifying them if I intended to keep my board certification with the ABFM but I switched to NBPAS over a year ago.

Because I didn’t have a license in August, the ABFM decided to retroactively suspend my board certification status. This makes no sense.

The big issue I have with this retroactive suspension is that the ABFM did not have to suspend my board certification because I still had a Washington license and still had a California license.

They didn’t ask me anything about the matter. They didn’t perform their own investigation. They pretty much put in 0 fucking effort other than writing that letter.

 

Criteria for ABFM Suspension

Retroactively suspending a board certification is intended as punishment. It’s punitive and serves no purpose whatsoever. I won’t be a better doctor because of it. Patients won’t be protected from my demonic practice methods.

The ABFM decided to forward me a 7-page guideline for professionalism which I have attached below.

ABFM Bullshit Guidelines 2018-7

The irony is that everything that’s in there, deals with shit like:

  • commitment to serve others
  • fairness, courtesy, respect towards patients
  • contributing to the public good
  • accepting responsibility for one’s own action

I met all the above and then some. I helped a patient obtain an EKG which she was putting off because she was unable to obtain one. Period. Done. End of story.

The Oregon medical board investigator who was assigned to me was just a terrible human being. I wouldn’t use the phrase piece of shit because I’ve taken some very satisfying shits in my life, but man, just a common turd. I totally tried to cooperate with him and told him where the “patient” worked – all he had to do was to go to her workplace. I didn’t give her name because I was afraid I was violating that patient’s (my colleague’s) privacy.

I would have hoped that my board certification entity would have at least inquired as to why my license was suspended for 30 days and I was forced to pay a fine of $5,000 for ordering an EKG. That’s not normal.

Talk to me, ask me questions, talk to the Oregon medical board, and then finally say “Sorry Dr. Mo, we still find that your actions were wrong and warrant a board certification suspension”. At least this way I got a fair process and some explanation.

 

Appealing the Decision

You have 20 days from the receipt of the ABFM decision to appeal to the credentialing committee.

I have no intention of appealing. They can take their certificate and shove it deep and far.

My ABFM certificate is up for renewal this year. Which means that I would have to retake the family medicine boards. Since I’m already board certified with NBPAS, I have no intention of renewing my board certification with the ABFM.

Interestingly, I have heard nothing from NBPAS about this issue. We’ll see what happens. Should I notify NBPAS? What do you guys think?

 

Purpose of the ABFM

I have been excessively harsh with the ABFM, I know. But I can’t have yet another governing body trying to micromanage and punish me. Maybe if I wasn’t burnt out from medicine I wouldn’t feel this way but I don’t have that luxury.

I was fully cooperative with the Oregon medical board. I admitted to my mistakes and I never committed any fraud. I didn’t hide anything. I didn’t steal anything.

I am comfortable being punished by the Oregon medical board, even though I don’t believe a 30-day license suspension was necessary. Nevertheless, I ordered an EKG on a person who wasn’t my patient – that’s a mistake and it should be appropriately handled.

For the ABFM to jump on the bandwagon and suspend my certification makes no sense. How about the DEA and UpToDate and my medical school all take actions as well?

At some point a physician needs to have someone on their side besides their lawyer. I disagree that it’s a “privilege” to be licensed in a particular state or that it’s a privilege to be board certified by an entity.

I am confused about the purpose of the ABMS which is the parent of the ABFM. Even if their intentions are good, their actions aren’t convincing. I will go out and create my own board certification entity called Deez Nutz, if I have to. It’s great that NBPAS is a solid option but I’m won’t be bullied anymore. Not by attendings, not by residency directors, not by employers, not by licensing bodies, and not by specialty boards. I have to draw the line somewhere.

My Public Profile

I searched for my public profile on their physician directory and the ABFM doesn’t even have the competence to enter my suspension in their database.

Why go through all that work of the ABFM suspension letter if you don’t even take proper action on it?

The Punishment

The reason the medical board suspended my license was to punish me. To teach me a lesson. To marr my record so that I would have a harder time in future getting a job. If they wanted to cooperate with me they could have. I admitted to everything I did wrong and genuinely would have never done the same shit moving forward.

