AN ADDITIONAL UNPLEASANT RESULT FROM SIGNING A CONSENT ORDER WITH THE OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL CONDUCT (OPMC)
I recently was called by a physician who had experienced a very, very unpleasant bit of collateral damage after signing a Consent Order with OPMC. The Order called for a probationary period and a practice monitor who was to report every three months to OPMC as to the quality of the physician’s practice. This is a very common type of Order and it allows the physician to go on with his/her profession without having any type of suspension at all. But, these Orders are all published on the National Practitioner’s Data Base and are therefore viewed by Medicare/Medicaid, HMOs, prospective employers and by the physician’s certifying Board. In this case, the unforeseen damage was delivered by this doctor’s Board.
About a month after the Order was signed and disseminated, the physician received a letter from his Board which told him that because of the Consent Order the doctor was no longer “certified” by his Board. He was also advised that he would have to retake his Board exam, but the exam is not available for about another eight months. So, the doctor had to remove all references to his Board Certification from his office, his on-line information and from his stationary. This problem was significant, as is obvious, but it was compounded when the doctor realized that one of the items required for him to take this Board exam was that he had to have performed a set number of a particular type of surgical procedures. The issue here is that this doctor has not done that type of procedure for many years as he limited his practice to a different aspect of medical/surgical care. This wrinkle makes it very difficult for the doctor to satisfy this surgical requirement and therefore he might very well be unable to take the exam when it is next given and therefore he might have to wait for an additional year or more, to be able to sit for the exam. He will have to now try to rework his practice to do these types of surgical procedures so that he can obtain the required number to be eligible to take the test. Until he can take the exam, he will not be Board Certified.
The lesson to be learned here is that you and your attorney must do their level best to try to determine the possible collateral damage that comes after a seemingly benign Consent Order is signed. You must be ready to deal with these types of possible unpleasant consequences.