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.
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”:
- She acknowledged that the CMB may impose their own professional disciplinary actions based on the facts she outlined in my case.
- 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.
In this next section the ALJ made her recommendations to the CMB.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.