Health professionals invest significant amounts of time and money into building and maintaining their careers.
Aside from getting into medical school or studying a specific subject at college, doctors, surgeons, pharmacists and other professionals working in the medical or health sector must also meet continual professional development and educational requirements throughout their careers.
In life, however, mistakes can and do arise which for a health professional can jeopardize their career and livelihood. Whether it’s a medical malpractice accusation or a violation of ethics, the risk of a medical license being revoked is ever-present in this field. Learn more here.
If you are a medical professional who has been accused of wrongdoing it is advisable to consult an experienced attorney such as California Healthcare License Defense Attorney, Nicole Irmer who can advise you of your rights, evaluate the best course of action and help you address any issues that may threaten your license.
In this article, we will look at some of the common reasons for disciplinary action against medical professionals and the steps you can take to protect yourself.
Why Are Licenses Revoked?
If a medical license has been revoked by a state medical licensing board, the medical professional in question can no longer practice medicine within that state. Of all the disciplinary actions that can be taken, this is the most damaging to an individual’s career.
According to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), a total of 237 medical licenses were revoked in the U.S. in 2021. There are a number of reasons why this may happen with some of the most common beings:
- Substandard care: Failure to provide a patient with a standard of care that is expected from the medical professional can lead to medical errors and allegations of medical malpractice. According to a study by John Hopkins University, medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., resulting in over 250,000 deaths each year.
- Substance Abuse: Practicing medicine while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or the abuse of these substances can greatly affect an individual’s ability to provide proper care for their patients and is likely to result in oversights and mistakes, which may endanger their patients’ health. Such actions are often grounds for disciplinary action, which may lead to the revocation of an individual’s license.
- Inappropriate Conduct: A medical professional may face allegations of sexual misconduct, such as harassment or assault, brought against them by a patient or member of staff. They may also be deemed to engage in inappropriate conduct if they start a sexual or romantic relationship with a patient. Threatening, disrespectful or disruptive words or actions may also be considered inappropriate conduct.
- Misuse of Prescription Drugs: A medical professional may be accused of unlawfully prescribing or dispensing medications for personal use or for others. Testing positive for an unlawful drug or failing to adequately supervise a patient’s use of prescribed medication may also lead to a licensing board taking disciplinary action.
In addition to the above, other reasons for revoking an individual’s medical license may include healthcare fraud, ethical violations such as accepting kickbacks, inadequate medical documentation, and criminal convictions.
Steps to Protect Yourself
While it may not be possible to prevent an allegation from being made against you, there are certain steps you can take to ensure your actions are defensible and less likely to lead to a substantiated claim or the revocation of your license.
By talking to your patients and taking the time to understand and address their questions and concerns, you can develop a good doctor-patient relationship with them which will reduce the chances of any misunderstandings or problems occurring in the future.
Good communication between both parties will ensure your patients understand the options before them and are made aware of any side effects or complications from their treatment or medications.
This ensures all relevant information has been recorded and makes it easier for other medical professionals to assume treatment for a patient, reducing the chance of an error occurring. It is good practice to document the following information:
- Patient history
- Findings from a patient examination
- Reasons for a diagnosis
- The recommended course of treatment
- Information is given to a patient regarding their treatment
- Patient progress report
Make sure to arrange a follow-up on your patient’s progress to see how they are doing and to check there are no complications following their treatment. Doing so not only offers a better patient experience but is the best line of defense in catching any issues early, limiting the chances of a malpractice complaint.
By following the guidance in this article, you can ensure you are delivering the best level of healthcare to your patients while protecting your medical license.