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You protect yourself against medical malpractice, but are you protected against medical board complaints?
Editor’s note: In celebration of another successful year, Physicians Practice is re-running the five most-read stories in 2022. We wish you a happy holiday season, and we’ll see you in 2023.
Physicians plan and insure against the possibility of a medical malpractice suit. However, they often overlook another serious threat to their livelihood: a medical board complaint. Here are some common causes of complaints and the risks and process involved.
While most doctors are primarily concerned about a medical malpractice suit, a medical board complaint on its own can significantly disrupt your income - and even end a career. It is vital to have the right coverage at the right limits before a complaint is filed against you.
Unlike an actual medical malpractice suit, a patient can easily file a board complaint at little or no cost. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) provides significant guidance to physicians and medical boards in all 50 states. It also provides some very specific guidance to patients on when, and how, to file complaints against physicians.
Complaints can result in fines, reputational damage, license suspension or limitations and even complete license revocation. So, while the results may not be as devastating as a seven-figure lawsuit judgment against the wealth you have already amassed, it can take away your future ability to earn more. For many physicians, this is their biggest asset.
A medical board complaint may accompany or precede a more onerous medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical board complaint legal defense costs are not always covered by your medical malpractice insurance. It’s a policy specific question, and I advise physicians to make sure they know, at a minimum, the following important details about their coverage:
According to the FMSB, medical boards sort and prioritize complaints, fast-tracking adjudication of those complaints that present the possibility of imminent patient harm. Such claims logically include instances of physicians allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct with patients, deviation from the accepted standard of medical care in a state and practicing under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Some causes common standard-of care complaints include:
This can be a long and complex process and often involves legal representation. How long a particular case takes depends on how many of the following steps are required to resolve it. Watch the dates carefully, as you have a specific and limited amount of time to respond.
We’ve covered some basics on the risks, causes of complaints and the resulting complaint process. In our next discussion, an attorney who practices in the area of professional discipline and defends doctors in these proceedings shares some specific tips we hope you never need.
Ike Devji, JD, has practiced law exclusively in the areas of asset protection, risk management and wealth preservation for the last 16 years. He helps protect a national client base with more than $5 billion in personal assets, including several thousand physicians. He is a contributing author to multiple books for physicians and a frequent medical conference speaker and CME presenter. Learn more at www.ProAssetProtection.com.