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. 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. You’re either maybe in medical school, in residency, or fellowship. 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 Doctor Have on Criminal Record?
The first thing is what type of felony it was. There are degrees of felonies, obviously. 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. 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 Doctor 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 check into certainly. 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.
What Does The Medical Board Want To See?
The board wants to see that a physician is regulatable. 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. 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.
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. Then just see, is the past felony going to be an impediment to me getting my license?
What if I Can Get Licensed in One State?
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. 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. 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. Like, 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. 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. 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.
Let Us Help You
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.
Other Blogs of Interest
- Should an Arizona Physician Ever Surrender Their License?
- Is a Letter of Reprimand from the Arizona Medical Board Public?
- Types of Arizona Medical Board Practice Restrictions
What Happens When a Doctor in Arizona is Under Investigation? | AZ Medical Investigations
Our firm regularly represents physicians and physician assistants under investigation with the Arizona Medical Board. Or the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants. I thought it might be helpful to provide a brief overview of what to expect should a complaint be filed against your license.
The initial process involves the board staff members informing you that a complaint has been filed. And notifying you in writing that they will determine whether the allegations warrant a further investigation. Upon determination that the allegations warrant further investigation, you will receive an additional letter stating the nature of the allegations. Indicating that you, as the licensee, have an opportunity to respond in writing to the allegations by a certain date.
In addition to your written response. The board staff member assigned to your investigation may also subpoena patient charts and other relevant documentation. Or obtain statements from third-party witnesses or opinions from outside medical consultants. Once the investigation process has been completed, the board staff member in charge of your investigation will notify you. Stating that the investigation has been closed. And that the complaint has been forwarded to the staff investigative review committee to determine further action.
Can You Sue Someone for Filing a False Complaint With the Arizona Medical Board?
Our firm represents physicians before the Arizona medical board and the osteopathic board. We’ve been representing healthcare providers in Arizona for over a decade now. And one thing that comes up semi-frequently is the question. Can you sue someone for filing a false board complaint in Arizona? Pretty simple question. The answer is yes, but there are some caveats we will go over right now. Every board has a statute. They’re in the Arizona revised statutes, which lay the groundwork for what the board can and can’t do. In the statute for the Arizona medical board, there’s a section. I’m going to read it, which says any person or entity that reports or provides information to the board in good faith. That person is not subject to an action for civil damages.
Arizona Medical Board
In summary, anyone who files a board complaint in good faith can’t be sued for civil damages. The most important part of that section is good faith. What is good faith? This means if someone honestly believes that the physician committed misconduct, did something illegal, or violated the statute. They’re immune from civil damages. The only way that a physician could sue someone for filing a board complaint is if it was false and in bad faith. People can file a good faith complaint with bad intentions. You could have a patient who wants to stick it to the doctor, a competitor physician who’s doing the same, or an employer who is somehow upset about their relationship terminating.
Licensing Board Complaint
If any of those people filed a good faith argument, they believed that whatever the physician did could violate the statute. They’d be immune from a civil lawsuit. If you sue the person, you must prove they acted in bad faith. They knew that what they were alleging was false. Potentially they made up falsehoods and used that as a basis for a complaint. There was a case in the mid-two thousand. That kind of worked its way up to the court of appeals in Arizona. And basically, it was one physician who filed a board complaint against a competitor physician. They’re in the same specialty, fighting for patients in the same area, and alleged some things. And the physician who had the complaint. Filed against him and filed a lawsuit against the other doctor. They stated that the other party did not submit the complaint in good faith.
Are There Any Mistakes Physicians Make?
And therefore, he suffered some damage. I’m just going to read what the counts of that lawsuit are. Right? Some counts for the lawsuit are:
- The alleged defamation
- False light invasion of privacy
- Wrongful institution
- Maintenance of an administrative proceeding
- Intentional interference with prospective contractual to business relationships
- Injurious falsehood
What the court held, though, was the first count. Was the complaint filed in good faith or not? And the court said, yes, it was. They’re saying even if some of the things alleged by the person who filed the complaint were untrue. They believed they were true. They made at least a minimum amount of verification of the facts. And therefore, the other party filed the complaint in good faith. And so the physician who filed the complaint against him couldn’t recover any damages.
We have a case currently with the Arizona medical board. We’re representing a client. I won’t get into the details of it. However, I can give broad strokes. In this case, a patient alleged that our client gave them on a certain date, a specific procedure. Then, there was a negative outcome during the procedure, after a review of the medical records. Our client never saw the patient on the alleged date. Never even provided the procedure alleged by the patient. And then, obviously, the bad outcome didn’t occur either. So, did that person file a complaint in bad faith? Well, we believe, yes. As I stated before, when looking at whether a complaint is filed in good or bad faith. Do you need to look at whether the person who filed the complaint attempted to verify any of the information?
