The Lento Law Firm Defends Ohio Physician's Licenses
If you are a physician practicing in Ohio, then you know the benefits of a medical practice in the great Buckeye State. Ohio has substantial population centers in and around Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, and Dayton, among other cities. Ohio also has large, top-flight hospitals and medical systems in those metropolitan areas. The biggest of those medical centers include Cleveland Clinic's Main Campus, OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Ohio State University Hospital, and Promedica Toledo Hospital, several of which have over 1,000 beds.
You know the professional and financial opportunities available to you. But you also know that all those substantial medical-practice opportunities depend on your retaining your Ohio medical license. If you face State Medical Board of Ohio disciplinary charges, you must successfully address and defend those charges if you expect to enjoy the benefits of your Ohio medical practice or even to practice medicine in another jurisdiction.
License disciplinary charges raise substantial questions about the best defense strategy. Retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team for your most effective and strategic defense to State Medical Board of Ohio disciplinary charges. We are available to defend you in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, and any other Ohio city or location, to help you preserve your practice in any Ohio hospital, clinic, or medical center. Call 888.535.3686 or chat with us now for Ohio physician disciplinary defense.
State Medical Board of Ohio Licensure
The State Medical Board of Ohio licenses allopathic physicians (MDs), osteopathic physicians (DOs), podiatric physicians (DPMs), and massage therapists (LMTs) under the state's Medical Practices Act, Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4731. You must obtain and retain a medical license from the Board to practice medicine in the state. If you face license disciplinary charges, your dispute is with the State Medical Board of Ohio, not merely with the complaining party. You must respond effectively to the Board's disciplinary procedures.
Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
Ohio is also among the thirty-one states participating in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. Section 4731.10 of the state's Medical Practices Act authorizes the State Medical Board of Ohio to certify your Ohio medical licensure to another participating Compact state. Ohio's top-level participation enables you, an Ohio-licensed physician, to obtain a license in another participating state through expedited procedures. But you must retain your Ohio medical license to gain those reciprocal privileges. If you lose your Ohio license to discipline, then you lose interstate licensure privileges. You have not just your Ohio practice but your practice across the country to protect when facing an Ohio disciplinary proceeding. Don't underestimate what you have at stake.
State Medical Board of Ohio Licensing Authority
Section 4731.08 of Ohio's Medical Practices Act requires anyone who intends to practice medicine in Ohio to apply to the State Medical Board: "Each person who desires to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery in this state shall file with the secretary of the state medical board a written application for admission to the examination conducted by the board…." Section 4731.14 permits the Board to issue an Ohio medical license only to candidates who meet the Board's requirements for licensure. Section 4731.20 expressly grants to the Board the powers and duties necessary to enforce its licensing standards. Your right and privilege to practice medicine in Ohio depends on the Board's continuing approval.
State Medical Board of Ohio Regulatory Authority
If you face disciplinary charges alleging your misconduct relating to the practice of medicine in Ohio, the State Medical Board of Ohio has the statutory and regulatory authority to follow through with discipline. Section 4731.22 of the state's Medical Practices Act authorizes the Board to suspend or revoke a physician's license whenever the Board finds that the physician committed any of the enumerated forms of misconduct or violated any of the Board's standards.
State Medical Board of Ohio Disciplinary Actions
The State Medical Board of Ohio regularly uses its statutory and regulatory authority to discipline Ohio physicians. The Board publishes disciplinary actions online in month-by-month reports. Those reports do more than name the physician and license number and the form of discipline, including suspension or revocation of the medical license. Those reports also detail the wrongs that the Board found the physician committed. Public review of those online reports shows physicians found to have committed sex offenses, insurance billing fraud, patient abuse, and other violations of the state's Medical Practices Act, the Board's standards, and medical ethics. But a disciplinary charge is not a finding of misconduct. You must timely respond to the charge, or the Board may default you, meaning that it may find that you committed the alleged misconduct that you did not, in fact, commit. Retain our premier License Defense Team to help you respond to the charge.
Ohio Physician Disciplinary Sanctions
Section 4731.22 of the state's Medical Practices Act names the actions the State Medical Board of Ohio may take against a physician whom it finds violated the Act. Those actions include that the Board "may limit, revoke, or suspend an individual's certificate to practice, refuse to grant a certificate to an individual, refuse to renew a certificate, refuse to reinstate a certificate, or reprimand or place on probation the holder of a certificate" to practice medicine in the state. The Board's regulation at Ohio Admin. Code Section 4731-13-36 elaborates that the Board may require a suspended physician to accept counseling, education, or training, undergo physical or mental examination, and satisfy other conditions before license reinstatement if license reinstatement is even available.
