We recently represented a pediatrician who put himself in a very poor professional position and fortunately is finally back practicing medicine. This physician was practicing medicine in a state outside of New York and while there he had an affair with the mother of one of his pediatric patients. He also made remarks to other mothers that were viewed as inappropriate and sexual in nature. After an investigation, the doctor’s license was suspended for 6 months and he was placed on 3 years worth of probation on the condition that he have a chaperone in the room anytime he was with a child and the child’s mother.The doctor, a foreign national here on a Visa, also possessed a New York State temporary medical license.
Accordingly, he left the state where his license had been suspended and came to New York. He practiced medicine here for about 3 years on his temporary license. At the time that the doctor’s temporary license was coming to an end the doctor received his green card. Because of that situation, the doctor could not simply extend his temporary license but instead had to apply for a permanent New York license. When he did that the Department of Education became aware of the suspension in the other state and demanded that the doctor supply information regarding the entire situation.
Additionally, the Department of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct, OPMC, was notified and began its own investigation which ended with a notification that the doctor had to appear in Troy, New York for a Hearing regarding the entire situation. My office was retained, as attorneys, to shepherd the license application through the Department of Education and also to defend the doctor with regard to OPMC.
It immediately was clear that we first had to deal with OPMC before the license application would go forward. Accordingly, our attorneys began negotiations with OPMC in an attempt to bring the matter to a quick resolution so that the Department of Education would process the license. However, OPMC would only agree to a Consent Order which would have prevented the doctor from processing his application for six months and would have mandated that he have a chaperon in his office with all pediatric patients for the rest of the doctor’s medical career. This permanent chaperon requirement was totally unsatisfactory to our client and therefore our lawyers prepared for the Hearing in Troy.
At the Hearing our doctor testified, as did the New York physician for whom our client had worked for three years. That doctor testified that for the three years our client had been employed there had not been one complaint concerning his care or his behavior toward the patients or their mothers. The employer also stated that as soon as our client would have a license he would be hired again by this physician.
The result of the Hearing was that our client was able to immediately move forward with his New York license application and he was placed on probation with the need for a chaperon for a three-year period of time. This decision was absolutely the best we could have hoped for under the circumstances and our attorneys immediately pressed forward with the processing of the client’s license application with the Department of Education. Within a month and a half our client had his permanent New York license and he immediately returned to work.
The lesson to be learned here is that at times you have to take a calculated risk when dealing with OPMC. Our lawyers did their best to reach a comprise with OPMC and avoid a Hearing, but when the terms offered were simply not acceptable then going forward with the Hearing was the only logical path of action. Once it was decided to go to the Hearing, our attorneys then planned the way to present the case to the Hearing Committee in the best possible light to obtain the best possible result. I feel that was accomplished in this case.