New York State Department of Health, OPMC, Consent Orders Can Be Confusing

A health care provider recently came to me after entering into a Consent Order with the Office of Professional Conduct, OPMC.  The Order was lengthy and prevented the provider from practicing until certain steps were taken.  One of the steps was to take and pass the certifying exam for Physician Assistants to prove that his medical skills were proficient.  However, shortly after he signed the Order, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, NCCPA, wrote to him and advised that his eligibility to take the certifying exam was revoked.  This revocation was based on the fact that the NCCPA reading of the Consent Order showed that my client was guilty of practicing negligently on more than one occasion, guilty of willfully filing a false report and guilty of failing to maintain an accurate medical record. Obviously, this meant that he could never practice again because he was suddenly not permitted to take the exam which was required for him to again be able to practice in New York State.  This was a problem that was apparently without any answer.

I read the letter from NCCPA and saw that there was still time left to appeal this decision.  I then compared the language in the NCCPA with the New York State Consent Order and realized that the NCCPA had misinterpreted the language in the Consent Order.  The NCCPA mistakenly thought that my client had been found guilty of, or had admitted to, all of the charges listed in the Consent Order.  That, however, was not true.  What the Consent Order actually said was that my client admitted only to the charge of not maintaining complete records.  All of the other charges against him were dropped.  But, unless you were used to reading these Consent Orders written by New York State, you could very easily come to the incorrect view of what had happened.

Accordingly, I wrote a position paper and submitted it as an appeal to the NCCPA pointing out the issue.  Thankfully someone at the NCCPA actually read what I wrote and I received a letter from them which reinstated my client so that he now can take the certifying exam to get on the road to having his New York license restored.  This was the correct result, but it easily could have gone against my client if the NCCPA had simply disregarded what I had said in my appeal/letter or if I had not been able to appeal because the time period to do so had expired.

So, you should understand that sometimes your position will be upheld if you are persistent and make it clear that an injustice has been done that should be corrected.