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California Medical Board Hearing – Final Decision

Here is a head scratcher – I just got an email from the California Medical Board and they have agreed to file nothing but a Public Letter of Reprimand regarding my case. No license suspension. No other other course to take. No probation. No disciplinary action, at all.

If you recall, I ended up going to the Medical Board hearing thinking that I was going to appear before the California Medical Board members. Intead, I took the stand before an Administrative Law Judge and got grilled by the Medical Board attorney.

Administrative Law Judge Proposed Decision

So this is how it goes down. The presiding Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hears the case, usually with me and my attorney present, while the Medical Board attorney argues on behalf of the California Medical Board (CMB).

The ALJ reviews all the information and then comes up with a “proposed decision”. She submits this to me and the Medical Board. The Medical Board then decides whether to accept her recommendation or go with their own modified decision.

Legal Conclusions

The entire document is 17 pages. 6 of which is what the ALJ typed out. There are various sections which I’ll go over. Let’s go over the ALJ’s “Legal Conclusion”:

  1. She acknowledged that the CMB may impose their own professional disciplinary actions based on the facts she outlined in my case.
  2. She acknowledged that my actions constituted unprofessional conduct.

I unknowingly entered a patient-doctor relationship with my colleague and I shortcut the system. And I didn’t cooperate with the Oregon Medical Board investigator when he asked for the name of my colleague. So, no doubt, this all constitutes unprofessional conduct by a licensee.

I learned a lot from all of this and embarrassed to say that I had no idea how the administrative process worked in regards to a Medical Board investigation. Though none of my colleagues were any wiser, I should have learned about this before stepping into some major dog shit.

Disciplinary Considerations

In this next section the ALJ made her recommendations to the CMB.

  1. She highlighted that I have already taken a professionalism course and I already had my medical license suspended by another state. She didn’t believe that I pose a risk of future misconduct.
  2. She mentioned that just because another state Medical Board decided to discipline me, it doesn’t mean that California has to do the same. Regarding my case, she felt that a reprimand is appropriate.

Order

In this final section, titled “Order”, the ALJ signed off on a public reprimand which reads: Dr. Mo is hereby publicly reprimanded. 

California Medical Board’s Final Decision

When I got the email I wasn’t sure if this was the final decision or just the ALJ’s recommendation. I reached out to the CMB’s Enforcement Unit to confirm whether this was indeed the final judgment.

2 hours later I got an email reply back. Yeap. My drama with the California Medical Board has finally come to an end.

Towards the very beginning of this public reprimand letter it states that “this proposed decision is hereby adopted”. It goes on to state the date when it will become effective. Maybe obvious but I felt better confirming it with the Board.

It’s also signed by the CMB chair, who is an MD.

Unexpected Outcome

The reason I call this outcome a head scratcher is because the hearing went really poorly. The CMB attorney mopped the floor with me. Even though the ALJ was very patient with me and helped throughout the whole process, I had no business being there without a lawyer.

The CMB attorney asked the ALJ for all sorts of things, including having me take another course, pay a fine, practice under supervision, and other stuff that I can’t recall.

Looking back, as I discussed in this previous post, I wonder if she had to do this in order to ensure a fair process; if the attorney has to paint you with the worst brush possible in order to have the ALJ hear both sides of the story.

Even if that’s true, even if this is what it takes to ensure justice, I found the Medical Board hearing process to be a terrible experience; dehumanizing to say the least. It really left bad taste in my mouth and it has taken a very long time to come to a conclusion – well, it’s not all over yet.

Faith in CMB

The California Medical Board treated me incredibly fairly. Remember, Oregon suspended my license for 30 days, they fined me $5,000, and just a few days ago they wanted to restrict my medical license even though this case is nearly 2 years old. 

So, much love to the CMB for not running me over with the legal Mack truck. If I ever want to return to the practice of medicine, this will look very favorably.

Now What?

This all started May, 2017. It’s now four days shy of May, 2019. I’m still in disbelief that this situation is behind me. Elated doesn’t come close to describing it. No more having to check my email every minute and send out certified letters and check my virtual mailbox.

I still have a few steps to complete with the Washington Medical Commission. However, their compliance unit is uncharacteristically cooperative and so I don’t see that as a hurdle.

I have one last telemedicine company left who has kept me on – can you believe it? It’s DialCare. They still let me see telemedicine patients in California and Oregon. I will need to continue with them in order to meet the criteria of being state licensed in those states.

The Privilege to Practice Medicine

I still want to practice medicine. Wish I didn’t, but I do. I don’t care if it’s for money or not. I just am not ready to give up my right to practice. I think it’ll be easier when I give it up on my own terms – which means I’m a control freak?

