Your client has his/her ability to practice medicine restored after a substance abuse rehabilitation, but does the clients board ccertification still exist?
I recently represented a physician through a two plus year rehabilitation period and after a Hearing with the New York State Department of Health, The Office of Professional Medical Conduct, OPMC, the ability of the physician to practice medicine was restored. The physician then set about obtaining employment and in that process had to fill out certain documents with questions concerning the doctor’s Board Certification.
This was seemingly not an issue as the doctor was certified back in 1978 and therefore had the Certification for life, without the need for any additional test taking. However, a massive problem suddenly raised its ugly head when the doctor checked the Board website and saw that “not certified” was stated beside his/her name. This was a shock to the doctor because it meant that no one was going to hire him/her without the Certification.
The first question was how did this happen? The answer was that the Board was aware of the Consent Order that prevented the doctor from practicing due to the substance abuse and revoked the Certification because of this without advising the doctor of the action.
This was a catastrophe for the doctor and it was made worse when the Board told the doctor that, basically, this was just too bad and nothing could or would be done.
The doctor advised me of this situation and I said that I felt this was truly not right as basically the doctor had a medical condition, substance addiction, and that condition had been successfully treated and therefore the Board Certification had to be reinstated. The doctor called the Board the day we spoke and made this argument to the Board. Thankfully, the Board readjusted its thinking and immediately reinstated the doctor’s Certification. This allowed the doctor to go on to be employed again as a physician.
I was worried that the Board would refuse to listen to reason and that a very expensive court battle would have been necessary to rectify this problem. And I am not at all certain that another Board will be as reasonable in another case, so all attorneys should be aware that this unintended consequence might rise to the surface in a case such has this. Please tell your clients that their Board Certification might become a real issue in this type of situation so that they are prepared to deal with the problem.