If Your Washington, DC Medical License is at Risk, the Lento Law Firm Can Help
Bearing the title of an "M.D." or "D.O." in Washington, DC, signifies your dedication to healing and wellness. It's also a testament to the substantial time, financial investments, and personal sacrifices you've made to establish your career as a physician. You've worked hard to get where you are today, and you've worked equally as hard to build the public's trust. That's precisely why it can be so unsettling to learn that the District of Columbia Board of Medicine is investigating a complaint against you alleging possible misconduct and that your physician's license is now under scrutiny.
Regrettably, your concern is justified. All it may take is a single complaint to disrupt everything you've worked for. The District of Columbia sets high ethical and professional standards for its licensed physicians, and the D.C. Board of Medicine makes public health and safety its top priority. If the Board finds you in violation of state practice standards, they have the authority to enforce disciplinary measures against you, which may include suspending or revoking your license to practice. No license effectively means your career is over.
In times like these, you don't want to entrust such a critical matter to an inexperienced lawyer. Your best hope of keeping your physician's license is to hire a professional license defense attorney with a comprehensive background in defending licensed physicians. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm has a long track record of success with physician license defense, both in D.C. and nationwide. We'll assess your case, advise you on your options, and work to achieve the best possible outcome for you. Contact our offices at 888-535-3686 now to schedule a consultation.
Oversight of Licensed Physicians in Washington, DC
The DC Board of Medicine (sometimes abbreviated "BoMed" or "DCBOM" is responsible for licensing, regulating, and disciplining licensed physicians in the District of Columbia. The Board operates under the authority of the D.C. Department of Health, Health Regulation and Licensing Administration (HRLA), which oversees multiple health boards licensing dozens of distinct healthcare professions across the city.
Physicians practicing in D.C. are subject to the regulations, scope of practice, and standards of practice detailed within the Health Occupations Revision Act (HORA) and the Municipal Regulations for Medicine. If a physician violates these standards, the Board can impose sanctions ranging from a formal reprimand to suspension or revocation of the medical license.
Potential Threats to a Physician's License
Generally, DC-licensed physicians may risk losing their medical license due to various issues and offenses stemming from violations of the Municipal Regulations or other breaches of public trust. Below are some common allegations that can result in the loss of your medical license:
- Sexual misconduct: Unwanted sexual advances or sexual harassment towards patients or colleagues could easily be grounds for disciplinary action. Likewise, initiating a romantic/sexual relationship with a patient under your care is considered an extreme ethical violation and may result in loss of license.
- Fraud: Medical fraud may include illegal "upcoding" insurance claims, overbilling patients or insurance, falsifying patient diagnoses for insurance purposes, billing for services not provided, or accepting referral kickbacks.
- Poor record-keeping: Maintaining accurate patient medical records is vital for safe healthcare delivery. Physicians may face severe consequences over inaccurate or intentionally altered medical records.
- Substance abuse/addiction: Drug or alcohol abuse by physicians raises concerns about their ability to make responsible decisions for their patients. This is especially true if you're reported as being under the influence while on the job.
- Mismanagement of prescriptions: Illegal prescribing practices such as failing to monitor medications properly, overprescribing certain medications like opioids, or issuing prescriptions without a valid medical reason can all lead to Board disciplinary action.
- Patient abuse or neglect: Allegations of physical, mental, or verbal abuse of a patient can endanger a physician's license, as can any act or omission that exposes a patient to unnecessary risk.
- Criminal convictions: Certain criminal offenses, especially felonies and crimes of moral turpitude, can disqualify you from holding a physician's license. Similarly, failure to self-report any conviction to the Board can result in disciplinary action, even if the offense itself would not have threatened your license.
License Revocation Isn't Always Inevitable
While it's natural to fear the worst when facing allegations of professional misconduct, not every accusation will necessarily lead to having your medical license suspended or revoked. The Board considers numerous factors before deciding on the appropriate disciplinary measures, many of which might allow you to maintain your license. Potential outcomes could include:
- Supervised probation: The Board may require close monitoring of your practice for a time
- Practice limitations: There may be restrictions on the scope of your practice or prohibition of certain activities.
