If you’ve ever found yourself in a medical board investigation, you are familiar with the term consent order. It’s the formal and finalized agreement between you and the state medical board in a civil matter in which you don’t admit to any guilt but agree to act out the agreement.
The medical board consent order is also called the medical board consent decree.
Leading up to a Consent Order
The goal of your attorney is to get you the most favorable consent order possible.
My own was a 30-day license suspension back in 2018, which was more favorable than the state medical board suggested license termination.
For many physicians, it might be probation or obtaining a practice monitor. For others, you might have to enter a PHP which is a physician health program.
Anatomy of a Consent Order
On your state medical board website, you can find all prior consent decrees for other physicians. These are public. And yes, yours will also be public.
Because it will be public, you and your attorney must work on the wording.
These are the details of the event which transpired for which you were under investigation.
In this stipulation section of the consent order, you’ll have various factors such as professional misconduct, lack of documentation, clinical misconduct, etc.
If you cooperate with the state medical board they will place you on probation to monitor your improvement.
The probation intends to quickly suspend or terminate your medical license if you don’t abide by all the stipulations.
Should the state medical board get audited because a physician later does something heinous, they can show that in previous instances, they agreed to a less harsh punishment because of these mitigation strategies and characteristics.
I, for example, didn’t cooperate with my medical board investigation because I was convinced that what I did for the patient was the right thing to do.
Usually, when placed on probation, your consent order will require you to submit quarterly reports or attend a boundaries course.
I attended a professionalism boundaries course at UCSD. I had to pay for it myself and it wasn’t cheap.
It’s not just the conditions spelled out in your decree but everything else you must do perfectly. You will be under the microscope for some years to come.
You signed the state medical board consent order, which means you agreed to the terms.
When I consult with physicians who need help navigating the stipulated terms of the consent decree, they are often bewildered that things have been finalized.
Some will vehemently deny having agreed to something. But, again, the signatures are there.
Dates and Deadlines
The best way for a state medical board to terminate your medical license is to show that you didn’t comply with their deadlines.
Your consent order will have dates and timelines spelled out. I know navigating this is overwhelming because you’re still busy living the rest of your life, but some medical boards are looking for these oversights.
Navigating the Consent Decree
I recommend starting with a spreadsheet and writing down all the deadlines and conditions you must meet.
The proceeding columns should include a date and what needs to be done.
Next, you’ll need to reach out to all relevant parties. Perhaps you must attend a professionalism course, take further CMEs or hire a practice monitor.
Find out who your contact is at the state medical board. This is the person you’ll exchange emails with, receiving confirmation that you’ve done everything according to their standards.
Some state medical boards will be punitive. Others will do their best to work with you and genuinely want you to succeed. The wording in your consent order will clarify which side of the fence they are on.
Regardless, your goal is to meet all the deadlines until you can successfully get out from under their radar.