Mutual Matters

When the Medical Board Calls…..Don’t Panic

Posted by Georgette Samaritan, RN, BSN, CPHRM on Jun 30, 2016 12:30:00 PM
When you receive a medical board inquiry, it's the letter all physicians dread. Now, what do you do? Panic? Throw the letter away? Call and confront the complainant with this accusation and try to talk them out of it? Call your fellow physicians to get their support on the factual or expert issues which might be involved? Go on vacation and deal with it later? Alter or destroy the medical record?shutterstock_216231085.jpg

The answer is: absolutely do none of the above.

Instead, please strongly consider applying the following tips when you are first contacted by the Medical Board. Timely preparation and response will be most important to your well-being and ultimate success in responding to a medical board inquiry.

1. Don’t panic, but don’t relax either

Licensing board complaints against physicians may be filed by anyone who interacts with a physician. Contrary to popular myth, there is no need for the medical board to have probable cause prior to conducting an investigation of a physician. The medical board must take all complaints seriously; clinical and non clinical complaints may be investigated. However frivolous you deem the complaint, and regardless of whether a records request or an interview letter is initially issued, you should be aware that your license, your livelihood and, possibly, your personal freedom are at risk. A medical board complaint, which results in certain types of discipline, can result in the loss of hospital or prescribing privileges. 

2. Contact MagMutual or your professional liability carrier

We will secure a skilled and knowledgeable attorney for you. Your attorney will help you with the initial response to a letter and/or records request, and will represent you at every juncture. Your attorney can also steer you away from making mistakes with far-reaching consequences. In a recent case the physician was asked for all writings about or concerning the patient, some of which were potentially protected by the attorney-client privilege or work-product-rule. These records were not produced, because the attorney notified the Board that given these legal privileges, they would not be produced absent a court order. If those writings had been produced by a self-represented physician, not knowing otherwise, it could have made a significant difference in his defense of the complaint. Additionally, if you have been found guilty of wrongdoing, your attorney may be able to help scale down the Board’s action by suggesting less serious disciplinary actions.

When the medical board calls there is no need to panic. Simply contact your insurance carrier and let them guide you through the process. 

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