For those of you who have followed my medical board investigation ordeal, I left off at signing their stipulated order, agreeing to the fine, and the 30-day medical license suspension.
Once you agree to this, the stipulated order is presented before the medical board committee one more time and they sign it or refuse it.
Next, they notify you and your lawyer that the order is immediately effective. They also assign you a case manager who will help you get through the rest of the process. This person is supposed to be your confidant, the person who is on your side… more on that later.
All of my dealings with the Oregon Medical Board have been chaotic, disorganized, and punitive. There have been all sorts of oddities, such as my case manager giving me her wrong email address. This led to me getting no replies and having to pay my lawyer to sort it out.
Signing a Stipulated Order
The stipulated order is what all parties have to agree to – me, my lawyer, their lawyer. We presented it to the medical board and they agreed to it and signed it.
The moment it’s signed, it’s uploaded to your public records and all relevant parties are supposed to be notified. In it are all the details of the case, including the medical license suspension, fines, etc.
Unfortunately, neither myself nor my lawyer were notified that the stipulated order was accepted. I suspected that the medical board was going to sneak this past us and they did just that. 2 weeks ago they signed the stipulated order and it went into effect.
I didn’t think to do this, but I should have kept checking my state’s website because as soon as the stipulated order is signed, it has to be uploaded into my public profile.
I could have caught this sooner and prevented the subsequent headaches which I’ll discuss next. As I’ve mentioned before, the medical board is not on your side. They are out to get you and will do what it takes to build their case.
I only have 10 days to notify other states about a potential medical board action. And since the Oregon Medical board sneaked the decision past me, I failed the deadline for reporting.
Other State Medical Boards
You do not want to be in violation of your state medical board orders. This only complicates matters for you, especially after a medical license suspension.
Furthermore, if you signed anything in your employment contract that requires you to report any medical board action against you, then you also have a small window of time to report this to them.
I reviewed my contracts and some have no timeline written, others have 14 and 30-day reporting requirements. Some have no requirement for reporting at all.
Insurance companies such as CMS (Medicare, Medicaid) and malpractice insurance groups also need to be notified about my medical license suspension. I haven’t yet found out what their reporting guidelines are.
How I Found Out
Every time I email my lawyer I have to pay him for his time. And if I email him to ask about the status of my case then he has to contact the medical board. All of which costs me money.
This is the crazy roundabout method we had to use to figure out what’s going on. Even though I had a case manager assigned to me, she failed to notify me, nor did she reply to my inquiry which is why I had to get my lawyer involved.
The Case Manager
Since the medical board generally views the physician as guilty, it’s important to have an ally at the medical board. The case manager is supposedly that person.
They are considered to be on your side. Even my lawyer told me to consider my assigned case manager as a friend and not a foe. Someone who will have my best interest in mind and guide me through the rest of the process.
Their job is to help me navigate the process to which I’m naturally naive to. I had the exact opposite experience. Which was quite the opposite of the experience I had with the Washington Medical Commission case manager. This person was kind, attentive, and proactive.
Medical License Suspension Letter
So I contacted my lawyer who contacted their lawyer. Then my lawyer sent an email to my case manager and CC’d me. This sparked a reply and we were told that the order had been signed, that my 30-day medical license suspension would start in less than a week. And that a letter had already been mailed out which I should receive that day or the next.
The medical board office is 1.2 miles from my house. As of this writing, there is still no letter at my house which I’m having checked daily. I doubt a letter was sent out by the medical board or my case manager.
They likely mailed it off after we contacted them.
And I share these little details because it’s important to me that other doctors wake up to the casty situation we’re dealing with. As licensee holders, we are at the mercy of the medical board.
Next Steps, After Medical License Suspension
It’s best to notify your employer(s) that you have a board action against you. This will allow you to get ahead of the problem and explain the situation.
It’s imperative to have a clean narrative. Your lawyer can help you with this. However, in my experience, they don’t do a very good job. It’s better to formulate your own with the help of another doctor who has been through this.
If you don’t notify your employers the medical board can claim that you broke the rules of the stipulated order. As in, you didn’t abide by all the rules and regulations regarding your job. In fact, they will be looking for you to do that.
Other State Licenses
I will need to notify the other states where I’m licensed. I’m already in violation because of the timing which the states take seriously. All I can do is explain the situation without making the medical board look bad or else that will backfire.
I’ll be handling this part on my own. It’s going to be a drawn out process and paying my lawyer for the same repeat performance won’t be necessary.
Most likely the other 2 states where I am licensed will want to do their own investigation, interview me, and then instill their own chosen punishment.
I’m addending this post from the future. And yes, each state medical board (CA, WA) ended up doing their own investigation. Though, it was cursory at best. They cut and paste whatever Oregon said and held me accountable for that. It has been nearly 2.5 years and I am still dealing with the medical boards. I don’t expect this to end anytime soon.
Then I’ll have to notify CMS and deal with their inquiries next. I will also need to notify all insurance groups with whom I’m in-network.
I care about Medicaid and Medicare but don’t care as much about the insurance groups. I’ll deal with them if the topic comes up but it’s a headache enough having to deal with CMS.
If you end up getting kicked out of an insurance network just remember that you’ll have to report that to all parties I’ve already mentioned. Yes, it’s a cluster fuck.
30-Day Medical License Suspension
It’s nearly the end of the month and my suspension of medical practice is starting in a couple of days. I never expected for it to start this quickly.
“Practice of Medicine”
I am suspended for 30 days from the practice of medicine. I can’t get the medical board to tell me what that exactly means and my lawyer reminded me that this concept is open to interpretation.
The wording is as follows:
- advertising that I can practice medicine
- prescribe medication
- perform a surgical procedure
- diagnose, cure, or treat any health condition
- use the wording MD/DO/physician/surgeon/doctor for purposes of an occupation
I cannot use my skills or designation as a physician in any way to earn money. Because the wording allows room for interpretation, I need to be extra cautious. The medical board will be looking for me to break the orders of the contract I signed with them.
I inquired if I would be allowed to do any volunteer work and was told that volunteer work would fall under the suspension. I would think that the medical board should force doctors to volunteer when they have done something wrong.
But the purpose of the suspension is, I guess, to keep us dangerous doctors from harming the public which would include volunteering… for 30 days.
As I mentioned above, any kind of work where I use my professional degree, designation, or skills would be considered the practice of medicine. That includes consulting work if I am hired to do it because I’m a physician.
Monitoring my Medical License Suspension
The medical board is looking for their physicians to break the orders of the practice of medicine suspension. They will perform audits, they will ask your list of employers if you’re doing work, and they will screen national prescribing databases to see if you violated the suspension.
I’ll keep writing the blog but of course I’ll stop all consulting work for 30 days, I won’t volunteer, and I’ll stop all telemedicine and medical chart review work.
But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t remain productive. I’ll use this 30-day period to apply for some new gigs which I’ve been considering for a while.
I think it’s wise to not let your guard down even after being issued a medical license suspension. The timelines are extremely tight and if you find yourself in a similar situation as myself, a lawyer will be necessary in order to handle this timely.
It is frustrating and my head is spinning that this medical board investigation drama is still unfolding and getting more complicated. I wish it didn’t have to be this way; it’s the nature of the medical board investigation process to be punitive from what I understand.
Could your lawyer try to bulldoze the situation? Yes.
I had this conversation with my lawyer and he could flex on my behalf and complain but that could backfire. The medical board has a lot of power and can make my life hell for the next few years. It would be better to anticipate the next potential pitfall and be prepared for it.