It’s not uncommon for a physician to receive a letter from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine regarding a past patient who has filed a complaint about services or experience in the office. It happens regularly when patients are upset, and it takes very little to make many people angry or offended anymore. Most doctors don’t remember the patient off the top of their head having treated so many patients over the course of their career, but it’s frustrating anyone would file a complaint and put the physician’s license in jeopardy of suspension or revocation.
When notification of a formal complaint is sent to a physician in Boston, it’s stressful. It’s also the best time to call a physician license defense attorney. An experienced attorney provides assistance in a confusing and stressful time. This can increase the physician’s chances of success at the end of the investigation without taking them away from patients any longer than necessary.
Common Physician Complaints
Most unhappy patients feel personally victimized. Perhaps the physician was unable to save the life of a loved one or provide them with the outcome they expected. Patients might feel they can take a small moment and turn it into a quick payday. Whatever it is, the physician is now required to respond to the letter of investigation with a proper response. The most common reasons a person might complain include:
– Malpractice: If a patient feels the doctor didn’t practice according to the law, they will file a complaint of this variety.
– Fraud: This often occurs when a doctor submits duplicate billing, healthcare fraud, or charges patients for procedures not used.
– Practicing while impaired: Drugs or alcohol addiction are grounds for license removal, especially if the physician was under the influence while he or she was working.
– Criminal convictions: If a physician was charged with criminal activity, it doesn’t matter if it was outside of the work place. They’re liable to lose their license.
– Discrimination: Anyone can accuse a physician of discriminating based on age, race, gender, religious beliefs, or even sexual orientation when they’re unhappy with the outcome of their case.
– Sexual misconduct: Any patient who wants to accuse a physician of sexual misconduct is capable of doing so.
– Improper treatment: This occurs when a physician uses methods that aren’t legal, ethical, or appropriate for a specific patient.
– Unexpected treatment: Many patients go into the office expecting one treatment and end up leaving having gone through another. Without their consent, this is considered a legal issue.
Many of the claims submitted to the board are ruled as inadmissible and thrown out before the ever make it to the investigation phase. When an investigation is launched, physicians have more to worry about.
When the board is finished with its investigation, it’s time to decide upon disciplinary actions. If a physician is found guilty, there are several forms of punishment that could be handed down.
1. Fines – Most fines begin at $10,000 and increase depending on the crime and the counts the physician is found guilty of.
2. Restitution – This is repayment of any money taken as a result of fraud from the government, insurance agencies, and patients.
3. Probation – A physician with a substance abuse problem might be put on probation while he or she seeks medical help to begin recovery.
4. License Suspension – Licenses can be suspended for any length of time, and physicians might have to handle a number of legal issues before their license is reinstated.
5. Prison Time – If a physician is convicted of a crime or federal offense, he or she might face up to 5 years in prison for each count.
6. License Revocation – In some cases, a physician will lose his or her license to practice medicine within the state forever.
Formal investigations have a negative impact on physicians in terms of their patients and their reputation. It’s imperative each investigation is handled legally, which is where an experienced attorney becomes necessary. The first thing a physician should do when he or she receives a letter explaining the investigation process is contact a license defense attorney to help get through the process.