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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.

2 replies on “Medical License Suspension and Board Certification”

I completely agree with your take. The medical and credentialing boards are full of asinine people that are completely out of touch. Providers have no protection and they are absolute bullies not helping anyone! Medicine is subject to so many factors including luck. Yes, there are providers that abuse their power and deserve to be punished. Then there are others like myself who were punished unfairly and made an example of. I wish we could advocate more and take the people on these boards down. they do not understand context and act like they have never made a mistake.

Thank you for sharing your perspective. I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience.
My perspective hasn’t changed in regards to state medical boards, they are quite necessary for the practice of medicine to remain reputable. However, a punitive approach and one that is based on tarnishing a physician’s reputation helps nobody – not the board, not the patient, and not the doctor.
However, the mindset that those who punish should be punished is a worldview that perhaps leads to the medical boards punishing doctors. Instead, state medical boards should be tasked with protecting the public, and not “protecting the public from doctors” which is a truly asinine attitude to have. Instead, they should be protected from all commercial and noncommercial interests that could harm the public. When the CDC claims that a vaccine is 98% effective at preventing a certain infection the public should be protected. When a doctor is performing gyn exams without a chaperone the public should be protected. When a health insurance company is denying an MRI a doctor ordered and therefore engaging in the corporate practice of meidcine then a patient should be protected. But when a doctor does something that might seem borderline, then the state medical board must do their due diligence and beyond reasonable doubt prove that what the doctor did was intentionally harmful and not just coincidentally harmful to the patient. Not only that, they must prove that this doctor has had other similar suspicious behavior. And once this is identified the doctor should then be given the chance to undergo propoer interventions while compleely removed from any patient care that might cause harm and then evaluated to see if they have been reformed. Otherwise, the result is that we’ll get a lot of doctors practicing defensive medicine and trying anything and everything to fly under the radar and trying to protect their medical license. And should a state medical board take someone’s license away or smear their professional record there must be recourse for the physician. After all, if I wanted to live in a tyrannical state I would just move back to Iran and pay taxes there.

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