Often OPMC will negotiate with a physician to try to settle an issue through a Consent Order that includes some type of probation. This may in fact be a fair and reasonable maneuver because going to a Hearing might end up with a result that is far worse than what is included in the probation. However, there can be very dangerous side effects to agreeing to this type of resolution. What I am discussing is the rules of the physician’s Certification Board regarding probation. To demonstrate what I mean, below is a portion of the rules of the American Board of Pediatrics, ABP, as they apply to probation.
- Should a medical license become restricted, revoked, or suspended at any time during the certification period, the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) shall undertake proceedings consistent with due process to revoke the certificate(s). Physicians are responsible for notifying the ABP of any restriction placed on a medical license held, and such notification must occur within 60 days of a final action taken by an authorized agency. Upon successful reinstatement or remedy of the encumbered medical license, and upon the ABP being notified of such by the former diplomate, and subsequent verification of such by the ABP, certification may be regained by successful completion of the maintenance of certification process.
- A physician’s license shall be deemed “restricted” for purposes of this policy if, as a result of final action by a State or other legally constituted Medical Board (hereafter “State Medical Board”), the physician:
- Shall have had his/her license revoked or surrendered his/her license in lieu of revocation.
- Shall have had his/her license suspended for a specified period of time and the suspension is still in effect.
- May have been placed on probation and the probationary period had not expired.
- May have been made subject to special conditions or requirements which are still in effect (including, but not limited to, supervision, chaperoning during the examination of patients, additional training beyond that required of physicians for the maintenance of licensure), and regardless of whether or not such conditions or requirements are imposed by order of the State Medical Board or are the result of a voluntary agreement between the physician and the State Medical Board.
As you can see, the ABP requires that the physician notify the Board within 60 days of any “restriction” placed on the doctor’s license. Further, the license will be deemed “restricted” for several reasons including if the physician has been placed on probation. When the ABP receives notice of the “restriction” it “…shall undertake proceedings consistent with due process to revoke the certificate.” If your board certification is revoked there might be other very unpleasant consequences. For instance, before you go down this road check with the rules of your hospital. In some cases the hospital rules will say that any physician who is either employed by the hospital or who is on the attending staff must be either board eligible or board certified. If this is the case and if your certifying board has rules like the ABP, you will have agreed to probation, then your board certification will be revoked and then you will lose either your job at the hospital or will be denied attending privileges at the hospital as you will be neither certified nor eligible. This would obviously be an economic disaster which you might not have anticipated.
The lesson to be learned is that dealing with OPMC can be a very dangerous proposition and you must understand all of the possible ramifications of every agreement you might agree to. Experience in the field cannot be over emphasized.