- Financial penalties: The Board has the power to impose monetary fines.
- Continuing education: If the Board believes the violation stems from a gap in your education, they may require C.E. courses as a requisite for keeping your license.
- Reprimand: For less serious violations, the Board might issue a formal warning, which becomes part of your record but doesn't restrict your license.
Bear in mind even if you keep your license, any of these lesser sanctions can still negatively impact your career. All disciplinary actions become public records and are easily accessible on the D.C. Health website where potential patients, employers, healthcare facilities, and licensing boards in other states can view them. These penalties could affect people's willingness to collaborate with you and limit your career opportunities. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can often intervene early in your investigation to minimize these risks and potentially prevent sanctions from appearing on your record.
National Practitioner Data Bank
You should also know that the Board has a legal obligation to report any disciplinary action against your D.C. medical license to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a national repository of information about practicing healthcare professionals nationwide. This database is searchable by state licensing boards as well as certain qualifying healthcare facilities, and a negative action could impact your licensure in other states or your ability to obtain employment as a physician. This also underscores the importance of getting help from an experienced professional license defense attorney to safeguard your interests and help you avoid these outcomes whenever possible. The Lento Law Firm Team has extensive experience with these issues and is prepared to assist you.
Navigating the Complexities of Multi-State Licensure
Washington, DC, participates in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, a voluntary agreement designed to simplify medical licensure across multiple states. Currently, there's no provision for a "multistate license" provided by the compact, as each state issues its own licenses. Instead, it offers a streamlined application process for licensure in any other participating states where the physician plans to practice.
In addition to participating in the Compact, the D.C. Board of Medicine has also entered a reciprocity agreement with the Maryland Board of Physicians and the Virginia Board of Medicine to expedite physician licensing for doctors in all three areas. This is especially beneficial to D.C. physicians who frequently must hold licensure in M.D., VA, and D.C. to practice effectively.
While these interstate agreements provide an efficient way to extend healthcare services to underserved areas and give physicians more flexibility in their practices, they also present additional challenges for physicians facing misconduct allegations. If the D.C. Board of Medicine takes disciplinary action against your D.C. license, it can impact your licensure in other states and vice versa. (It's quite common for the D.C. Board of Medicine to revoke a medical license simply because the doctor's Virginia or Maryland license was also revoked.
In situations where potential disciplinary action spans multiple states, it's beneficial to engage a professional license defense law firm with a national reach. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team supports licensed physicians dealing with disciplinary actions not just in D.C. but in every state in the Union. Our team can help you navigate the complexities and regulatory procedures in any state where you hold a license to practice, as well as the District of Columbia.
Healthcare Facilities in the D.C. Area
With a population of more than 712,000 in D.C. proper, plus nearly 5.5 million in the surrounding metro area, opportunities are abundant for physicians to provide much-needed care in the D.C. area. Washington, DC, is home to 13 hospitals (28 throughout the metro area), plus hundreds of primary care and specialized treatment facilities across the area. Below is just a sampling of some of the larger healthcare facilities serving the D.C. area.
MedStar Washington Hospital Center
The massive 912-bed MedStar Washington Hospital Center is by far the area's largest hospital, with 1500 physicians serving more than 400,000 patients a year. A highly-regarded, not-for-profit academic and research center, the Hospital Center is consistently ranked among the top 50 hospitals in the nation for cardiology. Located in Northwest DC, MedStar Washington sits on a sprawling 47-acre campus that also houses the National Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital's parent company, MedStar, also administers dozens of primary care and specialized care facilities throughout the D.C. area.
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
First established as George Washington University Hospital in 1898, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (as it's now called) holds the distinction of being one of the oldest academic teaching hospitals in the Washington, D.C. area. Located at 3800 Reservoir Rd. N.W., this 609-bed hospital shares its facilities with Georgetown University Medical Center, the medical educational/research arm of Georgetown University. The hospital was also the first in Washington, D.C., to receive Magnet® recognition for demonstrating excellence in nursing care.
