Healthcare delivery is the most heavily regulated industry in the United States, and compliance with all the laws, rules and regulations is onerous. Healthcare professionals must be competent and fit to practice, maintain appropriate relationships with patients, hospitals and other industry players, comply with terms and conditions of provider agreements and employment contracts, and be otherwise constantly vigilant in a myriad other ways about many regulatory, business and legal pitfalls. When mishaps occur, licensing boards and peer review bodies can make life very difficult for even an unsuspecting health care professional.
Physician licensing matters can crop up at any time during a doctor's career, jeopardizing a physician’s reputation and livelihood. Consequences of inattention to these matters can include loss or suspension of your license, discontinuation of insurance network membership, or exorbitant fines and other financial penalties. Under no circumstances should a healthcare provider attempt to handle an investigation or inquiry from a licensing body, no matter how minor, without professional help. As experienced healthcare attorneys, we provide quality representation and licensure defense and advocacy to physicians faced with disciplinary actions by a state board licensing agency, a hospital or medical staff peer-review committee, a compensation commission, or a criminal prosecuting entity. Keep in mind that the licensing bodies understand the seriousness of their inquiries and will not deem the involvement of counsel as an indication of guilt on the professional’s behalf.
State licensure laws, administered by medical boards, direct the licensure process and regulate the professional component of medical practices. Besides general licensing requirements and qualifications such as the minimum education and training required for procurement of an initial license, state medical practice acts specify conduct/behavior of a physician or licensee that constitutes professional incompetence. Violation or noncompliance with these standards may result in suspension, revocation, nonrenewal, limitation or censure of a physician’s license and even civil and criminal penalties.
Examples of professional misconduct include: physical abuse of patient, inadequate recordkeeping, not recognizing or acting on common symptoms, failing to meet continuing medical education requirements, performing duties beyond the scope of a license, etc.
Apart from the penalties imposed by law, physicians convicted of a crime may be subject to additional sanctions that affect their medical license, participation in Medicaid and Medicare, third-party payer panel membership and hospital privileges. A physician is guilty of professional misconduct if he/she is convicted of a crime under New York State or federal law or under the law of another jurisdiction if the act would have been a crime in New York had it occurred in the state. The conviction need not be related to the practice of medicine in order for it to become the basis for action against a doctor’s license. Thus, physicians have been disciplined for failing to file income taxes, trespassing, making a false statement on a loan application, carrying an unregistered firearm, filing a false tax return and assault.
The state licensing board has wide discretion in the matter of revocation of licenses. It has power to initiate disciplinary action against a physician even in the absence of any complaints from the patients. The board may take action even in the case of a single act of violation and even in the absence of proof of injury.
Many of the key laws and regulations that govern physician activity are complicated and require a thorough understanding of the physician’s or medical group’s activity. Legal counsel should be consulted for specific interpretations of restrictions and duties placed upon physicians by state statutes and regulations. Counsel can ensure that healthcare professionals are practicing within the scope of their respective licenses and not engaging in the unauthorized or unlicensed practice of medicine.
Our lawyers understand the seriousness of disciplinary matters and seek to intervene early and aggressively to protect our clients' licenses and ability to practice medicine. Physicians who believe they are being investigated or may be investigated should contact an attorney quickly to protect themselves. With the assistance of our attorneys, physicians are frequently able to fend off actions that could lead to the loss of a medical license. If disciplinary action has been commenced, we can provide a strong defense. If a medical license has been suspended, we can help you get your license back, so you can get back to your career.
We regularly help clients with forms relating to initial licensure and license renewals. We are aware of and able to navigate the licensure restrictions placed by New York and New Jersey medical boards and can help physicians understand their various nuances. Moreover, we can help you evaluate whether certain conduct is performed or taken in accordance with state licensing laws. While we do not practice medicine, we can certainly make sure that you are in the best legal position to do so by guiding you in professional medical licensing matters.