The Lento Law Firm Defends Alabama Physician's Licenses
Alabama can be a great state in which to practice medicine. Huntsville, Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, and Tuscaloosa are all good-sized population centers, each with their own distinctive economy, culture, and arts, from government centers to education, technology, manufacturing, and agricultural centers. Alabama also has several fine hospitals and health systems within which to practice as a physician. UAB at Birmingham Hospital, Huntsville Hospital, Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, DCH Regional Medical Center, and Princeton Baptist Medical Center each have more than five-hundred hospital beds, placing them among the nation's largest hospitals.
As an Alabama-licensed physician, you have great opportunities to build your medical practice and advance your medical career. But pursuing those opportunities while reaping their rewards depends on maintaining your physician's license with the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and Medical Licensure Commission. Lose your Alabama medical license to misconduct charges, and you will lose your Alabama medical practice, job, and career while facing similar license issues in every other state.
If you face license disciplinary charges before the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, then you need to retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team to preserve and protect your medical practice, job, and career. Our attorneys are available to defend you in Huntsville, Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, and any other Alabama city or location, for your practice with any Alabama hospital, clinic, or other healthcare provider. Call 888.535.3686 or chat with us now for Alabama physician disciplinary defense.
Alabama Physician Licensure
Alabama's Board of Medical Examiners and Medical Licensure Commission licenses both medical doctors (MDs) and doctors of osteopathy (DOs). The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners offers full, limited, and special-purpose licenses. Alabama also participates in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, providing physicians entering Alabama with a medical license in another Compact jurisdiction the opportunity for an expedited pathway for a Compact medical license. You must gain and retain a license from the Board of Medical Examiners to practice medicine in Alabama.
Alabama Physician Licensing Authority
Alabama's Medical Practice Act, codified in Alabama Code Sections 34-24-50, et seq., authorizes the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and Medical Licensure Commission to issue and renew the above licenses only to physicians who comply with the act's rules and standards. The Medical Practice Act defines the practice of medicine or osteopathy, prohibits practicing medicine or osteopathy in Alabama without an Alabama medical license, and authorizes the Board of Medical Examiners to proceed against any physician or other person who attempts to practice without a current license in good standing. The act further authorizes the Board of Medical Examiners to adopt rules and procedures to enforce its licensing authority. Article 8 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act further authorizes the Medical Licensure Commission and its Board of Medical Examiners to enforce the act's specific licensing requirements. The Board of Medical Examiners and Medical Licensure Commission have the state's full authority to issue, refuse, suspend, and revoke medical licenses. Do not ignore or treat a licensing action lightly.
Alabama Physician Regulatory Authority
If you receive an Alabama medical license disciplinary notice, trust that the state licensing officials who serve that notice have the authority to take their threatened action. Division 3 of Article 8 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act authorizes the Medical Licensure Commission's rules and procedures for suspension and revocation of Alabama physician's licenses. Section 34-24-360 lists the many grounds on which the Medical Licensure Commission may suspend or revoke a medical license. Section 34-24-361 requires physicians and osteopaths holding an Alabama medical license to report other licensed physicians and osteopaths who may have committed one of the Medical Practice Act's many grounds for discipline. The same section authorizes the Board of Medical Examiners to investigate the misconduct allegations, initiate a formal disciplinary hearing, and recommend sanctions to the Medical Licensure Commission.
Alabama Physician Disciplinary Actions
If you receive an Alabama medical license disciplinary notice, you should also appreciate that the state licensing officials issuing that notice do take disciplinary actions against Alabama-licensed physicians. Alabama's Board of Medical Examiners regularly exercises the above authority to discipline licensed physicians. The Board of Medical Examiners publishes disciplinary actions online, including the disciplined physician's name, license number, and form of discipline. The Board's online disciplinary portal invites the public to examine detailed records of the disciplined physicians' specific wrongs. Those wrongs, published in each individual record of discipline, include everything from alcohol and drug abuse interfering with medical duties to the mismanagement of patient conditions, inappropriate prescribing of controlled substances, misrepresentations of continuing medical education on license renewal applications, and many other violations of Alabama medical rules and standards. Don't give up if you receive disciplinary notice, but treat the notice seriously. Retain our premier License Defense Team.
Alabama Physician Disciplinary Sanctions
Section 34-24-361 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act lists the several sanctions the Board of Medical Examiners may recommend to the Medical Licensure Commission when the Board finds that a physician committed misconduct. The Board first has the authority to enter a judgment against the physician. That judgment may include the license's suspension or revocation. The Board may suspend a physician's license on the condition that the physician submits to mental or physical examination and testing. The Board may alternatively place the physician on probation while requiring the physician to "submit to care, counseling, or treatment by physicians designated by the commission." The Board may also require the physician to pay the costs, fees, and expenses of the disciplinary proceeding. Disciplined physicians must petition the Board for relief and reinstatement. If you face disciplinary notice, don't underestimate the Board's power to impose discipline that could cripple and even end your medical practice.