They didn’t do it to make me a better clinician. At no point was that their objective. It wasn’t even their suggestion for me to take a professionalism course for physicians – that was my lawyer’s idea. They claim it was to protect the public.

Remember that I was pulled off of all my shifts at Kaiser Permanente when this happened. And once the dust settled on all this, every single telemedicine company terminated me off of their platforms.

Imagine I had partner and kids to support financially. Imagine I still had student loan debts. Imagine I was financially supporting my parents. Or, shit, imagine I emotionally identified with being a physician.

Instead I had been preparing for such an event for a while:

  • all debt paid off ✔️
  • minimal lifestyle expenses ✔️
  • multiple sources of income ✔️
  • disidentification with being a doctor ✔️
  • strong investment portfolio for passive income ✔️
  • various marketable skills ✔️

14 replies on “ABFM Suspension Letter”

Shaking my head at this continuing ordeal you go through.
I am glad that you have structured your financial life before this to continue without much detriment. I would say most doctors not well on the FIRE path already would not have been able to withstand the impact that you have had.

The way you are being treated is as if you willfully brought harm/death to a patient. As I have mentioned before I have heard of cases where substance abuse was involved and it looked like nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Thanks for continuing to share this story. Just reaffirms my view that no one really looks out for us. We pay a lot of dues for medical societies, American boards etc and they are happy to take your money but sell you out at first chance when you become an inconvenience

Thank you for your support.
I can vote with my money and my presence. I vote to not pay the ABMS and I vote to practice in the telesphere because the physical clinic is dangerous to the health of my career.
I have high hopes for NBPAS but I’m not married to them. They seem to have the physician’s interest in mind so that’s a start.

This whole horrible experience you have been through is so unbelievable. That you would have to go through all this stress and administrative nightmare for ordering an EKG is unreal. Thank goodness you had reached FIRE and can financially deal with all this. I have no idea what the average Doctor does if they run into a situation like this. Most doctors are mired in student loan debt and have a morgage and children in private school. What do they do? Scary situation to be in. My heart goes out to you.

Very sad to see the continued pounding you’re receiving alongside dragging your professional name in the mud. Your situation is an eye opener and I’m glad you’re being open about it for other physicians to take heed.

The bureaucracy is a soulless, mindless machine that’s simply executing out an algorithm against you. It’s a good thing you’re essentially FI’d.

This is so crappy. It never seems to end for you. Sorry to hear. Sad to know that this started out from a simple EKG and a bad nurse.

SILENT NO MORE! To all the docs out there who’ve been suppressed, shut down, suspended, or reprimanded by state boards or ABFM…this post is for you. Most, I presume, have been obliterated (financially, emotionally etc) by such a decision. Some even suicidal. My heart goes out to those who’ve suffered by an abusive system that goes unchecked by the public or our nation of laws. To every young doctor out there reading Dr Mo’s story of this nightmare, this information is invaluable. To those of us that know Dr Mo personally, we stand in solidarity with him.

Muchas gracias senior. Dunno what else to say. Feels good having options. Still a miserable experience because it was meant to be punitive instead of instructional. I won’t get into a similar situation ever again but after this experience I’ve learned that there are a whole lotta other situations which I could get into without knowing about them.
You can certainly spend your way out of these problems – get a lawyer – get 2 lawyers and just go toe to toe. But the boards want that. They don’t wanna deal with the individual doctor. They want you to spend all your resources not to make you go broke but to instill fear.
For everyone who has spent over $100k on fighting these boards, I’m sorry.

Ha! Awesome, that’s the kind of language I welcome and encourage on UCC – cheers.
For those who fear losing their ABMS certification, look at the many physicians who have done so successfully. We’re all still earning money, we can all still practice medicine, and we can burn out as easily as the other docs.

