Should you surrender your license if you have found yourself under investigation by the Arizona medical board? Voluntary surrender is when a physician chooses to give up their license and cease practicing medicine in Arizona to resolve or conclude an open investigation with the board into allegations of unprofessional conduct. And it’s significant because a voluntary surrender is a disciplinary action against the physician’s license; therefore, it is reportable. That means that once the physician surrenders their license, the board will go through its normal reporting process and report the voluntary surrender to the national practitioner data bank. It will also post a record of the voluntary surrender on the Arizona medical board website.
Surrendering the Physicians License Voluntarily: The Consent Agreement
When physicians choose to surrender their license voluntarily, it is usually in the form of a consent agreement for voluntary surrender. The consent agreement will include factual findings, legal conclusions, and a surrender order. The findings will be made public on the websites of the Arizona Medical Board and the National Practitioner Data Bank, making them significant. As a result, it ensures that the results of significant discoveries are included in your voluntary surrender document. If you go down that road, it’s only fair that you have a say in what’s said to the extent that the board staff will let you change the conclusions.
What Should You Consider When Surrendering Your License Voluntarily?
It should also consider that a voluntary surrender is something that can affect, obviously, licenses in other states. So, if you are under investigation in Arizona, maybe you hold licenses in several other states. You’ve had a complaint filed against you with the Arizona medical board, and you think it’s easier to surrender your Arizona license. So you don’t have to deal with going through the investigative process. That is one crucial consideration because if you choose to submit your license here in Arizona, that could also impact the other states where you hold licenses.
Another thing about a voluntary surrender is that it is usable as a means for the office of the inspector general to place you on an exclusion list. That prohibits you from billing a federal insurance program. A voluntary surrender revocation or suspension of a state license is grounds for what the OIG calls a permissive exclusion. Voluntary surrender of your medical license could also trigger the OIG to place you on that exclusion list. There are a lot of factors to consider if you are considering surrendering. It is a serious decision that may result in disciplinary action against a physician’s license. It affects where it is reported, the licenses of other states, and other effects such as being reported to the OIG and having consequences.
Reach Out for an Attorney
Suppose you are a physician and have found yourself under investigation by the Arizona medical board. In that case, you are considering surrendering your license. If you feel like you need more information or need advice on what to do, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
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Types of Arizona Medical Board Practice Restrictions | Medical Board Rules
What practice restrictions can the Arizona Medical Board impose on a physician? What are some common types of practice restrictions? And how can we assist you if you find yourself in a situation where the Arizona medical board asks you to sign a practice restriction?
Interim Practice Restriction Information
When a physician is under investigation by the Arizona medical board, the Arizona medical board may reach out to the physician and ask them to sign an interim practice restriction. And essentially, that means they want to restrict all or part of the physician’s practice during the investigation into the allegations of unprofessional conduct.
Depending on the nature and severity of allegations or number of complaints, that may be before the board. Board staff may feel it’s appropriate to limit or fully restrict the physician’s practice of medicine. At the same time, they determine whether there is any veracity to the allegations that have been made. As a result, before the board can conduct a thorough investigation, a practice restriction is frequently imposed. In that case, they will close the case entirely. That is why it is called an “interim practice restriction,” and the temporary restrictions can vary.
What Happens to a Physician Under State Restriction?
We sometimes see a complete restriction on a physician’s ability to practice medicine. And then sometimes we see restrictions on certain activities. Again, it doesn’t prevent them from practicing medicine, but may prevent them from doing certain things or maybe require certain things, some sort of a monitor chaperone during their practice, depending on the type, nature, severity, and many allegations against the physician. There is also an opportunity or possibility for a practice restriction to appear in a final consent agreement for probation.
And this is a disciplinary action against the physician’s license. It is issued at the end of an investigation as the case resolution. And typically, suppose the board and board staff has found that the physicians’ activities or the allegations contained in the complaint rise to a level of violating the Arizona medical practice act. In that case, they may impose discipline on the physician in the form of probation. And as part of the probation, there may also be a practice restriction like what you would see in the interim practice restrictions during the investigation.
What Should You Do if You Are Under Investigation by the Arizona Medical Board?
So, typically, that will not be a complete ban on the physician’s practice because they would revoke the license, allow the surrender of the
license, or perhaps suspend the medical license for a period. But practice restrictions can appear in final probationary orders to limit certain physician activities or require additional reporting or oversight of specific activities by a physician. If you are a physician here in Arizona and find yourself under investigation by the Arizona medical board, you have been offered a practice restriction. If you need advice on what to do or have general questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Can You Sue Someone for Filing a False Complaint With the Arizona Medical Board?
Hi, my name is Robert Chelle with Chelle Law. My 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 Arizona revised regulations, which lay the groundwork for what the Board can and can’t do. In the law for the Arizona medical board, there’s a section. I will 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? It 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 reasonable 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. I 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. How honestly did the complaint get filed? Is it 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, and 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 process 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, how honestly does the complaint get filed? Do you need to determine whether the person who filed the complaint attempted to verify any information?
Medical Board Complaints
In this case, obviously, no. What could someone do to verify the information? They could call the office and prove 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 indeed allows whoever had the complaint filed against them to argue that it was filed in bad faith.
It is a reasonably 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 exciting 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.
How Long Does an Arizona Medical Board Investigation Take?
What can a physician expect when someone files a complaint against their license with the Arizona Medical Board? And how long does it typically take for that complaint process to resolve? Unfortunately, like with many things in the law, the answer is it depends. There are a variety of factors that can affect the length of the investigation. For example, if there are several complaints against the physician, the allegations are of substance abuse or sexual. And the Board feels that they need additional information in the form of an evaluation. That can certainly prolong the course of the investigation while the physician undergoes some evaluation.
If the Physician Accepts the Consent Agreement
In addition, if the case is resolved and the Board offers the physician a consent agreement to resolve the matter. Or a non-disciplinary outcome such as a dismissal or an advisory letter. That could shorten the process if the physician, for example, chooses to accept the consent agreement or the advisory letter. And, of course, accept the dismissal as the case’s outcome.
However, suppose the board staff concludes its investigation into the matter and perhaps offers the physician a disciplinary consent agreement. In that case, the physician can reject that consent agreement and proceed to a formal interview before the Board. Or ask that the board staff refer the matter to the office of administrative hearings for a formal hearing. Suppose the physician chooses to proceed with a formal interview or hearing. This can delay the resolution of the process because that takes more time. Typically, the Arizona medical board sends out letters to the physicians at the beginning of an investigation. They indicate that the complaint investigation process normally takes about six months.
In our experience, we find that the investigations typically take closer to a year. So, suppose you are under investigation, or you receive a notification of a complaint against you. In that case, it’s essential to manage your expectations. And know that it could be several months and over a year before the matter fully resolves. Also, again, that timeline can vary based on many of the factors I have discussed today. Suppose you are a physician and have found yourself under investigation by the Arizona medical board. If you feel like you need additional information or us to help guide you through the process. Please do not hesitate to reach out.
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