It takes more than a decade of preparation to become a physician in most cases. Physicians attend medical school because state licensing boards require medical degrees. Obtaining a license to practice medicine also requires that someone pass a lengthy test. Yet, after getting a license, a physician is constantly at risk of losing their ability to practice medicine. They must maintain their license, a process that requires regular renewals. Physicians continue to educate themselves about advances in medicine and must stay in good standing with their community to maintain their licenses.
Receiving a letter from the Medical Board of California about possible disciplinary matters is a frightening prospect. Does a physician facing accusations of unprofessional conduct or disciplinary action related to pending criminal charges need to worry about the loss of their medical license?
Licensing penalties are possible
The Medical Board of California hears many disciplinary cases each month, usually only after conducting an internal investigation to validate the allegations against a physician. Many of them involve minor infractions, like continuing to practice medicine when a license temporarily expires. The penalties the Board may hand down range from formal reprimands and financial penalties to suspending or revoking someone’s license.
The history of the physician, the nature of the accusations against them and their response to those accusations all influence what penalties a physician faces. The Medical Board can choose to punish a doctor if the disciplinary review affirms that they engaged in unprofessional conduct or violated the law. Sometimes, properly handling criminal charges can reduce the likelihood of licensing penalties for medical professionals.
Other times, they may need to actively defend against accusations at a disciplinary hearing. In theory, physicians facing disciplinary issues have the right to legal representation. They can have a lawyer assist them when responding to criminal charges and also represent them during disciplinary matters. Attorneys can sometimes facilitate the dismissal of criminal charges or help someone respond in a way that reduces the possibility of professional consequences.
Given that someone’s multi-year investment in their medical career could be at risk in a worst-case scenario, responding assertively to potential disciplinary matters is of the utmost importance. Reviewing the situation that led to accusations against a physician with a lawyer familiar with such matters can help with the preparation of a strong license defense strategy.