We recently represented a New York State licensed physician during an inquiry by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct, OPMC. The matter came to OPMC’s attention when this doctor surrendered his medical license in another state during an investigation concerning whether the physician was practicing medicine while being impaired by high levels of medication he was taking. The doctor stated that he was never impaired by any substance and that he surrendered his license because it was far too expensive to fight the matter in this other state and also because he had decided to return to New York to practice.
After he returned to New York, OPMC was advised of the surrender in the other state and began to investigate the physician. During this investigation it was discovered that during the last 10 years, the physician had twice been arrested for assault. One arrest was in New York and the other in a different jurisdiction. OPMC wanted to know the disposition of both cases because if there had been a conviction in either case then sanctions might well have been handed down against the doctor.
Our lawyers looked into the two incidents. One had occurred 10 years earlier and there was no record of exactly how that legal proceeding finally ended as the small town in question was unable to locate the file on the case. We then contacted the attorney who had represented the doctor in that matter. That lawyer wrote a letter for us stating that the case against the doctor had been abandoned by the prosecution and it was long since over without any adverse consequences to the doctor.
The second event was much more recent in time and in that case the physician and his criminal lawyer had entered into an agreement with the prosecution that the doctor would enter a pre-trial program which would end with the dismissal of all charges if the doctor satisfactorily completed the requirements of the program. Our office obtained documentation from the pre-trial program office stating that the doctor was in compliance. We also obtained a letter of explanation from the doctor’s criminal attorney.
In addition to the information concerning the two criminal events, we also forwarded to OPMC letters from our client’s treating doctor and his current employer, both stating that our client was a competent practitioner.
All of this effort ended with a letter from OPMC stating that the investigation was over and that their case was now closed. This was an obvious relief to our client.
Every case that involves OPMC is one that requires the closest attention to detail by the attorney. It is imperative that the correct information be obtained so that OPMC will end its investigation as early as possible. You must avoid having your client charged with misconduct and the way to do that is to put all of your efforts into convincing OPMC that it is not necessary to pursue the matter further. The point is to avoid a trial on the issues, as that trial truly puts a physician in jeopardy.