Nationwide Stakes of Alabama Physician Discipline
Because Alabama recognizes the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, your discipline in Alabama will affect your licensure or license application in other Compact states. The majority of U.S. states, including populous states like Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Georgia, are participating Compact states. Other populous states, like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Missouri, are implementing Compact legislation. If you lose your Alabama medical license to discipline, you will lose your reciprocal right to obtain a medical license in all those Compact states. You can also lose your right to a medical license in non-Compact states like California when you report your Alabama discipline on your application for a license in those other states. In short, Alabama medical license discipline can mean the end of your medical career across the U.S. Don't succumb to the charges. Retain our premier Professional License Defense Team to defend you anywhere in Alabama.
Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act lists the grounds on which the Board of Medical Examiners may recommend discipline to the Medical Licensure Commission. Alabama Board of Medical Examiner Administrative Regulations interpret those grounds for physician or osteopath discipline. Consider the listed grounds, their definitions, and how our premier License Defense Team can help you defend charges on any of those grounds.
Credentials Fraud as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
Fraud in "applying for or procuring a certificate of qualification to practice medicine or osteopathy or a license to practice medicine or osteopathy in the State of Alabama" is the first grounds for discipline that Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act sets forth. Credentials fraud could include misrepresenting your medical education, your residency, or your licensure in other states to gain your first license. Credentials fraud could also include misrepresenting your continuing medical education, malpractice lawsuits, criminal convictions, or other information on your renewal application, among other similar wrongs.
Defending credentials fraud charges may depend on proving that your representations were accurate or that any misrepresentations or misleading omissions were innocent. Published disciplinary reports indicate that Alabama's Board of Medical Examiners will consider the accused physician's knowledge and intent when imposing discipline for credentials fraud. Innocent mistakes on a renewal application, for instance, may, with appropriate advocacy from our Defense Team, result in a reprimand or no discipline, depending on the circumstances. Credentials fraud charges are serious but may warrant a factual defense.
Unprofessional Conduct as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
"Unprofessional conduct" is the next ground for discipline Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act sets forth. Unprofessional conduct can include a wide list of disruptive behaviors contrary to the professional norms and customs of the medical profession. Inappropriate dress, such as a dirty or slovenly appearance; inappropriate demeanor, such as rude and offensive words and actions; poor personal hygiene; inappropriate sexual advances or relations with patients; and intimidation or harassment, including sexual harassment of colleagues, can all fall within the broad definition of unprofessional conduct. Defending unprofessional conduct charges can require identifying, collecting, and presenting substantial evidence contradicting any evidence supporting the charges while cross-examining opposing witnesses as to their observations. Defense can also include presenting expert testimony on acceptable professional norms.
Medical Mismanagement as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
"Practicing medicine or osteopathy in such a manner as to endanger the health of the patients of the practitioner" is the next ground for discipline Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act sets forth. Medical mismanagement can include patient neglect, misdiagnosis, misprescribing or overprescribing medications, and other common or uncommon departures from the customs and practices of minimally competent physicians and osteopaths. Medical professionals treat sick patients. Patients and their family members may complain of medical mismanagement that instead simply represents the irreversible course of the disease.
Alabama Board of Medical Examiners administrative regulations define proper medical management as "those procedures and steps as undertaken by a reasonably competent and well-trained physician in the treatment of the medical condition of a patient giving due consideration to the potential risk of harmful side effects, including addiction to the drug or other medication in question." Defense of medical mismanagement charges may thus involve presenting expert testimony that the physician's medical judgments were within the broader customs of competent practice. Defense may also prove that the allegations of mismanagement are factually untrue or that other medical professionals were responsible for the alleged failures.
Criminal Conviction as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
Certain criminal convictions are the next grounds for discipline Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act sets forth. Conviction of any felony may do. Alternatively, a conviction of any crime that "reflects the inability of the practitioner to practice medicine or osteopathy with due regard for the health or safety of his or her patients" will also do. So, too, will conviction "for any violation of a federal or state law relating to controlled substances."
Because a certified record of the conviction establishes the grounds without proving the underlying acts constituting the crime, you should not plead guilty to any crime without first consulting our Professional License Defense Team as to how your plea and conviction may affect your medical license. If you have already suffered a conviction, we may be able to help you show the Board of Medical Examiners that your conviction does not fall within the above categories.
Deceptive Advertising as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
Deceptive advertising, defined as the "use of any untruthful or deceptive or improbable statements concerning the licensee's qualifications or the effects or results of his or her proposed treatment," is the next ground for discipline under Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act. Defense of deceptive advertising charges often involves proving that the physician did not make the statement that the patient or other complainant alleges or that the statement was substantially true in the context made.
