When you sign a consent order with the OPMC, it is essential that you understand and carry out the commitments in order.
I recently was contacted by a physician who, in June of 2018, had signed a Consent Order with the New York State Department of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct, (OPMC). That Order precluded the doctor’s ability to prescribe most narcotics and required that he take some Continuing Medical Education courses which had to be approved by OPMC first. He also had to attend a Clinical Assessment session. The Order went on to say that the doctor could apply to OPMC to have the narcotic preclusion lifted after completing both the CME courses and whatever remedial work the Assessment recommended.
The doctor contacted me when he discovered that the DEA refused to renew his DEA Certificate because of the narcotics limitation that had been imposed by OPMC. As it turned out, the doctor had never sent a list of CME courses to be approved by OPMC and he had never carried out the recommendations from the Assessment. The reason he had not done these things is that he never carefully read the OPMC Consent Order that he signed, and therefore did not understand that these items were mandatory if he hoped to have this prescribing limitation removed. He also did not know that the DEA would refuse to renew his Certificate with the limitation that was placed against his license.
To make matters more complicated, his hospital mandates that all physicians have a DEA Certificate. This forced the doctor to raise the issue with his hospital and ask if the administration could overlook the lack of the Certificate while he goes about trying to work all of this out.
This is not a comfortable position in which to find yourself as, without a hospital affiliation, most doctors will pretty much be out of business.
So, the lesson to be learned is that before you sign a Consent Order, sit down with your attorney and read every word in the Order so you understand the damage that is being done, and how to take the necessary timely steps to rectify the problem. Failure to know exactly what avenues you have to travel to remove restrictions in the Consent Order will lead to problems that might curtail your ability to earn a living as a physician.
Many doctors think the issue is over as long as they sign an Order that leaves them with a medical license. However, this is not true, so it is mandatory that you understand the collateral damage that can arise from a situation like this. Be certain you know exactly what you have to do to minimize the damage to your career.