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Medical Board Accusations

Contra Costa County Lawyer for Medical Board Accusations

MEDICINE CAN BE A MINEFIELD – WE CAN HELP !

What are the Hot Button Issues for Medical Board Accusations?

The Medical Board of California's annual report gives a statistical breakdown of areas of complaints and board action.  The short version is that alcohol issues (which in our experience arise out of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) arrests and criminal conduct (mostly fraud complaints) are a significant area of concern to the board.  Opioid prescriptions are a close competitor.  However Gross Negligence in medical practice is the # 1 factor.

What Constitutes “Gross Negligence” to the Medical Board?

What are the Hot Practice Areas for Malpractice Judgment Reporting?

 Malpractice awards that are reportable predictably cluster in the surgery, OB, ER and general practice areas.  With few exceptions, any medical malpractice judgment, arbitration award or settlement over $30,000 must be reported even if multiple attorneys are grouped under a single settlement amount. 

 Call Our Medical Board Lawyers at Even a Hint of Trouble

Our medical board lawyers aim to stop Accusations before they are filed.   How many patients have you had who ignored clear warning signs - to their detriment?  As lawyers for doctors we can tell you this.  Doctors are guilty of the same process.  If you call at the first hint of discord some simple advice might avoid a big problem.  Or not … but it is certainly wise to try!

Your Decades of Training only give you a “Privilege” to Practice Medicine

Medical board accusations are a shocking reminder that the practice of medicine is considered a privilege and not a right.  In less than one year, an Accusation can strip you of your right to practice medicine.   A malpractice claim settled in your name can lead a listing in the NPDB (National Practitioner Data Bank) even when you were simply around and named as one of many defendants.  You thought the medical malpractice lawyer was settling to protect you …. but the lawyer protected the insurance company.  And guess what?  The insurance company wasn't reported to the NPDB, you were.   

805 Reports Can Happen in the Blink of the Eye

Medical Staff can suspend a doctor without a hearing.  A summary suspension is usually made behind closed doors through the Medical Executive Committee (MEC) or other person authorized by the by-laws to take such action. (It can be the Chief of Staff for example).   

The medical executive committee (MEC) will generally pressure the physician to resign or negotiate some surrender of privileges during the 14 day summary suspension clock.   California requires a medical board report (called an 805 Report) no later than 15 days after the doctor suffers a summary suspension of privileges.

It is possible during the 14 day clock to negotiate something less onerous than a reportable termination or resignation.  PIP's (Performance Improvement Plans) and other non-terminating options may be offered but these carry their own burdens.

And Yes, a doctor always has the right to contest an adverse action through a peer review committee.

We strongly urge doctors to obtain expert legal advice during this 14 day period.  The MEC and medical staff policy makers expect you to retain counsel.  Hospital administration does very little without advice of counsel and they expect you to do the same.

The Horowitz medical practice group understands negotiation and litigation.  Top trial lawyer Daniel Horowitz and physician-lawyer Dr. Mark Ravis (license is active) have an excellent track record.

Unfair Discipline and Unfair Reporting Follows You for Years

Doctors sadly learn, that decades of dedication can be taken from a physician in less than a year.  Even if you maintain your license a medical board action can burden your career forever.  Physicians face ancillary penalties that include reporting to the National Practitioner Data Bank, reporting in public databases, reporting on the medical board website and long term damage to your reputation.

Self reporting of medical actions kick in when you apply for privileges, change jobs or apply for a business loan or malpractice insurance. 

The Medical Board of California Telegraphs its Hot Button Disciplinary Issues

Medical license lawyers know that the most common California Medical Board Accusations can be reviewed on their Accusation Filed Web page.  We subscribe to this list and review each Accusation.   This means that an attorney for doctors is part lawyer and part political pundit.  Sometimes the politics are easy to anticipate.  When the lawyers and Attorney Generals started targeting the opioid pharma companies, we knew that individual doctors were next.  We reached out to doctors who were already clients and warned them of the upcoming tidal wave of discipline.

There are trends that you can note with consulting a medical lawyer. As we said, Opioid prescriptions were a hot topic.  Sexual misconduct is another major area of inquiry.  Failures of patient care are not uncommon and the Horowitz Medical team includes a lawyer/doctor (Dr Mark Ravis) and paralegal chiropractor (Michael Yates) to review quality of care issues - in house.  We can then consult with top medical experts to assemble the proper defense team.  