Inappropriate Prescribing as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
Inappropriate prescribing, defined as "distribution by prescribing, dispensing, furnishing, or supplying of controlled substances to any person or patient for any reason other than a legitimate medical purpose," is the next ground for discipline under Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act. Defense may involve proving that the physician did not prescribe the drugs as alleged or that others did so without the physician's involvement. If the physician prescribed the medication as disciplinary officials allege, then defense of inappropriate prescribing charges may come down to proving that the prescribing was for a legitimate medical purpose. Alabama Board of Medical Examiners administrative regulations define a legitimate medical purpose as "a therapeutic treatment regimen or program generally recognized and accepted in the field of medical science as being safe and effective in the diagnosis, treatment, correction or alleviation of the specific medical condition of the patient under all relevant circumstances." Expert testimony obtained by our Defense Team may help establish the prescribing as an appropriate therapeutic regimen.
Gross Malpractice as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
"Gross malpractice or repeated malpractice or gross negligence in the practice of medicine or osteopathy" is the next ground for discipline under Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act. Ordinary malpractice, meaning any simple departure from customary practice causing patient injury, is not sufficient to meet this ground. The malpractice must be gross, suggesting an exaggerated and obvious departure from customary practice, causing serious patient injury. Thus, malpractice settlements and judgments should not alone establish this ground for discipline. Defense of a gross-malpractice charge may thus involve expert testimony that any departure the physician made from customary practice was not exaggerated or obvious and was not the cause of serious patient injury, which may, instead, have been an irreversible course of the disease.
Fee Division as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
"Division of fees or agreement to split or divide the fees received for professional services with any person for bringing or referring a patient" is the next ground for discipline under Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act. Fee division charges often result from bonuses or other contingency payments to colleagues or employees who refer patients. Defense of fee division cases typically involves either showing no fees paid or distinguishing ordinary payments for contractual or employment services from the improper division of fees.
Unnecessary Services as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
"Performance of unnecessary diagnostic tests or medical or surgical services" is the next ground for discipline under Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act. Unnecessary services disciplinary charges are often best defended with the physician's own testimony as to the medical reason for the disputed tests or services, bolstered by expert testimony that the tests and services were within the standard of care.
Fraudulent Billing as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
"Charging fees determined by the commission to be grossly excessive or intentionally filing or causing to be filed false or fraudulent claims … to any private or government third party payor having a legal or contractual obligation to pay such claims on behalf of a patient" is the next ground for discipline under Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act. "Conviction of fraud in filing Medicare or Medicaid claims or conviction of fraud in filing claims to any third party payor" is a related ground. Fraudulent-billing charges are often best defended with evidence that the physician did not charge the allegedly excessive fees or submit the allegedly fraudulent billing or by expert testimony that the fees charged were within the customary charges for those services.
Incapacity as Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act expressly makes incapacity another disciplinary ground, defined as "being unable to practice medicine or osteopathy with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness, inebriation, excessive use of drugs, narcotics, alcohol, chemicals, or any other substance, or as a result of any mental or physical condition." Defense of incapacity charges may include proving the allegations untrue or showing that any such condition did not affect the physician's skills or threaten patient safety. On the other hand, if credible evidence suggests the physician's substance abuse, access to the Alabama Physician Help Program may be appropriate. Do not admit to substance abuse for entry into that or any similar program without first consulting our Defense Team. Program access may require relinquishing or limiting your medical license under terms that cause you to lose your employment and income while making it difficult to regain your license.
Other Grounds for Alabama Physician Discipline
Other grounds for discipline under Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act include aiding or abetting another's unauthorized practice of medicine without a license, discipline of the licensee in another state, or refusing to appear before the Board of Medical Examiners or making a false statement when doing so. Defenses may be available for each of these charges.
Alabama Physician Discipline Proof Standard
Section 34-24-360 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act authorizes the Medical Licensure Commission to impose medical license suspension or revocation "on the basis of substantial evidence" that the physician committed one or more of the above violations. This statutory proof standard is much lower than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" proof standard the state or federal government must meet to prove criminal charges. You may face medical license discipline on evidence that you dispute with exonerating evidence and mitigating factors. The Commission's authority to discipline you even when the facts are in dispute makes your representation by our premier Professional License Defense Team all the more important. Do not retain an unqualified local criminal defense team who does not know how to address this critical difference in the proof standard.
Alabama Physician Disciplinary Procedures
Section 34-24-361 of Alabama's Medical Practice Act includes the procedures for the Board of Medical Examiners to issue and decide disciplinary charges. Those procedures must provide constitutional due process protecting your property and liberty rights to your medical license. Those procedures guarantee you reasonable notice and a fair hearing to tell your side of the story disputing the charges. You also have rights of review by the Medical Licensure Commission and other limited rights to court review of the administrative decision. Don't misconstrue a disciplinary charge as an inevitable disciplinary sanction. Let our License Defense Team help.
Premier Alabama Physician Defense Available
The Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team is available to physicians in Huntsville, Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, and any other Alabama location, including for physicians practicing at UAB at Birmingham Hospital, Huntsville Hospital, Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, DCH Regional Medical Center, Princeton Baptist Medical Center, and other Alabama medical facilities. Hundreds of professionals nationwide have trusted the Lento Law Firm for their best outcome to disciplinary charges. Call 888.535.3686 or chat with us now.