The State Medical Board's broad authority to discipline for alleged misconduct should raise sufficient concern to retain the best available defense services. Yet the very breadth of that disciplinary authority can give skilled our premier Defense Team opportunities to seek early voluntary dismissal of the disciplinary charges. The Board's broad authority to accept remedial actions in lieu of formal discipline could be the opening you need to resolve serious disciplinary charges without losing your license. Disciplinary officials know the investment physicians make in their medical practice. They also know the value of a skilled physician's services. Let our Defense Team help you explore win-win resolutions through our prompt, sensitive, and diplomatic communications with disciplinary officials.
Grounds for State Medical Board of Ohio Discipline
Section 4731.22 of the state's Medical Practices Act specifies the grounds on which the State Medical Board of Ohio may discipline a physician. Those grounds are extraordinarily broad. But defense may be available to any of the alleged grounds, depending on your facts and circumstances. And disciplinary officials must ground their allegations against you in one or more of the enumerated grounds. Consider each of the statutory grounds and how our Defense Team may be able to help you successfully defend and defeat the charges.
Credentials Fraud as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's first ground for discipline involves the Board finding that the physician "committed fraud during the administration of the examination for a certificate to practice or to have committed fraud, misrepresentation, or deception in applying for, renewing, or securing any certificate to practice issued by the board…." Credentials fraud may involve allegations of cheating on the licensing exam, using unauthorized material during the exam, misrepresenting one's education or residency on the licensing application, or concealing a conviction, substance abuse issue, or malpractice lawsuit on a renewal application.
Credentials fraud can be a serious charge because the Board may conclude either that the physician lacked the requisite knowledge and skills or exhibited such dishonesty as to be untrustworthy as to the responsibilities of practice. An effective defense may involve showing that you did not cheat, that you made no misrepresentations and that any misstatements or omissions were innocent of any deceptive intent.
Unauthorized Practice as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's next ground for discipline involves the Board finding that the physician permitted another to use the physician's name or certificate to practice "when the individual concerned is not actually directing the treatment given…." Requesting, encouraging, or allowing a nurse, aide, or other individual to practice medicine without authorization and without protective safeguards and supervision can be a serious charge because of the risk of patient injury. Defense may involve showing that you did not encourage or acquiesce in the unauthorized practice, was not aware of it, and thus had no duty to prevent or report it.
Substandard Practice as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's next ground for discipline involves the Board finding that the physician failed "to maintain minimal standards applicable to the selection or administration of drugs, or fail[ed] to employ acceptable scientific methods in the selection of drugs or other modalities for treatment of disease." Another section of the same statute prohibits "a departure from, or the failure to conform to, minimal standards of care of similar practitioners under the same or similar circumstances, whether or not actual injury to a patient is established." Substandard practice may involve serious and obvious departures from customary practice, usually ones that result in serious injury. While patient injury is not necessary, referral for discipline is less likely in the absence of injury. Malpractice lawsuits and judgments may trigger disciplinary action on this ground.
Defense of disciplinary charges involving alleged substandard practice can be complex. It may involve retaining a defense medical expert to testify that your medical practice was within the bounds of customary care and professional judgment and that any adverse event was due to other circumstances or the ordinary course of the disease. Defense may also involve proving that you did not do as the officials allege, that complaining witnesses lack credibility, or that others were responsible for the patient's care and any substandard practice.
Drug Violations as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's next ground for discipline involves the Board finding that the physician was responsible for "selling, giving away, personally furnishing, prescribing, or administering drugs for other than legal and legitimate therapeutic purposes or a plea of guilty to, a judicial finding of guilt of, or a judicial finding of eligibility for intervention in lieu of conviction of, a violation of any federal or state law regulating the possession, distribution, or use of any drug." A related section prohibits "impairment of ability to practice according to acceptable and prevailing standards of care because of habitual or excessive use or abuse of drugs, alcohol, or other substances that impair ability to practice."
Drug violations can be serious charges because of the risk to patients and the public from drug misuse, abuse, and diversions. Drug violations can also carry an implication of dishonesty. Defense to drug-related disciplinary charges may involve showing that someone other than you was responsible for the wrongs. Proving the complaining witness lacks the foundation for testifying to the wrongs or lacks credibility because of disability or interest can also help defend drug-related disciplinary charges.
If the disciplinary charges involve allegations of substance abuse, then you may qualify for the Ohio Physicians Health Program (OhioPHP), also known as the one-bite program. Section 4731.32 authorizes interim relief from disciplinary charges for qualifying physicians who enter the one-bite program. Do not accept a one-bite program referral without consulting with us. To participate, you may have to admit to the disciplinary charges, which could affect your medical practice and career. You may not need the program's services. You may also be able to defend the charges on their merits rather than accept a one-bite referral. And if you are unable or unwilling to meet onerous program conditions, then you may lose your license despite the referral. Consult our Defense Team.
