We Defend Arizona Physicians Licenses
Arizona offers a spectacular and varied natural environment, a desirable climate, large population centers with rich culture, entertainment, and arts, and other advantages for a physician wishing to build and maintain a thriving medical practice. Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Peoria, Scottsdale, Glendale, Gilbert, and other locations have large enough populations and well-equipped medical facilities to support a flourishing medical practice. Banner-University Medical Centers in Phoenix and Tucson, Tucson Medical Center, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Valleywise Health Medical Center, and Banner Thunderbird Medical Center are among the several other hospitals, each having more than five-hundred beds.
As an Arizona-licensed physician, you have abundant professional opportunities available to you. But those opportunities generally depend on maintaining your medical license in good standing. If you lose your Arizona medical license to Arizona Medical Board disciplinary charges, you won't enjoy the many benefits of medical practice in the state. You may also lose reciprocal practice privileges in other U.S. states, leaving you without the rewards for which you studied and worked.
Any physician facing license disciplinary charges is likely to have many questions about how to defend those charges for the best possible outcome. Retaining the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team is your first and best step toward that outcome. We are available to defend you whether you practice in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Peoria, Scottsdale, Glendale, Gilbert, or another Arizona location. Let us help you preserve your Arizona hospital, clinic, or medical office practice. Call 888.535.3686 or chat with us now for Arizona medical license disciplinary defense.
Arizona Medical Board Licensure
The Arizona Medical Board licenses allopathic physicians (MDs) to practice medicine in the state. A physician wishing to practice medicine in Arizona must meet the Medical Board's statutory requirements for licensure, found at Arizona Statute Section 32-1422. Those requirements include, among other things, earning the requisite medical degree, completing the required year-long residency, proving one's physical and mental fitness to practice medicine, and submitting an accurate and complete application. You know how hard you worked to qualify for your Arizona medical license. Don't lose it to disciplinary charges. Get our help.
Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
You may have earned your first medical license in Arizona. Or you may have qualified for your Arizona medical license by reciprocity, through the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. Arizona Statute Section 32-1426 authorizes the Arizona Medical Board to grant you an Arizona medical license by endorsement, if you have already earned a medical license in a state that also offers reciprocity. That's the good news, that Arizona facilitates your movement from state to state for medical practice. The bad news is that discipline in Arizona could cause you to lose a reciprocal license or privilege to license in another state, effectively preventing you from practicing medicine across the U.S. Your stakes when facing Arizona Medical Board disciplinary charges are high. Don't ignore or minimize your risks. Let us help you defend and defeat the charges now rather than facing the implication of Arizona discipline later in another state.
Arizona Medical Board Licensing Authority
Arizona's state legislature made perfectly clear in Arizona Statute 32-1422 that only the Arizona Medical Board has the authority to license you to practice medicine in Arizona. If you do not satisfy the board's licensure requirements, you will not get to practice medicine in the state. One of those requirements is that you maintain “a professional record that indicates that the applicant has not committed any act or engaged in any conduct that would constitute grounds for disciplinary action….” Under Arizona Statute 32-1430, you must also renew your Arizona medical license every other year, each time showing that you continue to meet all requirements including that you have not committed acts that would be grounds for discipline. To gain, hold, and renew your Arizona medical license, you must avoid discipline. Let us help.
Arizona Medical Board Regulatory Authority
Do not doubt the authority of the Arizona Medical Board to impose discipline on a complaint that you have not met the Medical Board's standards for licensure. Arizona's state legislature has, under Arizona Statute 32-1451, expressly granted the Medical Board the authority to discipline its licensed physicians. The same statute authorizes the board not only to investigate complaints, hold hearings, and make findings, but also to impose a wide range of disciplinary sanctions all the way up to license revocation. In short, the Arizona Medical Board doesn't just issue and renew licenses. It also suspends and revokes them. Just because you have a medical license doesn't mean you get to keep it. Beware disciplinary charges. Get our help.
