A medical board investigation is undoubtedly disruptive. However, it can also greatly harm your future career potential. Regardless of what the outcome might be, the investigation alone will be a burden that you will carry with you forever. Let’s talk about a medical board investigation and your career, the hazards, and what to look out for.
In future posts I’ll discuss how to get credentialed after your lose your medical license. Or after you had a license suspension or are on probation or all sorts of other fun shit.
The medical board investigation process is very involved. And it can take months and often years for things to settle.
Losing Your Job
When your employer gets wind of your medical board investigation they might react by immediately putting you in touch with your legal team or they might choose to distance themselves from you.
If you are in a per diem role it’s far less likely for your employer to be vested in your cause.
It’s perfectly legitimate for your employer to end your contract with them for any reason whatsoever. There is no law in the US that states that an employer needs a reason to terminate you.
Employers who wish to minimize friction might just take you off of your shifts with the reason of “pending investigation”. This is the same as letting you go except that you are still affiliated with that employer.
The problem isn’t just losing your job but also trying to find a new one.
Applying For New Jobs
If I lose my job then the first thing for me to do is to look for a new job in order to pay for my overhead. Applying for new jobs means filling out background investigation questionnaires and malpractice questionnaires.
“Are you or have you ever been investigated by a medical board?”
“Are you or have you ever been fired or investigated by a previous employer?”
Since the outcome of medical board investigations isn’t certain, it’s quite likely that an employer will hold off on offering you a job until your situation is more clear.
You cannot lie on such forms because you sign them under penalty of perjury.
If You Have A Side Income
Let’s say you were fortunate enough to have a side income as a per diem in another facility. This would be ideal because now you can pick up more shifts there in order to cover your overhead.
One hurdle to overcome is feeling emotionally exhausted by the medical board investigation. Seeing patients in this state may increase your risk of making mistakes.
This other per diem gig may not offer you enough hours to make it worthwhile. Suddenly you find yourself taking the less desirable shifts and doing so much of the work that you start burning out from it.
Medical License Renewal
A medical board investigation generally takes a year to resolve. If your medical license is good for a year and you have enough time left for the investigation to get underway then you are fine.
However, if your medical license is coming up for renewal in a couple of months then the medical board is well within their right to delay your renewal or not grant it until the investigation resolves.
This is the situation that I am facing. My state medical license will be expiring by the end of next month. I have submitted my renewal but haven’t yet heard back.
You Only Have 1 State Medical License
Most of us only have a single state medical license. We renew it every couple of years along with our respective state DEA licenses.
Let’s say your renewal time falls into the timeline of the investigation and your state decides to hold off on the renewal. Could you go apply to a neighboring state?
You have to answer the question “Are you or have you ever been investigated by a state medical board?” Once again you will run into the same problem as switching jobs. Will the new state give you a license or deny you a license until the hearing is underway?
Even If You Have Other State Licenses
Your medical board will report the results and their final decision regarding the investigation to the Federation of State Medical Boards.
There is no rule preventing other states in which you hold a medical license from investigating you for the same exact issue. Naturally, the more unfavorable the judgement, the more likely for other states to join in the fun.
What Other Mistakes Have You Made?
I know for sure that if an investigator were to look through everything I’ve done clinically for the past decade they would find faults and flaws. From charting to coding to prescribing.
The problem with a medical board investigation is that even if the investigation is regarding a benign matter, the investigators can go through your career with a fine toothed comb and find other problems.
They can then investigate each one of those situations and at the very least complicate the initial investigation process.
A medical board investigation isn’t about the money you’ll lose but also the time. You’ll have to communicate back and forth with your lawyer. You’ll have to take courses. You’ll have to secure character witnesses. You’ll have to reply to medical board investigation letters.
You may have to do FBI fingerprints for background checks. You may have to meet with the medical board multiple times. And you’ll have to sit down with your lawyer to prep for the interviews with the medical board.
And time lost is money lost. Not just the loss of your potential income. You would also not earn the necessary income to pay back your debt.
I hope I am not generating unnecessary fear here but I think it’s worthwhile discussing such real possibilities.
Let’s assume that the medical board’s final judgement is favorable with them noting only that you did make a mistake. For that mistake they will send you a public reprimand and the medical board investigation would end there.
However, they will also send you a letter saying that if something similar were to happen in the future then they could combine the charges into a harsher sentence.
It’s like an expedited 3-strike law.
3 replies on “Medical Board Investigation and Your Career”
Super informative and well written post, thanks for sharing your experience with us.
Medical board investigations have their own sets of rules. They don’t have to play by normal med mal litigation rules. This was shocking to me. Maybe I’m naive? It’s like the state medical boards are their own JAG corps and have their own set of legal rules when it comes to punishing docs. Insane
I haven’t been in front of the actual medical board members yet so I don’t want to pass judgment quite yet. My experience with the investigators so far has been a huge disappointment. Perhaps the board members are less likely to be so bold. However, it seems irrational to me that the board gets to make a decision for which I need legal representation but they don’t have to abide by any courtroom standards. And if I disagree with the final ruling then not only would I have to pay out of pocket but then it suddenly becomes a case that presided over by a judge.
Again, I’ll reserve judgement until after all this is up.