The authority in New York State who oversees regulation and discipline of licensed physicians practicing in New York is the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC). This agency has the authority to investigate and penalize physicians who are found guilty of professional misconduct. New York OPMC Attorneys at Joseph Potashnik and Associates, PC, have represented many New York physicians as they faced OPMC inquiries and discipline with numerous successful outcomes.
Often, physicians are unaware of the existence of the OPMC, and then they become acutely aware when they are contacted by an official from the office. Most doctors graduated from medical school without ever have taken such subjects as professional discipline. It behooves physicians facing an OPMC investigation to realize that they could suffer such consequences as the loss of their license to practice or severe restrictions. You may not believe you are guilty of misconduct, but nonetheless, any inquiry and subsequent launch of investigation should be taken extremely seriously at the start. You should get in touch with a qualified health care defense attorney as soon as you can. Indeed, your livelihood and career could be at risk, and you cannot afford to underestimate the gravity of the situation.
A thorough explanation of professional misconduct must include a broad range of activities of varying degrees of gravity. Activities including negligent practice of medicine, practicing areas of medicine one is not qualified or authorized to practice, and practicing medicine under the influence of alcohol or drugs can draw charges of professional misconduct. Also fraud and misrepresentation involving a doctor’s medical license or authorization to practice, false advertising, unethical financial dealings, including unequitable fee-splitting and referral arrangements are another category of misconduct. In addition, the violation of any of the numerous laws and regulations governing public health, proper disclosures, physician advertising, or medical records could be considered misconduct. Some physicians who get convicted of a crime could indeed also be subject to professional discipline. Lawyers from our NY OPMC office can assist.
These OPMC investigations are often initiated because a complaint against a physician that alleges misconduct arrives at its office. Grievances that accuse named physicians financial fraud, alcohol or drug abuse, or sexual impropriety become top priority. During an investigation, the OPMC have the authority to subpoena records, interview potential witnesses, and offer the physician an interview.
The question of if you should speak with an investigator is a critical one, keeping in mind that whatever information you give during the investigation will be used against you. Accordingly, physicians in this situation are advised to consult an experienced medical license defense attorney forthwith first receiving notification of an impending investigation. A good lawyer can advise you of your rights and obligations in providing information, and weight out your case to help figure out the course of action. Refrain from responding or offering any records before consulting with your attorney; in addition to possibly damaging your own case, releasing some kinds of information may in itself be a violation. You should also refuse to speak with OPMC investigators outside of the presence of your attorney.
If the OPMC contacts you with an offer of an interview, just know that this is a lot more formal than it sounds. You have the right to be represented by an attorney and to have a stenographer present. All statements you make can be used against you not only in the investigation at hand but also in subsequent investigations and criminal prosecutions. More charges could also be brought based on statements you make during this interview. In the first place, this interview is not compulsory. Your attorney will consider all the facts of your case and advise you as to whether or not an interview will benefit you. It is never advisable to give an interview without an lawyer.
Upon completion of the investigation, the OPMC investigative committee can close the matter, request further investigation, issue an administrative warning, require a mandatory physical or psychiatric evaluation, or recommend the filing of a formal action. An administrative warning is confidential and is not counted as evidence that the physician was found guilty of whatever misconduct he was accused of; nonetheless, in case of future allegations involving the same category of misconduct, the earlier matter could be reopened. Formal action could include suspension of medical license, being required to temporarily surrender the license, or subsequent filing of formal misconduct charges.
In the event that formal charges are filed, your hearing must be initiated within 60 days before a panel. Ahead of the hearing, both the physician and OPMC can obtain discovery from the other side, including names of witnesses, copies of documentary evidence, and a list and description of any physical evidence. At any point before the hearing occurs, the parties could also arrive at a settlement. Speak to your attorney before agreeing to anything they offer, because there are several innocuous-seeming terms could have serious consequences. Appeals from the panel’s determination can be made to the Administrative Review Board (ARB) or directly to the Appellate Division; the Appellate Division will also hear an appeal from the ARB’s decision.
Discipline for physicians who are found guilty of the charges against them could include revocation of license, conditional or unconditional suspension of license, partial suspension of license, annulment of license, fines, and mandatory additional training.
Physicians who face allegations of professional misconduct should call an experienced health care lawyer as soon as they receive notice. Giving up information or statements to investigators without legal counsel can badly weaken your case and even possibly put your medical license at risk. The medical license defense attorneys at our firm represent doctors at every point on the journey. Our acquaintance with New York State laws and procedures gives us the ability to weigh the specific circumstances of your case and arrive at the most effective strategy to mount a strong defense.
Our experienced OPMC lawyers have been supporting New York physicians in all licensing matters including license defense and reinstatement, hospital privileges, professional Boards matters, and more. You are welcome to call our office today to speak with an attorney about your situation.
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