Can doctors become a physician with a past felony on record? This is not going to be a state-specific discussion. Every medical board in every different state has different rules. And so, I would suggest specifically reaching out and trying to find what the rules are as far as felony bars for physicians. This is going to be kind of a general discussion of what you need to think about if you have a felony in your past, and you’re either maybe in medical school, in residency, or fellowship, and then you’re ultimately going to have to apply potentially to a new licensing board and kind of how they’ll think about that.
What Was the Degree of Felony Did the Physician Have on Criminal Record?
The first thing is what type of felony it was. There are degrees of felonies, obviously. And so, what you specifically did, is going to impact whether a board feels like they should give you a license or not. Any kind of violent crime is difficult. If it’s kind of drug or substance abuse related, that’s usually much easier to deal with. Think about this from the board’s perspective. Let’s just assume there are no laws on the books that say a physician who applies for a license in this state is just absolutely barred if they have a past felony. It’s very unlikely that the board that you’re going to be applying to has a rule like that. Most medical boards will look at each case on a case-by-case basis. There may be rules that state if the physician is currently licensed and then gets a felony, then it might be an automatic revocation, but most of them don’t just simply bar any kind of applications for past felonies.
How will the Medical Board Look at Physicians During Medical License Defense?
As I said before, they’re going to look at, alright, well, what was the felony? And then, how long ago did it happen? How many different criminal incidents were there? And then certainly, as I said before, the type. Any kind of felony-related incident or conviction that the physician rehabilitates from is going to be something that the board will be willing to work with. And as I said before, if it’s substance abuse or drug-related, well, that’s easy to rehabilitate from, you go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous), you go to therapy or group counseling, you take random drug screens, and you stop doing drugs or drinking alcohol, and you can show a prolonged period of sobriety.
All these things are the things that the board is going to care about, and they’re going to certainly check into, so if you did have a drug-related felony and then had to go to rehab or an intensive outpatient treatment program, or something like that, they’re going to want to see proof that you did all of those things. So, you want to certainly keep all the records associated with any kind of rehab that you have. Now, what if it’s something different that you can’t rehabilitate from? Like I said before, a violent crime, assault, domestic violence, something like that. Well, you need to show that things have changed in your life from what happened at the time, until the time that you apply, so the board can see you’ve at least learned from the incident and have grown from it, and they may have incorporated positive changes into your life that show that you have, I guess, made positive steps since the felony occurred.
The board wants to see that a physician is regulatable and then ultimately, they’re able to provide safe patient care in the medical field. That’s the stated mission of every medical licensing board, to protect the public. They’re not there to protect the doctor. So, if their mission is to protect the public, you need to make certain that the board understands and feels comfortable issuing the license so that public safety is not going to be an issue.
Best Steps to Take if Doctors in Training Have a past Crime
Now, how to handle this? Obviously, many people go into medical school, and then they might go into a residency in a different state. And then they plan on going into a different state when they ultimately finish training. Think about the state that you’re going to have to get a physician’s medical license if you’re going into training. That’s going to be the first hurdle on the road to becoming a professional. So, you probably need to reach out to an attorney in the state where you’re going into training, and then just see, is the past felony going to be an impediment to me getting my license?
If you can get a license in one state, it’s more likely than not that it won’t be an issue in another state. It’s just kind of common sense that if one state feels comfortable issuing a license to a doctor that the other state will likely feel comfortable as well. Now, they’re not beholden to any other state. So, just because you got a license in one state, doesn’t mean you’re going to get it in every state that you apply to. But in my experience handling these kinds of medical board cases, it is likely that if board members see, alright, well, they already have a license.
They got through training with value problems, it’s been three or four years, so it probably means this person is safe to practice. And then they’re more likely to issue the license or not. As I said before, reach out to an attorney who handles medical board issues in the state where you’re going to get your training permit originally.
Now, some medical boards have stricter scrutiny when you’re applying for a full license once you’re done with training versus just issuing a training permit or whatever kind of provisional license, they have in that state to complete your residency. So, it just makes sense to reach out to a medical board attorney in the near state and just walk through all these things. If they have experience with the board, they should know the answers to those questions of alright, okay, for people that have had this in their past, this is kind of what the board has done.