Arizona Medical Board Disciplinary Actions
When the Arizona Medical Board receives a complaint, investigates, finds misconduct, and imposes disciplinary action against one of its licensed physicians, the Medical Board publishes its disciplinary action on its website for anyone to see. The Medical Board's published list shows the large number of Arizona physicians who have suffered all forms of discipline right up to and including license revocation. When the Medical Board publishes the disciplinary action, it includes not only the physician's name and the nature of the discipline but also the findings on which it imposed the discipline. If you suffer Arizona Medical Board discipline, you won't be able to hide the grounds for the discipline or the nature of the discipline. Your employer, colleagues, patients, patients' family members, and your own family, friends, and acquaintances may read of your discipline. So, too, may licensing officials in other states to which you might hope to move your medical practice. Don't assume you can keep discipline confidential. You generally cannot do so. Let us help you defend the charges.
Arizona Physician Disciplinary Sanctions
Under Arizona Statute Section 32-1451, the Arizona Medical Board may impose a range of sanctions against you and your medical license. Those sanctions are progressive in nature. They include first requiring that you take additional educational courses, then issuing you an advisory letter or letter of reprimand, and, beyond those preliminary sanctions, entering into consent agreements with you for rehabilitative counseling or treatment, issuing a censure decree, imposing probation with conditions you must satisfy, restricting your license, suspending your license, or revoking your license.
While you should be concerned by the breadth and severity of the potential sanctions, also recognize that the Arizona Medical Board's broad authority to fashion appropriate relief may give you an opportunity to avoid discipline that would cripple your professional practice. When you retain us to represent you in disciplinary proceedings, you give us the opportunity to discern, propose, and negotiate for alternative relief that both satisfies the Medical Board in its obligation to protect patients and the public, while also preserving your privilege to practice medicine, including to retain your employment, income, and reputation. You are right to take the potential sanctions seriously. You would be wrong to assume that disciplinary charges automatically mean a career-crippling sanction. Let us help you preserve your medical license and practice.
Grounds for Arizona Medical Board Discipline
Under Arizona Statute Section 32-1451, the Medical Board must have one or more of the statute's enumerated grounds to impose discipline against you. The Medical Board's disciplinary officials cannot just make up the grounds. They must tie their charges, evidence, and findings to one of the statute's enumerated grounds. Those grounds are, on the other hand, broad. They give the Arizona Medical Board wide discretion to find or not to find misconduct, based on the interpretation their disciplinary officials give to the statute's stated grounds. That discretion highlights once again why you should retain our premier License Defense Team to help you defend your disciplinary charges. Consider each of Section 32-1451's enumerated grounds, along with how we may be able to help you defend those charges.
Inability to Practice as Grounds for Arizona Physician Discipline
Arizona Statute Section 32-1451 provides for discipline up to license suspension or revocation when the licensed physician “is or may be mentally or physically unable to safely engage in the practice of medicine.” Because the diagnostic and healing arts are their skill and training, physicians generally know the kinds of mental and physical conditions that impair practice. Those conditions may include frank disease, whether acute, chronic, or degenerative, serious injury, and temporary or enduring disabilities due to extraordinary stresses interfering with sleep, health, and cognition. Divorce, death in the family, illness or injury of a child, spouse, or other loved one, financial reverses, and any number of other serious life events may contribute to the impairment.
Disciplinary officials take impaired practice seriously because of the patient's risk. Defenses may include proof that the accused physician was not impaired, that the appearance of impairment was due to misunderstanding, mistaken observations, or temporary conditions already corrected, that the impairment was not of a mental or physical attribute necessary to safe medical practice, that the impairment has abated, or that the impairment would not interfere with safe medical practice if an employer reasonably accommodated it as disability laws require.
