Most employment contracts you have signed with medical groups require you to report any adverse outcomes from any investigations to their compliance or HR team.
In order to comply with this it’s helpful to take the initiative and report your medical license suspension to your employer and let them decide what actions they want to take against you, if any.
This is quite uncomfortable but it’s necessary. I’ll go over some of the basics and you can always sit down with a lawyer to devise your own strategy.
The general process is that they will review the details of the medical license suspension and present it before their committee members. They will decide then to either fire your ass or keep you on after your license suspension is complete.
Failing to Report Adverse Outcomes
Because you signed a contract with your employer promising to report any adverse outcomes to them, you would be committing perjury by not reporting the event.
If nothing else, it will make you look like you’re unreliable. Regardless of how painful it is to do it, report the matter to your employer and be prepared for the consequence.
If you fail to notify your employer then they can report you to the medical board. Since you are already on the medical board’s shit list, you will only complicate your situation. This has happened plenty of times and some medical boards screen for this, hoping to catch you doing it.
In some circumstances you may have signed an employment contract in which you don’t have report a medical board investigation or license suspension to your employer. 2 of the companies I do telemedicine work for didn’t have such a reporting requirement for medical license suspensions.
Read over your contract and you should be able to figure this out. If you’re not sure then consult a lawyer which you can often do over email. They will likely charge you 1-2 hours for this service at ~$300/hour to review your contract and advise you on the next steps.
Also, if you are a per diem and don’t intend to continue picking up more shifts you don’t have to report the adverse event to your employer. Since you don’t owe them any continued work and they don’t owe you an employment contract, you can choose to stop working for them at this point.
However, should you decide to continue picking up shifts, then it would be necessary to report the incidence.
Reporting the Medical License Suspension
My situation was relatively mild in the sense that the event that took place wasn’t egregious. If your situation is more complicated then it might be a good idea to have a medical lawyer write up a comprehensive explanation which you can forward to your employer(s).
You can draft an email and attach your stipulated order with the medical board and include a separate letter in your own words, describing the license suspension.
If you’re unsure whom to send it to, send it to your HR department. If your medical group has a credentialing committee then send your email there.
The less you say the better. This isn’t the time to make the medical board or other parties look bad. It’s better to accept some responsibility and provide the simplest explanation of the events possible.
Drafting the Letter
Don’t send them a letter with legal jargon.
Keep it brief and use your own words.
Don’t be defensive but don’t be excessively apologetic, either.
Over-explaining the situation will either confuse the committee or cast doubt on your story.
Ignore the details in the stipulated order. Most medical groups understand that the medical board has their own narration of the story. They want to hear from you as to what happened. You don’t have to be as rigorous as when you report such a suspension to other state medical boards where you’re licensed.
Talk about your intention and focus on the good you were trying to do. Explain the mistake you made and end on something positive.
If you’re employed it’s much harder for your employer to let you go over something minor; it’s not that they can’t, they usually don’t want the headache of a disgruntled ex-employee. If you’re a per diem it’s more likely that they will cut the cord in order to avoid any further drama.
All my experiences with the medical companies so far have been positive. The only negative experiences I’ve had has been with the medical boards.
I have reported the investigation events to multiple medical groups and a few of the companies for whom I do consulting work. This was my first round and it gets quite expensive because my lawyer will need to review each contract and then we have to come up with a strategy.
I have completed a few rounds of reporting and now that I am dealing with California and Washington medical boards, I will wait before reporting to any other medical groups until I know what will happen.
The likely outcome of reporting is that you will be pulled off of your shifts. This means that you can’t see patients until your case is discussed before the committee or decided on by the medical director.
Your Rights as an Employee
If you’re a per diem then you aren’t an employee, you are an independent contractor. There is very little loyalty your medical group has to show you in such a situation.
At the same time, the medical group doesn’t want bad publicity and so if it’s something benign enough then they will let it go.
But understand that the medical group has to control their potential risk. They will run things by their lawyers and then decide how to address your case.
When it comes to your rights as an employee, you have a lot less rights than you think.
The 2 things that you’ll have going against you is that the medical group can always claim that they were worried about patient safety. And the other, that you’re a highly compensated employee – nobody is going to feel sorry for you.
Your employer can terminate your contract at any time – there is no law protecting you unless it’s discriminatory. Or they can pull you from patient care until they decide your case – secretly hoping that you might resign.
Resigning from your Job
Unfortunately, if your employer pulls you from your shifts and you resign then you’ll look bad.
In the future, you’ll come across employment questions where you might be asked if you ever resigned while you were being investigated. Saying yes to this looks bad. It’s generally better to wait for your employer to let you go than for you to resign in such situations.
When I resigned from my job at Kaiser Permanente I did so right after they started their own internal investigation. This ended up hurting me a lot which I found out later.
When it all Blows Over
Many of you have written me and shared your own stories about your medical license suspension, punishments, and license revocations.
It’s all really tough to digest and understand and I genuinely feel for every physician who gets treated like a piece of shit during such a process.
On one hand the medical boards are limited as to how much information they can obtain to truly decide if a physician is guilty or not. On the other hand they look better if they punish doctors since it’s not the doctors they serve but the public.
Fortunately, whether you got your license suspended, whether you got a slap on the wrist, a public reprimand letter, lost your job, or even got your medical license revoked, there is hope in the future.
Eventually such events will be distant memories. You’ll hopefully move on emotionally and you’ll find new jobs to work at. You can even petition the medical board to reinstate your license after a minimum of 3 years have past and they will even eventually lift any probations or suspensions.
Take a Vacation
You may not have the emotional capacity to do this but if you do then I highly recommend to use a medical license suspension as a time to enjoy a long vacation.
One physician friend in Canada got his medical license suspended for 6 months after practicing for nearly 35 years. He entered an agreement with the medical board to have the suspension pushed off 1.5 years – and that’s when he’ll retire with nearly $15M since he always invested wisely.
I used my medical license suspension time to live it up in Spain and haven’t seen a single patient in 26 days – it’s heaven. While the medical board investigators are busy intimidating other doctors and sweating their balls off in their shitty tiny offices, I’m enjoying tapas, sand, ocean, and beer.