I agree with OutRun “The bureaucracy is a soulless, mindless machine that’s simply executing out an algorithm against you.” What a sack of s*#$. Nauseating to hear this kind of treatment doctors receive for minor stuff. I had my own run-in with the Texas Medical Board because a pharmacist questioned whether telemedicine was legit. This cost me wasted time over two years and money. They dragged it out and only let it go after Teladoc handed their butts to them in the courtroom and caused them to change the state regulations on telemedicine. It has nothing to do with protecting the public or doctors, just pure power plays. Plain and simple.

That must have been a terrible experience, sorry you went through it. The power displays are unnecessary and for those of us who have had run-ins with the medical board, we’re going to practice a very different kind of medicine after the fact – anything to not get us in front of a governing body ever again. The problem is that this kind of medicine is not good medicine, it’s defensive, it’s overly conservative.
For the rest of the doctors who didn’t even know to worry about the medical board coming after them, they are going to be blind-sided. They, like you and I, will lose a couple of years of their lives to this situation which will impact everyone around them. And doctors are some serious placeholders in society. Most of us have multiple individuals dependending on us, often financially. The ripple effect is bad for everyone.

I agree. The young doctors cannot be in a place to understand, as we were not able or prepared to understand early on. They (and we) don’t want to believe these kinds of dangerous games are being played with us. It’s not different in other parts of society, is it? Power plays, predators, zero-sum games. I read somewhere long ago someone say “There are only two types of people. Those that want to be left alone and those that don’t want to leave you alone.”.

Doc Mo!

Wow, what an ordeal you have been through! Keep fighting the machine, bro!!! I have had a similar experience to yours with Colorado med board (2012) and ABFM. It ain’t easy Trying to hustle-up work in my situation, but I haven’t paid a dime to the ABFM tyrants since 2013. It ain’t easy but at least I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I’m not a prostitute for this corrupt kabal.

I have had dealings with this Andrea Back, lawyer-lady, too. I researched getting back in their (abfm’s) good graces, but with my board issue they won’t let me do it until my license restrictions are lifted. I’ve taken and passed the exam three times, but cannot even sit for it again until I do 6 years worth of back-MOC shit and 300 hours of CME. The website says that after 7 year’s I have to go back and complete the Residency again like that would ever happen!

I would do NBPAS too, I think they’re great, but currently have a restricted license. I should have had it cleared by now, but can’t get any work in order to fulfill my stipulation requirements. My MD life is SHIT on top of SHIT!

I encourage all doc’s, especially us FP’s, to join NBPAS! They need the numbers in order to become a legitimate entity on the national stage. Also, join the fight against the ABMS/ABFM et al!

Best of luck to you, I’m following your blog, thanks for it!

Sorry to hear that Tim – seems that you have many more years of frustration under your belt. No matter what your case was, it’s a shame to have any event cast such a shadow on our many years of hard work. Agreed that the system overall is a little rigged and there is no way to see that until you roll into the gutters and that’s when you realize it. Even if someone told me right out of residency that this really could happen, no way in fucking hell I would have believed them. I would have said that they were either corrupt and just didn’t tell me the whole story or that there is a way to deal with it otherwise.

As you clearly pointed out, it’s one thing to get out from under ABFM which is obviously corrupt. But not being able to be represented by NBPAS is another added layer of complexity. As I can imagine, NBPAS doesn’t want to be the curator of all the white coat criminals who otherwise can’t get credentialed with ABMS.

It’s heartbreaking man – I dunno what else to say. I feel very alone in this even though I know others are going and have gone through the same. I can either look for closure by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight them and make that my mission in life or I lay down and take it. The former gives me the illusion of fighting back when in fact I’m just making the system richer and more entrenched. The latter will get me no support from others who will say “well, you didn’t fight it so what do you expect”.

One concept that I’ve tried to keep repeating to myself is that I have options. Yes, it sucks and it’s overwhelming and very discouraging, but it’s only medicine. It’s the system of medicine and there are thousands of other careers and jobs from which I can earn an income. The fact that I am still butthurt by this means that I haven’t disidentified from medicine as much as I thought I had.

Best of luck to you Tim. Hope you’ve found a path through all this and I hope you’re sharing your story with others like you’re doing here. It’s good to be aware of this even though it will likely only happen to very few of up, hopefully.

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