I hope that you will never face a medical license suspension in your career. But if you’re reading this page then you’re either subscribed to the blog or are facing a potential actions by a state medical board against your medical license.
Or maybe you just want to know how to prevent a professional license suspension.
First, know that you’re not alone. It’s just that everyone else won’t speak up about it. We don’t say nothing about our dealings with the state medical boards because our lawyers tell us not to. And because we’re afraid of blowback by the state medical boards.
A License Suspension
Your license can be suspended by your state medical board for any reason; they don’t like your attitude, you’re too old, you’re a woman, you prescribed too many meds, your face looks funny.
A license suspension is meant to hurt you financially and cripple your career. It’s not meant to protect the public, even though that’s what the state medical board will tell you over and over.
The State Medical Boards
The job of the state medical boards isn’t an easy one, so let’s give them some credit. They have limited resources and their investigators are often burnt out ex-cops. They have to represent the public who won’t go easy on them if a rogue doctor gets away with something.
They often have 1 lawyer who might be covering other administrative sectors, as well. And the medical board members are often, but not always, volunteers. Many whom have taken on that role to “right some wrongs”.
Still, the state medical board is not on your side. They do not have your best interest in mind as a physician licensee. They consider it a privilege for you to be licensed and they don’t abide by the same legal proceedings when it comes to your license.
You are 100% “guilty until proven otherwise”.
They don’t have to prove to anyone that you’re guilty of anything. As I said above, they can revoke or suspend your medical license or place you on probation if they feel it’s justified.
Consequence of a Medical License Suspension
What will it mean for your medical career if your medical license is suspended?
If you are still employed by your medical group, when it comes to renewing your contract, the credentialing committee may not grant you a new contract.
If you were fired by your previous employer then finding a new job will be very difficult. Just ask any physician staffing agency and they will tell you how tough it is to get a job placement after any length of medical license suspension.
You likely won’t be able to get any telemedicine jobs, you won’t be able to sit on any professional committees, ever. You won’t be able to become a medical director or CMO, unless it’s your own company.
The mark of a license suspension is permanent. It never disappears from your history and will definitely be reported to the NPDB. I know that because my rap sheet is 21 pages long and counting after my 30-day medical license suspension.
Getting a Lawyer
Even the most harmless email or letter from your state medical board can lead to a license suspension. In fact, they usually will pretend to be rather chummy with you in order to get you to open up.
Do not talk to anyone from the medical board about the details of your work or a case or anything until you’ve talked to a lawyer. You can always say that you’ll get back to them as soon as you speak to a lawyer.
“Oh, but why would you need to talk to a lawyer before answering this simple question, do you have something to hide?”
Gosh, no, I’m just worried that I might give away sensitive information. Also, my lawyer has clearly instructed me to never speak to anyone before speaking to her first. Can I call you back in 2 hours and discuss it further?
A lawyer is absolutely critical. But don’t assume that your lawyer has your best interest in mind. Most administrative licensing lawyers who represent physicians are on the good side of their state medical boards.
They know their state’s medical board lawyer by first name. They can call them up and negotiate a deal. You would think that this is good, it’s not. It means that your lawyer will not ruin their reputation for you and risk their future pull with the medical board.
Sometimes you need a criminal lawyer when dealing with your state medical board. And when you’re facing a physician license suspension, you need to go toe-to-toe with the medical board. It all depends on the details of your case.
I’ve had to figure out all of this the hard way after dealing with 3 different state medical boards.
I highly recommend that you talk to other docs who’ve fought this fight before. Get as much inside information as possible and push your lawyer in the right direction. Need my help? Contact me here.
Probation vs. License Suspension
When you’re dealing with your state medical board they will offer you various options. And if they don’t, you better know what offers they might accept in order to reach an agreed upon stipulated order.
You might face accepting a 5-year probation versus a 30-day license suspension – or something along those lines. In order to decide which option is best, the details of your case matter and your current job position is very important.
It’s easier to find a job if you’ve had a 30-day license suspension than if you are on active probation. But that’s not the whole story – but should help you get some ideas.
Check Your Attitude
When it comes to your state medical board, be kind, be respectful, be cooperative, but be firm. This is tough balance to strike up but it’s doable and it’s critical.
Don’t be rude, don’t be passive aggressive, and don’t be vindictive. Not only will you look back on this experience and recall these negative actions and emotions, it also won’t help you.
You are dealing with human beings who represent the medical board. They are just as afraid of not punishing you enough as you are of getting punished excessively.
Be kind without being soft. Be kind and firm. Your narrative … your narrative is everything. And if your lawyer isn’t helping you figure out your narrative, you’re screwed.
Be respectful because you may have to deal with the medical board in the future.
Be respectful because your state medical board who is investigating you even for something rather bogus could go after other things from your past. Got skeletons in the closet? Got a few charts which aren’t so neat? Prescribed an antibiotic to your ex or your MA?
The mistake I made is withhold information from the medical board investigator because I thought it was my responsibility to protect the identity of the patient.
Once the state medical board contacts you, you are safe to and allowed to give them all HIPAA protected information.
And if you don’t, they can force it out of you. They can and will confiscate your cell phone, computer, or other documents if they feel the need to.
When dealing with your state’s medical board you have to be firm. You must admit to what you did wrong but you must be firm on what you did right and what your intentions were.
Nobody will stand up for you; not your lawyer and not your state medical board. You can be firm without being rude. You must be your #1 advocate.
The state medical boards will discriminate against you if you are a woman, if you have mental health issues, if you are on any mind-altering medications, if you have any substance abuse history, if you have any disabilities, if you’re old, or if you’re minority – especially if you have an accent.
They will discriminate because no jury and no administrative judge will feel sorry for a those whom our society normally discriminates against.
What can you do? Know that you are starting the battle with a disadvantage and arm yourself with knowledge.
You Got a Medical License Suspension
Let’s say you’re reading this post after you’ve already got a 30-day medical license suspension. Now what?
You can recover from this. It takes some work and you’ll have to go back and clean up some things on your professional record. You’ll need help and you’ll need emotional support.
If you’re on the bottle, suicidal, or feel fucked up in the head in any other way, it’s important that you get help and support so that you can tackle this next bit. And I’m genuinely sorry that you’re in such a place.
You need a lawyer to help you clean up your professional database. You’ll need to communicate with the state medical board to see how you can clean up your record.
You will need to work with a solid staffing agency who can get you a good gig. You’ll need to build up a few such work experiences so that you can slowly apply for better jobs.
You can also consider starting your own medical practice. The only credentialing team you’ll have to deal with is yourself and possibly a malpractice insurer.
Once you’re ready to look for jobs, once again, your narrative is everything. You need to know what story to provide to potential future employees so that it summarizes the case beautifully.