At the same time, the risk of practicing medicine moving forward is far higher. I am now a professional leper, a white coat criminal. Any patient who googles my name, any lawyer who considers to sue my medical ass will see my run-in with the Medical Boards.

Fortunately, malpractice suits are far less complicated than administrative processes. Your lawyer can handle everything. The insurance company pays for all litigation costs. It’s just a colostomy bag that you’ll have to carry with you for a couple of years, until it’s done.

For now I have my own telemedicine practice through VSee. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. But it has been a positive experience for me to learn how to run my own practice. I don’t have anything else to say about it but will be giving this a lot more thought over the next few months.

18 replies on “California Medical Board Hearing – Final Decision”

Congratulations! All bark, no bite. Look, I know it hurts, and Oregon was INSANE (thinking of giving up my Oregon license after what you’ve been through), but I bet you’ll be able to work again if you want to. What happened with Kaiser?

Oregon restricts everyone’s license who isn’t working/residing instate. Mine’s been “inactive” for five years. I wouldn’t sweat that.

So KP …. interesting. Basically, SCPMG contacted NW Permanente to inquire about the incidence. NWP legal told them that I “stole” from KP and basically considered what I did “fraudulent” and they suspected that I had an “inappropriate relationship” with the woman colleague on whom I requested the EKG. This came out after the chief of the urgent care at SCPMG had to call up herself to obtain the details.
I could be doing the reverse cowgirl with this female colleague, live, on YouTube, while blogging about it and it actually would have made no difference in this case. I never intentionally entered a patient-doctor relationship with her so it wouldn’t have mattered. The fact that NWP has made up so many lies about me tells me that either someone got a little butt-hurt or they are trying to cover up the fact that they terminated that nurse who did the EKG without due process.
As far as fraud, I agree with that, I don’t think I should have gotten an EKG on a person who wasn’t going to check in and pay the office visit fee. But there is more to it – this person would not have waited around for the EKG which she had already been putting off. I’m not about to justify what I did as right from a legal perspective – it was wrong, no doubt. But I was advocating for a patient. There has to be some leniency there if for not other reason other than keeping all the powerful groups (doctors, medical groups, medical boards, pharma’s) in check.
In the end I learned a lot about the legal system. I’ve learned how to protect myself better. I’ve recognized risks of being a physician which wasn’t even on my radar. Still digesting everything that happened but yea, overall, wish I could have learned these things through other means but, man, am I glad I know what I know now.

Congratulations are definitely in order. Well done and glad that the end result was a lot less severe than it could have been.

Can you now reinstate your Oregon license or are you just not going to bother with that state?

Anyway, all this is now in the rearview mirror and glad you are allowed to practice medicine if you choose to. Best of luck!

The license is still active in Oregon. What they did is suspend it for 30 days. Then they wanted to restrict the license but decided not to. I honestly haven’t yet decided what I want to do with my medical career. I’m still looking around for good jobs and opportunities. But right now my income from my healthcare consulting work is pretty solid and I don’t have to risk my medical license. We’ll see – a little too early for me to tell.

Congratulations Dr. Mo and thank you very much for taking us through the process. I can’t imagine that it has been easy to be so transparent about your journey here but it has been very educational and much appreciated.

That’s kind of you to say. I get as much from your guys’ feedback and encouragement as you hopefully get out of the transparency. It’s a shame that we cannot be more transparent as medical professionals. Then again the secrecy underwrites the high salaries we earn as employees. I don’t recommend this level of transparency unless you are willing to risk your state medical board slapping you being behaving unprofessionally as a physician. Remember that you aren’t a physician because you finished medical school or residency, you only are allowed to call yourself a physician if you have an active state license. And thus you cannot advertise yourself as a physician in another state. I say all of this because the word physician is a trademark which is protected by the medical boards. The terms of using that TM are in your state’s Medical Practice Act. If you label yourself as a physician as say anything disparaging about the profession then your actions could be considered unprofessional and grounds for discipline.
At the same time, it’s now easier than ever to become a 100% anonymous blogger or podcaster. The steps aren’t easy but you can have the kind of anonymity which can’t be pierced even if the FBI or CIA forced the hand of your hosting site.

Sounds like the bigger issue is Kaiser. What they are saying sounds unsubstantiated- I’m surprised their legal let them get away with it. I know you are sick of paying for lawyers, but not such a big deal if you are FI; have you considered having your attorney contact KPNW so they can hash out a letter/reference that’s acceptable to all sides? It would probably only cost a few k and would be worth it if you want to do clinical in the future.