The Advice of a Lawyer to a Future Doctor
No attorney is going to be able to give you a 100% guarantee that you’re going to get a license if you’ve had something in your past, such as a felony. They cannot do that. So, you just need to kind of assess all the information you have available to you, and then make an informed decision. If you’re reading this blog, and you’re thinking, alright, I don’t even know if I should go to medical school because of a past felony. Well, once again, reach out to a board attorney in the state that maybe you’re going to school in, and then they can walk you through the scenario.
Being a felon is not a complete bar to having a medical license and being a physician, but obviously, it does have some major roadblocks associated with it, not only with getting a medical license but when you start applying for jobs in the medical field as a physician as well. And when they do a criminal background check, they’re going to see that you have a felony conviction, and you’re going to have to have a good explanation about what happened. For all the things you had to show the board about your rehabilitation, it’ll likely be the same scenario with an employer walking through.
Most employers are more understanding than the medical licensing board. But it’s going to be something you’re most likely going to have to deal with for the rest of your career. Anyway, if you have any questions about employment contracts or medical board issues, we’re in Arizona. So, keep that in mind. Hopefully, my information was kind of a good general primer on what to do if you have a felony in your past and you’re thinking of becoming a physician, maybe you’re in training and then get a felony, or maybe you are a doctor with a criminal record.
What is a DEA Audit?
Knowing what a DEA audit is can mean the difference between keeping your license for administering controlled substances and having that license taken away or even a prison sentence. Always be prepared for a DEA audit and know your rights.
What is a DEA Audit Exactly?
The DEA is a law enforcement agency in the U.S. government. They can assess both criminal and civil penalties under the law. The DEA audit is a security practice conducted by this agency. They make unannounced inspections in order to audit business locations and laboratories where registered controlled substances are stored. They ensure that the person licensed to have these controlled substances in their possession stays in compliance with the CSA (the Controlled Substance Act). They verify security practices as well as record-keeping practices.
How Often DEA Audits are Done?
Some providers are inspected once every three years, but occasionally inspections are more frequent if the provider has and prescribes buprenorphine. Drug treatment centers and other DEA registrants who are not practitioners usually get inspected every five years. The inspections can occur any time, including late in the day or around holiday weekends.
DEA Audit Requires Informed Consent
When an inspection is about to take place and the provider is presented with a DEA Form 82, the registrant has to give informed consent before the inspection can begin. The person states in writing that he is told of his constitutional right not to have an inspection and that if anything incriminating is found, it can be used against the registrant in any criminal proceedings.
Refusal of Informed Consent
When the DEA registrant has refused to give his informed consent, the DEA then has to get an inspection warrant from the Federal Court. These types of warrants are commonly issued by the courts without a problem.
When Presented with a Warrant
When you receive an administrative search warrant, you should contact an attorney right away. Do not refuse to comply with having the search done or you could be arrested.
Noncompliance with the CSA on a DEA Audit
After a DEA audit is done and any non-compliance is found, the DEA issues a report which details the issues that have been considered non-compliant to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The whole matter can be referred to the Department of Justice and criminal prosecution begun. Violations result in ever-increasing penalties, from a Letter of Admonition to a prison sentence.
In order to protect your DEA registration, a DEA Show Cause Lawyer is a necessity for your defense. These attorneys are experienced in dealing with DEA investigations and with any enforcement actions that come about as a result.
Can You Get a DEA Number With a Felony?
So, can you get a DEA number with a felony? If you are registering for a DEA number and you have a felony on your record, it is important to know what to do in order to get a DEA Registration Number. Having this number is key to your career as, without it, doctors won’t be able to prescribe medications to patients.
What is a DEA Number?
A DEA number is assigned to health care providers such as physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, and optometrists. It is issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration and allows the health care provider to write prescriptions or distribute controlled substances.
What is a Felony?
A felony is a serious crime and is often defined by the amount of time a person convicted of one would stay in prison. Usually, if the punishment is more than a year, it is considered a felony. Types of felonies and the punishments for them can vary from state to state. Medical careers can be adversely affected by having a felony on record because a medical license can be revoked.
How an Applicant for a Medical Job is Screened?