Medical Incompetence as Grounds for Arizona Physician Discipline
Arizona Statute Section 32-1451 provides for discipline up to license suspension or revocation when the licensed physician “is or may be medically incompetent.” This statutory reference to medical incompetence clearly intends to invoke failures in the licensed physician's education, training, or skill, not a medical disability of the physician, which the prior section addresses. Medical incompetence means an endangering departure from customary, accepted medical practice. Medical malpractice lawsuits and liability may trigger an incompetence charge, although disciplinary officials would not require proof of patient injury if the departure from practice was nonetheless endangering patients.
Examples of medical incompetence could include mistaken diagnosis, failure to diagnose, incorrect treatment, wrong prescription orders, and failure to follow up, accurately record, and properly interpret images and test results. Defending incompetence charges may require retaining a defense medical expert to review the practice and testify that it falls within the standard of care for acceptable medical judgment. Defense may also require proving that the accused physician was not responsible for the patient's care or offered and provided care that the patient declined or rejected.
Unprofessional Conduct as Grounds for Arizona Physician Discipline
Arizona Statute Section 32-1451 provides for discipline up to license suspension or revocation when the licensed physician “is or may be guilty of unprofessional conduct.” Unprofessional conduct is a broad category that could include any misconduct that medical codes of ethics or customs prohibit, discourage, or condemn. The breadth of the category can make accusations hard to defend because of subjectivity in interpreting what is outside of acceptable customs. Examples of unprofessional conduct could include disputes with colleagues, supervisors, or subordinates evidencing disrespect, not being a “team player,” having inappropriate dress or demeanor, or more serious issues involving sexual relations with patients, violence toward patients, or criminal convictions relating to violence, other endangering behavior, moral turpitude, or matters bringing shame to the profession.
Defending charges of unprofessionalism depends on the nature of the charges but may require showing that the customs are inadequately defined, that the accused physician did not engage in behavior clearly beyond any reasonable bounds, that the complaining witness lacks credibility or is retaliating, or that the behavior was a temporary, one-time, excusable incident due to anomalous factors no longer present. An unexpected medication reaction would be an example.
Substance Abuse as Grounds for Arizona Physician Discipline
Substance abuse could also contribute to an impairment in a physician's ability to practice or constitute unprofessional conduct, particularly if the physician attempts to practice while under the influence. Substance abuse allegations can be serious charges for those reasons and because of the concern over physician access to and misuse of prescription medications as controlled substances. Defense of the charges may involve proof that the physician did not abuse any drug or alcohol, that the witness was mistaken or retaliating, that the appearance of drug or alcohol misuse was instead due to a health or medication issue since corrected, or that the physician has already gotten help for and addressed the addiction.
Arizona Statute Section 32-1452 provides an alternative to discipline when a licensed physician has a substance abuse issue. Such diversion programs are common among the states. However, the risk of a diversion program is that you may have to relinquish your medical license, face its severe restriction, or satisfy program conditions that you cannot or may not meet. Beware offers of diversion. Instead, retain our premier License Defense Team to help you evaluate any such offers and, if diversion is warranted, ensure that you are able to reasonably satisfy the program's terms, that your practice will not suffer interruption, and that your job and career will remain on track. Let us help you negotiate, review, and confirm the appropriate terms of any consent agreement.
Credentials Fraud as Grounds for Arizona Physician Discipline
Arizona Statute Section 32-1452 does not expressly mention credentials fraud among its short list of disciplinary grounds, but credentials fraud would likely be among the permissible grounds for discipline. Physicians who misrepresent their education, licensure, criminal record, and character or fitness when applying for a license or renewing a license may well face disciplinary charges. The Arizona Medical Board designs its license application and renewal forms to require that you disclose potentially disqualifying background and conditions. Deliberately false statements on the forms or intentionally misleading omissions may result in revocation of a license or renewal that the licensing officials would not otherwise have issued.
