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ny opmc defense lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | July 26, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 15, 2023)

Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 01:43 pm

NY OPMC Defense Lawyers: A Helpful Guide for Physicians Facing Disciplinary Action

Physicians in New York may find themselves facing an investigation by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) at some point in their career. Allegations of misconduct can come from patients, colleagues, facilities, insurance companies and other agencies. While some complaints may be minor, others can threaten a physician’s medical license and livelihood. Having an experienced NY OPMC defense lawyer is critical to navigating this complex disciplinary process and achieving the best possible outcome.

This guide provides an overview of key things physicians should know if facing OPMC action:

What is the OPMC?

The OPMC is part of the New York State Department of Health and is responsible for investigating complaints and disciplining physicians, physician assistants and specialist assistants for professional misconduct. There are regional OPMC offices in New York City and upstate.

What Constitutes Professional Misconduct?

According to New York law, professional misconduct covers a wide range of behaviors, including[1]:

  • Negligence or incompetence
  • Having a criminal conviction
  • Disciplinary action in another state
  • Poor record-keeping
  • Breach of patient boundaries
  • Practicing under the influence of drugs/alcohol
  • Insurance fraud
  • False statements during license renewal
  • Allowing unlicensed personnel to perform duties without proper licensing

Even minor issues like record-keeping errors can trigger bigger problems.

Overview of the OPMC Disciplinary Process

Here are the typical steps after a complaint is filed against a physician[2][3]:

  • OPMC Investigation: The physician is notified of the investigation by letter/phone. The OPMC may request an interview and/or patient records. Physicians must provide requested records but are not required to consent to an interview. It’s wise to consult a lawyer first.
  • Investigation Committee Review: If misconduct evidence is found, the case goes to a 3-person Investigation Committee (two doctors, one layperson). They review evidence and recommend whether to bring disciplinary charges.
  • Charges Filed: If the Committee believes there is enough evidence of misconduct, formal charges are filed. Some cases are made public at this point if a risk to public health exists.
  • Hearing: A hearing is scheduled where evidence is presented. Physicians can settle charges before the hearing through a consent order.
  • Penalties: If found guilty, penalties range from censure to probation to license suspension/revocation. Fines, community service and retraining may also be required.
  • Appeals: Physicians can appeal Committee decisions to the Administrative Review Board (ARB) and then the court system.

Having legal counsel from the start is paramount, as statements made during OPMC interviews can be used against physicians later on. Experienced lawyers understand the complexities and can guide physicians through each step.

Why Hire a NY OPMC Defense Lawyer?

Here are key reasons physicians under investigation need a lawyer[3][4]:

  • Expertise: OPMC cases require specific experience handling professional discipline. Lawyers have successfully guided thousands of NY physicians through this process.
  • Early Intervention: Getting legal help immediately allows for the most effective defense strategy. Lawyers can manage the process from the investigation stage.
  • Avoid Missteps: Even innocent mistakes in responding to the OPMC can create bigger issues. Lawyers prevent missteps.
  • Negotiation Skills: Experienced lawyers know how to negotiate consent orders and settlements to avoid harsher penalties.
  • Litigation Skills: If a hearing occurs, litigation prowess is needed to dispute evidence and allegations.
  • Objectivity: Lawyers provide an impartial perspective the physician may lack.
  • Peace of Mind: Having expert counsel eases stress during this difficult time.

Reputable NY OPMC defense lawyers have the right mix of skills and experience to protect a physician’s interests.

Potential Penalties If Found Guilty of Misconduct

Here are possible penalties physicians face if found guilty[3]:

  • License revocation
  • License suspension
  • Probation
  • Limitation of license
  • Reprimand
  • Fines up to $10,000 per violation
  • Community service
  • Mandated education/retraining

These penalties can damage reputations and restrict a physician’s ability to practice medicine. Experienced legal counsel is needed to avoid the harshest outcomes.

Responding to the Initial OPMC Notification

If a physician receives a letter or call notifying them of an OPMC investigation, these steps are recommended:

  • Remain Calm: While unsettling, try not to panic. Many cases are resolved favorably.
  • Gather Information: Understand the exact allegations made against you before acting.
  • Consult a Lawyer: Speak with a NY OPMC defense lawyer before providing statements or records.
  • Cooperate Carefully: Be cooperative with document requests, but avoid interviews without counsel present.
  • Maintain Records: Gather and retain all records, notes or other materials relevant to the allegations.
  • Seek Support: Discuss the situation discreetly with trusted confidants for emotional support.
  • Focus on Patients: Stay focused on providing quality care to patients throughout the process.

Having an experienced advisor guide you through the initial response is critical. Don’t go it alone.

Finding the Right NY OPMC Defense Lawyer for You

If facing OPMC allegations, it’s important to find the right lawyer for your specific situation. Here are some tips:

  • Ask Colleagues for Referrals: Other physicians may know lawyers who handle these cases successfully.
  • Research Experience: Look for a lawyer with extensive OPMC investigation and hearing experience. Verify their track record.
  • Consider Resources: Make sure the lawyer has access to experts, investigators and research tools you may need.
  • Review Disciplinary History: Check that the lawyer has no history of disciplinary issues themselves.
  • Meet for a Consultation: Have an initial consultation to discuss your case and assess if you feel comfortable with the lawyer.
  • Compare Costs: Get fee estimates from multiple lawyers before deciding. Costs vary widely.
  • Go with Your Gut: Pay attention to your instincts when meeting potential lawyers. Trust is important.
  • Act Quickly: Retain counsel as early in the process as possible for the best defense.

Take time to find the right NY OPMC defense lawyer for your needs, but act fast once you do. Time is of the essence.

Conclusion: Protecting Your Reputation and Career

Being investigated by the OPMC can feel overwhelming for physicians, but proper legal guidance can help safeguard your reputation, license and career. Don’t wait to retain counsel – experienced NY OPMC defense lawyers have successfully represented physicians facing disciplinary action for years. They can help minimize penalties and allow you to continue providing quality care for patients. Reach out for a consultation as soon as you are notified of an investigation. With the right defense strategy and counsel, the situation can likely be resolved favorably.

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