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Medical malpractice is complex, and the laws are not always in favor of the medical professional and their professional license when someone files a formal complaint against a medical professional. When the complaint alleges a doctor has violated a state law or the oath they took as a medical professional, their license is at risk. Losing a medical license after so many years in school and such an expense is devastating to a medical professional, which is why no one cares to risk this occurring. A formal investigation could result in a fine, suspension or revocation.
Loss of a Medical License
Any doctor accused of any of the following automatically loses their medical license if evidence points to the truth behind each complaint.
– Medically assisted suicide: If a doctor helps a patient end his or her life at their request, it’s immediate grounds for the revocation of the doctor’s license without hope of it ever being reinstated.
– Prescribing medication outside a specialty: Doctors take an oath to handle only patients who fall into their specialty. A gynecologist who prescribes antidepressants to patients with depression is prescribing drugs outside his or her specialty, which puts patients at risk.
– Drug or alcohol abuse: Doctors who abuse drugs and alcohol aren’t always going to lose their license. Many are given a chance to seek help for their addiction while their licenses are suspended or they are on probation. Upon successful completion of rehab and a recommendation from their doctor, they can begin reinstating their license to work again. However, repeat offenders or someone who has operated on a patient while under the influence puts their license at risk forever.
– Negligence: A doctor who is accused of negligent behavior that puts the life of his or her patients at risk will lose his license.
– Doctor Impersonation: A doctor, nurse, physician assistant or anyone in the medical field who misrepresents him or herself as another doctor or as a doctor of a specialty they are not licensed in is immediately going to lose his or her medical license.
When someone files a complaint against a medical professional, it typically falls into a number of common categories.
– Substance abuse
– Sexual misconduct
– Healthcare/billing fraud
– Prescription abuse
– Improper treatment
Not all complaints result in the loss of a license even if they are eventually substantiated by the investigator on the case. There are several reasons this occurs. The first is the doctor is able to successfully argue that while something inappropriate did happen and he or she is guilty, it was an accident they were unaware of at the time. A doctor who is being investigated for billing fraud, for example, might argue they were not trying to overbill a patient to make more money, they simply checked off the wrong boxes or transcribed incorrect information from one patient’s chart to another patient’s medical records
A doctor accused of substance abuse does have a chance to seek help, but they might face suspension for some time. If a license is cited or suspended, there is always a chance the medical professional’s attorney can work on reinstating the license at some point. If a doctor is accused of criminal activity that results in a felony charge in a court of law, his or her license is immediately revoked, it cannot be reinstated, and fines, restitution, and prison time are possible.
The legal ramifications of a doctor or other medical professional found guilty of a felony varies based on the charges, the severity of the felony, and the type of felony. Additionally, fines and prison time are based on the number of charges a doctor is found guilty of.
When a formal complaint is filed with the Massachusetts Medical Board, medical professionals are notified. They are required to respond to the complaint, and adhere to the terms of the investigation at all times. An attorney with knowledge and experience representing medical professionals under investigation for any offense that might cause them to lose their license is the best chance medical professionals have when defending their case. Knowledge of the law is pertinent when a license is at stake.