Concealing a criminal conviction, deliberately failing to report a malpractice judgment or settlement, or failing to disclose a medical condition or substance addiction are examples of credentials fraud. Defense of the charges may require showing that your representations were all accurate, that any inaccuracy was unintentional and would not have affected the application, and that any omissions were likewise unintentional and immaterial.
Unauthorized Practice as Grounds for Arizona Physician Discipline
Other states expressly include engaging or assisting in unauthorized medical practice as a disciplinary grounds. While Arizona Statute Section 32-1452 does not expressly mention unauthorized practice as a disciplinary grounds, the Arizona Medical Board likely has the implied authority for discipline on that basis. Examples could include advising, ordering, or assisting a nurse or aide in the practice of medicine, or practicing yourself before licensed, in the state while licensed only by another state, or after your license expired and before you renewed it. Defense may include proving that you did not authorize or assist in another's unauthorized practice and were not aware of it, that whatever conduct occurred did not constitute the practice of medicine, and that you had your own current license for any medical practice in which you engaged.
Willful Breach of Confidences as Grounds for Arizona Physician Discipline
Some other states include willful breaches of patient confidence among their disciplinary grounds. While Arizona Statute Section 32-1452 does not expressly mention breach of confidence as a disciplinary grounds, the Arizona Medical Board may have authority to include that grounds within its definition of “unprofessional conduct.” Violating HIPAA regulations regarding patient records and information, for instance, by disclosing a patient's medical condition in social media or social conversations, would be an example. Defense may involve showing that the patient authorized the disclosure, that you did not make the alleged disclosure, or that you had emergency or other grounds justifying the disclosure.
Criminal Conviction as Grounds for Arizona Physician Discipline
While Arizona Statute Section 32-1452 does not expressly mention criminal conviction as grounds for discipline, as suggested above, criminal conviction may well fall within the definition of unprofessional conduct and the inability to demonstrate character and fitness for safe practice. Felony criminal convictions, especially for violent crimes like assault, battery, sexual assault, and kidnapping, would be the clearest example of potentially disqualifying convictions. But disciplinary officials may also consider crimes of moral turpitude, meaning both crimes of dishonesty like extortion, embezzlement, theft, and insurance fraud, and crimes of iniquity like child pornography and indecent exposure. Defenses may involve showing that the accused physician did not suffer the conviction, that the court reversed the conviction, that the executive pardoned the conviction, or that the conviction did not qualify as a violent crime or crime of moral turpitude, such that the physician remains qualified for safe medical practice.
Arizona Physician Disciplinary Procedures
If you face Arizona Medical Board disciplinary charges, you will have the opportunity to defend those charges through a fair proceeding that ensures you due process. That is your constitutional right against state action depriving you of the property and liberty interest in your medical license. Arizona Statute Section 32-1451 requires the Arizona Medical Board to give you notice of the disciplinary charges, conduct or offer your informal interview, investigate, evaluate the evidence, and determine whether to proceed with a formal hearing. If the Medical Board determines to proceed with the charge, the same statute incorporates by reference the protections of Arizona administrative procedures. Under Arizona Statute Section 32-1453, you also have the right to judicial review in civil court of the Medical Board's disciplinary decision.
Our Professional License Defense Team can help you invoke all of the above protections. Our attorneys can communicate and negotiate with disciplinary officials on your behalf, help you collect and present evidence, cross-examine adverse witnesses under oath at any hearing, research, draft, and file statements and briefs arguing for the dismissal of charges, and take appeals and pursue court review and litigation as necessary.
Premier License Defense Team Available in Arizona
The Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team is available for your disciplinary defense in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Peoria, Scottsdale, Glendale, Gilbert, or another Arizona location. We can help you whether you practice at Banner-University Medical Center in Phoenix or Tucson, Tucson Medical Center, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Valleywise Health Medical Center, Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, or another Arizona medical facility. Hundreds of medical and other professionals nationwide have trusted the Lento Law Firm for their best outcome to disciplinary charges. Call 888.535.3686 or chat with us now.