I just recorded a podcast episode talking about this issue, gonna release it shortly – you’re right, it might be worthwhile to pursue this just for the sake of making sure that KPNW’s future narrative of my work history is accurate and not libelous. This is something my lawyer and I have discussed and it’s something that I can revisit with him in the future. We actually attempted this once. First he had me call KP legal and HR and then he did the same with KP legal right before we went to appear before the Oregon Medical Board. They assured each of us that they had nothing negative on me. Once we showed up to the hearing, of course, they had sent the board a lot of derogatory shit which hurt me during the interview. I had too many fires to put out at the time to go after KP but I have since collected some good data I can use to reopen the case.
We’ll see what my options are when I have the mental space to deal with it.
As for FI – I get the point you are making but for the sake of anyone else reading these threads it’s important to point out that being FI only means that I have enough passive income to pay for my general/basic lifestyle expenses. I can’t raid my investments to pay for legal counsel at a whim nor use the dividend income or other proceeds to do so. It’s a bit of a technicality but still important to point out. In my case I still earn plenty of money for being “retired” so it may not apply but thought I’d point it out.

Wow you can totally sue KPNW for saying that stuff about you to another potential employer. (Though it’s Kaiser to Kaiser, so maybe same employer?) Talk to employment lawyer?

I’ll be talking to a few lawyers over the next few weeks/months to figure out how I want to pear down my licensures. I don’t want to be state licensed in 3 states any longer – 1 will be more than adequate. So I’ll see where I want to practice and in what capacity and then I’ll address the job thing as well.

If you want to practice clinical medicine in any capacity, you really need to consider taking on KPNW. I doubt if this will cost much money- probably far less than 5k. They are leaving themselves WIDE OPEN to a lawsuit from you if they interfere with future employment (not sure of the legal situation between SCPMG and KPNW); I’m shocked they were allowed to say such things, even if they believed them to be true they are unsubstantiated and unproven. It’s a huge legal risk to them.

With all the time and money you’ve spent on your licensing issues, it seems insane not to clear this up.

Well well. I am truly happy this is over. We have not met but your transparency through this blog tells me that you are an outstanding individual and it is really a shame you had to go through this.

Quick question as I begin my telemedicine journey….

Are you doing any online ads to drive traffic to your telemedicine site on Vsee. I looked into doing some google adwords for my site but it seemed like the big telemedicine companies were already doing the same thing.

Thanks Mike for your kind words. It was a shame but I learned a lot and I hope I shared enough that nobody who reads this would make a similar mistake.
Online ads aren’t a bad idea as I’ve discussed before but if you’re competing with the big DTC telemed’s then I think you’re wasting your efforts. If however you are targeting a more niche audience and charging a higher premium for your services then the CAC is easily justified. To answer you directly, I’m using medicalhealthcoach.com as my advertisement along with its associated IG account both of which are very low cost, to me.
I think a facebook ad campaign would be a lot better but you should read Jeff Segal’s piece on Facebook marketing – I think it was him who wrote it, could have been somewhere else, I couldn’t find the link. I wrote about it somewhere on one of my posts, search for FB and you might find it.

Thanks. Will check it out.

By the way, have you worked with a billing company using the Vsee software. Is there any you can recommend……or is it even a good idea to do anything other than direct pay (credit cards, PayPal) when starting off.

Any billing company would work with you whether you have a virtual or physical practice. I can’t think of a reason of hiring a billing company for a telemedicine practice because there are only a few codes you can use for telemedicine depending on your specialty and practice type. VSee has a colid payment gate so that should generally suffice for you to collect your fees.

I committed no wrong and the California medical board destroyed my entire future and ripped apart my life and now they have solicited the Nursing Board to take my nursing license so that I will be homeless. The only reason I am in this situation is because I have a special needs child that I need to help. No one cares about me or my child. This post makes me feel even worse. No one can ever empathize with the gravity of what they did to me. They are still doing it. prolonged and repeated trauma over and over again, over 5 years. I have court dockets a mile long. no attorney. no money. bank is going negative. 700K in student loan debt. did nothing wrong.

The judgement of doing right or wrong sadly isn’t up to us or our peers. It’s decided by the medical board and it’s arbitrary. They will need to close a few cases every year because they are audited every 3 years and have to show that they are doing something with taxpayer dollars. If you’re a woman, if you have a special needs child, a lot of debt, are a minority, or have any other easy target on you, they’ll come after you gestapo style.
If you are feeling harassed by the medical board, the only way to fight them is with a criminal attorney, the ambulance chasers, forget the lawyers who specialize in medical board stuff, most will be very soft and have their reputation to protect. Remember that the private lawyers and the professionalism courses and the substance abuse groups all meet with the board regularly – they depend on them for repeat customers.

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