Willful Breach of Confidences as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's next ground for discipline involves the Board finding the physician responsible for "willfully betraying a professional confidence." The Act exempts reporting child or elder abuse and other mandated reports. Violation of HIPAA regulations without intent may not constitute the necessary willfulness. Defense of the charges may thus involve proving that you did not have the necessary purposeful intent to breach known confidences. Defense may alternatively involve showing that you were not responsible for any breach.
False Advertising as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's next ground for discipline involves the Board finding the physician responsible for "making a false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading statement in the solicitation of or advertising for patients." False advertising may involve making false assurances of a cure. Indeed, the following section prohibits "representing, with the purpose of obtaining compensation or other advantage as personal gain or for any other person, that an incurable disease or injury, or other incurable condition, can be permanently cured." Defense may involve showing that you did not say what the complaining witness claims, that the witness lacks credibility or is mentally impaired, or that your statements in their context were not false but substantially accurate.
Crimes as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's next ground for discipline involves the Board finding that the physician committed certain crimes or acts that authorities could charge as crimes. The statute lists these qualifying convictions or acts worthy of conviction:
- a plea of guilty to, a judicial finding of guilt of, or a judicial finding of eligibility for intervention in lieu of conviction for, a felony, or commission of such an act;
- a plea of guilty to, a judicial finding of guilt of, or a judicial finding of eligibility for intervention in lieu of conviction for, a misdemeanor committed in the course of practice, or commission of such an act;
- a plea of guilty to, a judicial finding of guilt of, or a judicial finding of eligibility for intervention in lieu of conviction for, a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or commission of such an act.
Examples of felony convictions include attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, sexual assault, robbery, arson, and kidnapping. Examples of misdemeanors that a physician may commit in the course of medical practice could include indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, simple assault, and stalking or harassment. Moral turpitude misdemeanors may involve any crime involving deceit or indecency. Defense of criminal wrongs may involve proving that you were not convicted, that the conviction was not a felony, and that the conviction was not a misdemeanor in the course of practice or one involving moral turpitude.
Unprofessional Conduct as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's next ground for discipline involves the Board finding the physician responsible for "violation of any provision of a code of ethics" that the State Medical Board of Ohio recognizes, including the American Medical Association's code of ethics. Unprofessional conduct can be a broad disciplinary ground involving vague and subjective allegations, making it hard to defend for those reasons. Examples include allegations of insubordinate or disrespectful conduct toward colleagues, subordinates, or supervisors, failure to be a "team player," and poor dress, demeanor, or hygiene. In the more serious cases, unprofessional conduct may also include impaired practice, practice under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and sexual relations with patients.
Defense of unprofessionalism charges may require a close examination of the specific details of the grounds to dismiss overly vague charges. Complaining witnesses may also lack credibility or be retaliating unjustly. Defense of unprofessionalism charges may also involve agreements for reassignment to a different supervisor or facility to address personality conflicts and misunderstandings.
Impaired Practice as Grounds for Ohio Physician Discipline
Section 4731.22's next ground for discipline involves the Board finding the physician responsible for "inability to practice according to acceptable and prevailing standards of care by reason of mental illness or physical illness, including, but not limited to, physical deterioration that adversely affects cognitive, motor, or perceptive skills." Impaired practice may involve acute or chronic disease or extraordinary stressors in life interfering with sleep, cognition, and memory, such as the illness or death of a close family member, a divorce or separation, loss of personal property and housing due to fire or flood, or domestic abuse against the physician. Defense may involve proving those extenuating circumstances and showing a recovery plan. Defense may also involve proving the physician's protected disability and the employer's reasonable accommodation which would have removed the alleged impairment.
Ohio Physician Disciplinary Procedures
Fortunately, physicians facing state disciplinary charges threatening to affect their property and liberty interest in their medical license have constitutional protections. The State Medical Board of Ohio must provide you with due process, meaning fair notice of the disciplinary charges and the evidence against you, and a fair hearing before an impartial decision maker to dispute those charges. Ohio Admin. Code Chapter 4731-13 carries the Board's obligations into effect. Chapter 4731-13 provides you with abundant protective procedures, including advance written notice of the charges, the opportunity to review the officials' evidence, a prehearing conference to ensure appropriate notice and procedures, and a full hearing before the Board's hearing officer. Witnesses must testify under oath subject to cross-examination.
When you retain our Professional License Defense Team, we can invoke those protective procedures on your behalf for your best outcome to disciplinary charges. We can research and draft legal briefs, present your witnesses, and cross-examine adverse witnesses. We can also negotiate with disciplinary officials for alternative special relief. And if you have already suffered an adverse finding, we may be able to appeal that finding while seeking other available court or administrative review.
Premier Defense Team Available in Ohio
The Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team is available for your disciplinary defense in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, and any other Ohio location. We can help you whether you practice at Cleveland Clinic's Main Campus, OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Ohio State University Hospital, Promedica Toledo Hospital, or another Ohio medical facility. 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.