I was recently looking over the OPMC website when I came across a physician who managed to get himself sanctioned for a situation which was completely preventable. It all started when an elderly gentleman fell in a store and injured his leg. The man went to the doctor and received treatment. The man then retained a lawyer to bring a lawsuit against the store and the lawyer sent a letter and an authorization to the doctor to obtain a copy of the doctor’s medical records. The doctor sent a letter to the lawyer and said the fee for the records was $100.00. The record was 45 pages long and there is a law which states that the charge for medical records can only be $.75 per page. Accordingly, the charge to the lawyer should have been $33.75. The doctor refused to take anything less than $100.00. OPMC then got involved and wrote to the doctor, but the doctor never provided the records.
The refusal resulted in OPMC issuing charges against the doctor. The doctor, for reasons unknown, did not answer the charges and therefore the claims against him were deemed admitted. On the day of the Hearing the doctor asked, by letter, for an adjournment, but that request was denied. The Hearing then proceeded with the documents in the file as the evidence along with the testimony of the lawyer. The doctor did not appear at the Hearing. The result was that the doctor was found guilty of unprofessional conduct. The penalty was that his license was suspended for three months, with the suspension being stayed, and he was put on probation for three years. Additionally, he was fined $10,000 and if he does not pay the fine he will not be able to renew his medical license when it is up for renewal.
So, what are the actual consequences of this sanction? For certain the doctor will pay $10,000 because he wanted to be paid $66.25 more than he was permitted to be paid under the law for a patient’s medical record. Also, every time he renews his hospital privileges, applies to another hospital, applies to an HMO, applies for liability insurance, etc, he will have to report that he was sanctioned by OPMC. Also, the sanction will be forever be visible on OPMC’s website for the general public to see.
What is the lesson to be learned? If you are a physician, you cannot simply ignore the laws of the state and if you do you are going to pay a very steep price. Here, if the doctor had spoken to any experienced OPMC lawyer he would have been told to send the records immediately to the patient’s lawyer and had he done so all of this would have been avoided. Sometimes arrogance clouds one’s mind and that can lead to a very unpleasant and totally unnecessary result.