When we represent physicians in the OPMC matters, we always strive to resolve issues quickly before the situation escalates. We would begin by thoroughly investigating your case by interviews and document reviews. We will then present out position to the OPMC investigator often convincing the agency to terminate the case before it reaches the next level.
Graduating from medical school, surviving residency, and keeping up with rigid everyday requirements of a medical practice are all remarkable achievements that only few accomplish. Being a practicing physician is definitely a matter of special pride for both the physician and their family.
Your practice, your livelihood, and your social standing all depend on your medical license. This is why when your medical license is in jeopardy, it is so essential to seek an experienced NY OPMC lawyer to represent you when contacted by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct.
While many New York doctors have never heard about the OPMC, it is the organization authorized by law to investigate professional misconduct committed by physicians and physician assistants.
If a New York medical doctor is found guilty of professional misconduct, either after a formal hearing or by consent agreement, he or she may be subject to a variety of potential penalties including:
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MISCONDUCT COMPLAINT IS FILED AGAINST A NEW YORK PHYSICIAN
Professional disciplinary process for New York physicians usually begins with a complaint filed with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC). The OPMC will investigate any complaint alleging misconduct. During this time the OPMC may interview the physician and potential witnesses, subpoena records, etc. The OPMC will then notify the physician, generally by a letter in the mail or by telephone, often requesting an interview. In some cases, patient records will be requested. It is important to know, that while the licensee has an obligation to cooperate with the disciplinary authorities and must provide any requested documentation, one is not obligated to agree to an interview.
In fact, no physician should be speaking with any investigators with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct prior to seeking legal advice.
In cases where the physician does submit to an OPMC interview, the agency will prepare a Report of Interview and make it available to the physician. A that point, an experienced New York OPMC attorney can many times convince the OPMC the issue is not worth pursuing.
However, if the initial OPMC investigation determines that there is sufficient evidence of professional misconduct, the case will be referred to the Investigation Committee. Members of an Investigation Committee are two doctors and a lay person.
When the investigation is concluded, the case investigator will refer the investigative report to a committee that consists of two doctors of the special OPMC physician panel and one non-physician. The committee will make a recommendation regarding the next step. For example, they may determine that there is no cause for further action and the case will be closed. Alternatively, they may demand further investigation, issue an administrative warning to the licensee, or require the licensee to undergo a physical or psychiatric evaluation.
The committee may recommend that a formal action against the licensee be filed. In this case, an administrative hearing will be scheduled. Many physicians seek to settle the case by a Consent Agreement in lieu of a formal administrative hearing.
Under certain circumstances, when the Department of Health determines that a physician is an imminent threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public or in the case the licensee has been convicted of a felony, the license may be temporarily suspended prior to the administrative hearing.
CAN A PHYSICIAN APPEAL THE PANEL’S FINDING?
There are two ways to appeal the hearing outcome. First, there is an administrative avenue where both the physician and the State may appeal the outcome of the hearing to the Administrative Review Board (ARB). It is the only administrative appellate remedy. The board consists of three physicians and two lay persons. The process is overseen by an Administrative Law Judge.
Both parties may file legal briefs and the Board will issue its decision within 45 days after the briefs are filed.
Another avenue is a judicial one. The panel’s hearing findings and/or the ARB’s determination may be appealed by bringing an Article 78 action in the Appellate Division of the New York Superior Court.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT WAY TO RESPOND TO AN OPMS INVESTIGATION?
When you discover that you are the subject of the OPMC investigation, you must consult with an experienced NY opmc attorney who has handled the OPMC actions.
As a licensee, you are obligated to cooperate with the investigation.
Failure to cooperate is professional misconduct on its own. Cooperation, however, does not mean forfeiting your rights and you do have the right to consult with a NY opmc attorney before discussing the case with the investigator. You do not have to speak with the investigators.
It is essential to understand that every word you say and any information you provide will become part of the investigative report as comprised by the investigator. It will not matter that you did not say or mean exactly what the report says. It will be your word against the investigator’s and the odds will not be in your favor. Moreover, you may be subject to additional charges based only on your voluntary statements.
When approached by an OPMC investigator, the only correct way to handle the situation is to assure the investigator that you are willing to comply with the investigation and insist on discussing the matter with your attorney first. Your attorney will then contact the investigator on your behalf.
This will save you from making implicating admissions that could make the case more difficult to resolve. Participation in an OPMC interview without prior legal consultation and preparation may be absolutely fatal to the outcome of your case and your future ability to practice medicine.
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