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Medical License Suspension and Board Certification

I get asked about a medical license suspension and board certification repercussions a lot, so I thought I’d dive into this today. But before I do, I want to remind every doctor reading this that you are far more than your medical license and that in the end, in the big scheme of things, after the dust settles, you’ll be fine. In fact, for some, you’ll be better off than before. But I know you don’t see that right now.

Every time a physician contacts me, they start by saying that they have no idea how evil and corrupt the state medical boards are. Then, they commend me for my bravery. And they mention that I’m the only physician who has openly documented his medical board investigation and how grateful they are.

Medical License Suspension Consequences

When one state suspends your license for usually 30 – 90 days, other states may do a reciprocal suspension until they look into your case. Some will reopen it if they know that you got had for some bullshit. But, of course, when it’s something more serious, expect your license to remain suspended in other states until that state medical board performs its own investigation.

During the suspension, you can’t perform any medical work, including medical volunteer work. You also often cannot perform any consulting if it requires the use of your medical license, though I have written about that before, there are exceptions.

If you own a medical practice, you cannot operate that clinic under your active license. This is a major blow for those of you who have your own business, and you’ll need to come up with ways to have your business run until you come off suspension.

“Corrupt” State Medical Boards

I don’t personally agree with the descriptor corrupt, but the reason physicians consider the state medical boards as corrupt is because of all the money they collect and because they are above the law.

Also, when a physician has their license suspended or goes into probation, sure, it’s one licensee who gets fucked over, but it’s hundreds and often thousands of patients who will also suffer. And a state medical board that cannot protect the people whom it was designed to protect but yet collects money from licensees, well, you get the idea.

Your Board Certification Under the ABMS

Most physicians with whom I chat about my own medical board investigation often look at me a bit sideways, a bit of disbelief, and maybe think to themselves, nah, that ain’t gonna happen to me.

When I say that every physician should get NBPAS board certification before they find themselves in the claws of a state medical board investigation, physicians often don’t take any action.

Once you have a license suspension (30 – 180 days) or end up in probation (1 – 5 years) you often will be “disbarred” by your board certification entity; whether ABFM or ABD, or ABEM. They are all under the ABMS brand.

During this time you cannot bill as an ER doctor or Gynecologist or Psychiatrist. You are now the same as the rest of us general practitioner lowlives – welcome to the other side.

Get Alternate Board Certification

I realized something about our breed, the physicians practicing here in the US; we don’t like spending money on preventative shit or advice. A financial advisor, consultant, attorney, or any other expense that isn’t immediately necessary or closely tied to hedonism is a waste of money. I have some ideas as to why we are this way.

So, I’ll say this briefly, and I’ll leave you to it. There are 2 very important things you need as a physician:

  1. Alternative board certification (NBPAS)
  2. Disability insurance

Commercial Insurance Payers

Next, you have to deal with the insurance payers. Will they kick you out for having had a license suspension? What about when you are on probation?

The way the laws work, commercial insurance companies in each state handle physician medical board investigations differently. Some will drop you just because you lost your board certification (even if it’s temporary), which means you’ll have to reapply.

In some states, it’s not as big of a deal, and most physicians who have suspension or probation are able to continue staying in-network after the insurance company does its own due diligence.

The best way to know how your state handles such matters is with the expertise of a competent attorney. Ask how their previous clients dealt with such issues and if commercial insurers dropped their physicians.

Dear State Medical Board

If you’re a state medical board member and you’re reading this, understand that the practice of medicine is quite messy. We don’t get to see patients in an isolated, sterile bubble. Instead, we are dealing with our own medical conditions, 2 patients who showed up late, a surgical case with a bad outcome, an overdue personal tax bill, a patient who isn’t telling us the whole story of their condition, a pharmacist who has been on the line waiting for us for 30 minutes, and 3.5 nurses who are interrupting us while we’re intensely focused on a procedure or trying to figure out why our patient is presenting with sudden onset lower extremity weakness and whether we need to do antibody testing for HTLV since the MRI again was negative.

Physicians do their best, but we are human. Punish us, absolutely. But if you, as a board member, are clueless about what consequences your actions have on the patients you represent or the physician’s career you tarnish, then you need to talk to some doctors who went through the medical board investigation.

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