SOURCES OF COMPLAINTS TO MEDICAL BOARD

Complaints typically arise from other physicians, disgruntled employees and patients. Ongoing investigations of other physicians may involve your office (perhaps as a referral source) or some of your patients. Opioid complaints have been coming from insurance companies and pharmacies. If you get a warning letter from either, contact an attorney right away.

Other complaints are more obvious. Suspensions, denials of privileges, arrests can all trigger board investigations. There is little consistency between states except on issues like opiate prescriptions, DME or Genetic Testing remote chart review and other issues that have a national publicity aspect to them.

As an example, some states are very harsh on substance abuse by MD’s. Others look for a treatment option as the first choice. But beware agencies that administer these programs. Once you enter their world of supervision, they own your soul.

Contra Costa County's Best Physician Defense Team

Our physician defense lawyers include physician lawyer Dr. Mark Ravis and trial lawyer Daniel HorowitzOksana Tyskova is an experienced trial lawyer with two physician parents.  Karina Johnson (formerly working with Charles Bond at Physicians Advocates) has over a decade experience with highly technical medical-legal matters.   

We travel statewide to defend doctors with many cases in the Walnut Creek area, Los Angeles and San Diego.   

Our physician legal team is expert in the three key phases of medical board defense. 

Phase 1 is blocking the filing of an accusation.  You need to contact us as soon as you suspect that the medical board is investigating you. We can, at times either stop the filing of an accusation or negotiate a resolution that protects your privacy and your medical license.

Phase 2 takes place after the medical board accusation is filed.  At this stage we raise technical defenses and assemble counter evidence to obtain a fair resolution (and at times a dismissal of the charges).

Phase 3 is the trial state.  If a case cannot resolve we are among the most experienced trial lawyers in the medical defense field.  We have defended clients in 1000's of contested evidentiary hearings and Daniel Horowitz has completed over 200 jury trials.   There is no substitute for experience in the courtroom.  You can analogize courtroom experience with the experience of a surgeon in the OR.  More is usually better.

 

Major Triggers of Medical Board Inquiries

Healthcare fraud investigations by state or federal agencies are often done in partnership with the state medical board.

Health Care Fraud covers a very wide range of conduct but in general consists of conduct done with the intent to deceive a state, federal or private health care payor so that the payor provides money or benefits that are not justified. The FBI is the primary federal agency for investigating health care fraud and the scope of their authority includes federally funded programs and private insurance programs as well. Certain states such as California, have very active state run health care fraud investigatory agencies such as the department of insurance.

Medical Board Investigations may have a criminal aspect.  Read our blog on the intersection of the administrative and criminal functions of the medical board.

To view California Medical Board Disciplinary Actions use this link to the Medical Board recent License Actions page.

ACCUSATIONS

The term “Accusation” is archaic and it includes actions against doctors with medical problems that interfere with practice. It is generally “accusatory” and the mere filing of a medical board accusation damages your reputation permanently.

Checking on whether a physician has been simply accused is easy. Finding the records of discipline is likewise easy. Here is a story by CBS News that has a drop down menu that allows anyone to search state databases to review physician discipline. Attorneys representing doctors often comment on the incredible harm and peril that physicians face by board actions and MEC Committee / peer review. The result matters but the harm is caused simply by the accusation.

If you are under attack you are in great peril for long term harm. We try to work miracles (and as a physician you have the same orientation) but the cold hard reality is that even the most experienced and talented physician’s lawyer is fighting against tremendous odds. More than many, physician clients have more to lose than the normal professional under similar circumstances.

On the other side of these medical board, peer review and other hostile action cases, the governmental entities, medical groups, peer review groups and hospitals generally feel impervious to any counter attack.

We hear many attorneys and doctors denigrate the hospital attorneys. We respectfully disagree. The attorneys for “the other side” are generally not hacks. Most are highly skilled, very well trained and well paid. You cannot underestimate them and if you are your attorney underestimate these corporate lawyers, you do so at your personal peril.

With this honest caveats, I can and will provide you with an exceptionally high level of expertise and genuine caring for you and your future. My teams focus on ending the stress and pressure and reviving your dreams and vision for your future.

 

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