Medical Board Complaints
In this case, obviously, no. What could someone do to verify the information? They could call the office and verify when they saw the physician. Request the medical records, review those, and talk to the people involved. A minimum base amount of effort needs to be given to verify allegations. And if the complainant, the person who files a complaint, doesn’t do any of that. Then that certainly allows whoever had the complaint filed against them to argue that it was filed in bad faith.
This is a fairly nuanced topic. In summary, can you sue someone for filing a false board complaint in Arizona? The answer is yes, you can, under certain circumstances. But it’s an interesting topic to discuss. As I stated, my firm Chelle Law represents physicians before the Arizona medical board and osteopath boards. If you have any questions, we’re certainly happy to answer them. Just give us a call, the number is listed below in the description, or you can visit us on our website, Chelle law.com, C H E L L E law.com. Hopefully, this is informative. Please comment if you have suggestions for other topics you want me to discuss. I’ll be happy to do that. So anyway, thanks for listening, and take care.
What Criminal Charges Should a Physician Report to the Arizona Medical Board?
What types of criminal charges must physicians report to the Arizona Medical Board? To put it another way, imagine you are a doctor who has been arrested and charged with a crime. Now, what are your reporting obligations to your licensing board?
In Arizona, we have a statute called A.R.S. 32-3208. It governs the reporting of criminal charges by all Arizona health care professionals to their regulatory boards. Essentially, this statute states that if charged with a felony or misdemeanor, that may affect patient safety. A practitioner or provider must report those criminal charges to their regulatory board. It must be in writing and within ten working days upon the filing of charges.
Many people are unaware that they must do so. Many practitioners mistakenly believe they must only report the final disposition of a criminal case. Or any conviction resulting from criminal charges. However, this is not the case.
Under the statutory language, a provider must report any criminal charges filed within ten working days. The statutes here go even further. It is unprofessional for providers not to say these criminal charges to their regulatory board.
Look Up Information About Reportable Offenses
Consider the following scenario: you are arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Or any other felony that may seriously affect patient health and safety. In that case, you must notify the medical board within ten business days. It’s worth noting that the language surrounding the misdemeanor charge that may seriously affect a patient’s safety appears to be very limiting. Still, visit the website of the Arizona Medical Board. They do provide a list of reportable misdemeanor offenses.
According to the statute, these are misdemeanors that may jeopardize patient safety. The list includes a wide range of offenses. In that case, don’t assume that the misdemeanor they’ve charged you won’t impact patient health and safety. And it will also relieve you of the obligation to notify the medical board about the charge. Say they charged you with a crime, or you are a physician who needs help self-reporting to the Arizona medical board. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
What is a Summary Suspension by the Arizona Medical Board?
What is a Summary Suspension by the Arizona Medical Board License Suspension
What is a summary suspension for a physician licensed with the Arizona Medical Board? What does that process look like? And what can a physician expect if they find themselves in a proceeding to suspend their license summarily?
To Protect Public Health, Safety, and Welfare
A summary suspension is an emergency action the Arizona Medical Board takes. Suppose they believe that public health, safety, and welfare require emergency action against a physician’s license to restrict all or some of their practice. So, this is an action the board takes before the allegations of unprofessional conduct are fully investigated. The physician has had an opportunity for a formal interview or hearing on the allegations.
Suppose the board feels the allegations are serious enough. So severe that they cannot put off action against the license until the investigation has concluded. In that case, they can summarily suspend. If they believe that harm could come to the public while board staff is completing their investigation into the allegations. It can be an action the board staff recommends to the board to restrict the physician’s ability to practice thoroughly. It could be an action the board staff takes. Should a physician refuse to sign an interim practice restriction during the investigation?
Suppose the board staff receives a complaint with serious allegations. If they’re concerned about the physician’s ability to practice, they can offer an interim practice restriction. To prohibit or limit some of that physician’s practice activities while they gather more information about the allegations.
Say a physician refuses to sign an interim practice restriction offered by board staff during the investigation. The board staff’s recourse at that point is to proceed with a summary suspension of the physician’s license. This again is asking the board to suspend and restrict the physician’s ability to practice pending a formal administrative hearing into the allegations.
Right by Statute
Suppose the board summarily suspends a physician’s license and finds that emergency action is required to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. The physician has a right by statute to have an administrative hearing on the allegations. And within 60 days of the summary suspension. At that point, should the board vote to immediately suspend the physician’s license, they would refer the matter to the office of administrative hearings for a full evidentiary hearing.
By statute, that hearing must be held within 60 days of the summary suspension by the board. Should you find yourself under investigation by the Arizona Medical Board. Or in the process of summary suspension proceedings or a subsequent formal hearing after you’ve been summarily suspended. Please do not hesitate to contact our firm if you need advice or assistance.
How Can a Doctor 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 termination. 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 to 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. Two, it can be with-cause termination with the need to cure.
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. 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 for-cause termination are kind of the following. I’ll just go through what is listed in nearly every physician contract.
With Cause Termination
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 resulting 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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