When you are applying for a job with a healthcare organization, maybe as a physician, you will likely go through a screening process. The employer must ensure that you don’t have a felony on record and that you can be fully trusted with patients and with controlled substances. The screening process usually consists of a background check and also a review of the OIG (Office of the Inspector General) exclusion list as well as the GSA (General Services Administration) exclusion list. The background check will specifically look into any felony conviction related to controlled substances, as this would deny any job within the medical community. Once convicted of a felony that involved controlled substances, this issue will carry along with an individual forever.
What the DEA Considers a “Convicted Felon”?
When a doctor with a felony conviction for a felony shows up on a person’s record, obviously the DEA considers there to have been a felony conviction. Sometimes charges may be reduced or dismissed, but the DEA still can deny a DEA number. At times a person may plead no contest to a felony, and this is considered by the DEA as an admission of a felony offense.
Getting Help in Obtaining a DEA Number
When a physician needs to get justice relating to a denial of a DEA number, you can hire a DEA Show Cause Lawyer to assist. Show cause means that one party needs to explain, justify or prove something to the court. The attorney you hire will, with your help, provide more information for the judge so that he may rescind the denial.
How Can a Physician be Terminated for Cause?
What are the ways a physician can be terminated with a cause? In any contract, there are several mechanisms to terminate a physician. One is without cause which means either party can terminate the agreement with a certain amount of notice to the other party. Usually, that’s 60 or 90 days. That’s where most terminations are going to occur, and it’s almost always on the physician’s side as well. The physician, for whatever reason, is unhappy, has a better opportunity, or just moves for the family. They give without cause termination, they work out the 60 days, and then they move on. Also, in every physician contract, there’s going to be what’s called “with cause termination”.
And there are two different parts of that: one, you’ll have a termination with a cause that can be an immediate termination, meaning, the employer doesn’t have to provide any notice to the physician, or two, it can be with cause termination with the need to cure. And so, in a contractual context, a cure period is simply a period where if someone is alleging the other party in breach of contract, they usually get somewhere between 15 to 30 days to fix the breach. And then, if the breach is cured, they move on and they can no longer terminate the contract for cause. I would say, the normal thing in people’s minds as far as cause termination are kind of the following and I’ll just go through what is listed in nearly every physician contract.
In the contract, it’s going to say, the employer can terminate this contract with cause with no notice required, and it’s usually at their discretion. So, they don’t have to fire the physician immediately, but they can. Kind of the obvious things are, if the physician loses their medical license, they can no longer practice as a physician, an obvious termination. They lose their DEA registration, so they’re no longer allowed to prescribe drugs. That’s a problem for most physicians. And so, that would be immediate termination. They die, they are permanently disabled, and they are uninsurable. This means, that if a physician continuously gets judgments due to medical malpractice, at some point, the insurance companies are going to say, we’re not going to insure you anymore. And no employer is going to keep a physician that doesn’t have malpractice insurance.
So, it’s another thing they can terminate immediately. Generally, a felony conviction is another thing. Sometimes, a state medical board will have laws that state, that if the physician is convicted of a felony, it’s an auto revocation of their medical license. In other states, it must go through an investigation for them to determine if that’s necessary. But for the most part, if you’re convicted of a felony, that’s something that results in the employer terminating a physician. In substance abuse, there might be either a moral clause or a clause about the physician being impaired in some way. I mean, for the most part, people think of impairment as far as substance abuse, drugs, alcohol, something like that. But like prescription drug abuse, it could also be psychological if someone is having mental health issues and they’re unable to practice safely. That could be an impairment.
And then, I said permanent disability before. If you’re in a specialty that requires, say a surgeon requires your hands and you have nerve damage in your hands, then that will result in the revocation of a physician’s medical license that results that the doctor can’t be a surgeon anymore. Well, obviously, they can terminate the contract for that. As I stated before, most of the time, if there’s some other kind of breach, let’s say a physician is refusing to take calls, maybe they’re acting inappropriately towards staff, they’re not fulfilling the required days, hours, that type of thing. If there’s volume expectation and they are far below that, in those scenarios, the employer will usually give, as I said before, a written notice that they have a certain number of days to fix whatever the issue is. And then if it’s fixed, the employer still could terminate them, but they would likely do it without cause since there are no workarounds to terminate them for a cause. So, that’s a little breakdown of how physicians can be terminated with cause, for cause, however, you want to characterize it.
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