Howard University Hospital
Located on Georgia Avenue, Howard University Hospital has a rich history and legacy in the D.C. area. First established as Freedman's Hospital in 1862, this facility quickly gained a reputation for treating ex-slaves who were denied treatment at other facilities and soon after became one of the first facilities to train African-American doctors. Today, this hospital provides a full range of comprehensive services and houses a Level 1 Trauma Center. A new 600,000-square-foot facility is currently under construction and slated to open in 2026.
Sibley Memorial Hospital
Sibley Memorial Hospital, nestled in the Palisades neighborhood, is a 288-bed full-service community hospital offering a broad spectrum of healthcare services, including medical, surgical, intensive care, obstetrics, oncology, orthopedics, and more. Part of the Johns Hopkins network, Sibley Memorial employs a staff of more than 2200 (including more than 1,000 medical professionals, and is ranked as one of the top hospitals in the region.
The Process of Disciplinary Action for Physicians in D.C.
The disciplinary process for licensed physicians in Washington, DC, is fairly straightforward. If you're accused of misconduct as a D.C. physician, here are the steps your case will likely take.
Typically, disciplinary actions begin with a formal complaint filed with the D.C. Board of Medicine or the HRLA. Anyone can submit a complaint, but when it comes to physicians, complainants are usually patients, their family members, peers, other healthcare professionals, insurance companies, etc.
Once the complaint is forwarded to the Board and verified to be within its jurisdiction, the Board assigns the complaint to its investigative team to gather facts and search for evidence to support the allegations. This stage could span several months and may involve interviewing the complainant and any witnesses, requesting a written response from you, issuing document subpoenas, conducting site inspections, etc. The investigative team then presents its findings to the Board. If the investigation doesn't yield sufficient evidence of misconduct, the Board may choose to dismiss the case at this point. (At this stage, the Lento Law Firm Team can often negotiate for an early dismissal without further action.)
In many cases, the Board may present an opportunity to negotiate a consent order with them as an alternative to holding a formal hearing. A consent order is a legally binding agreement in which you acknowledge your wrongdoing and willingly accept the Board's disciplinary recommendations, which can be negotiated prior to signing the order. While this might not be the best solution for everyone, and any penalties may still be made public record, it may be the best option if the evidence against you is compelling. This stage does provide your attorney an opportunity to negotiate for clemency and a favorable resolution. The Lento Law Firm Team can negotiate for the most favorable terms of a consent order if this is the best option for you.
Formal Hearing and Board Decision
If a consent agreement is not reached, you may be invited to attend a formal hearing where you can show cause to the Board as to why disciplinary action should not be imposed. Having legal representation for this hearing is highly recommended. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board makes a final decision on whether to dismiss the complaint or to impose disciplinary actions--which can include anything from fines and probation to a complete revocation of your medical license.
Many Cases Can Be Resolved Before the Formal Hearing
While the disciplinary process seems intimidating (and it certainly can be), the fact remains that the Board can opt to dismiss or resolve the case at any stage in the disciplinary process. Involving a skilled professional license defense attorney early in the process greatly improves your chances of resolving the complaint favorably before it reaches the formal hearing stage. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm has a strong working knowledge of this process and can leverage powerful negotiation skills to help you resolve the complaint quickly and favorably.
The Crucial Role of Legal Representation in Protecting Your DC Medical License
While you have the right to represent yourself in license disciplinary proceedings, it's generally not in your best interest. The Board's primary objective is to safeguard public health and safety, and since they only need to prove your culpability based on a preponderance of the evidence, they are more likely to revoke your license out of caution. You're not guaranteed a presumption of innocence, nor is the Board required to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This puts you at a distinct disadvantage from the moment a complaint is filed.
Having a seasoned license defense attorney by your side can help balance the scales and steer the outcome of your case in your favor. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can assist you in the following ways:
- Assess the complaint and evidence against you and devise a strategic plan to counter it;
- Counsel you on your options and the most effective way to resolve your case;
- Collect evidence and witnesses in your defense;
- Negotiate with the Board at multiple points to get the complaint dismissed or for lenient penalties;
- Negotiate for advantageous terms in a consent order and
- Vigorously defend you at a formal hearing, if necessary.
Selecting the Right Attorney for the Job
Not every attorney is equipped to defend you adequately when your medical license is in jeopardy, even though they are legally permitted to represent you. For instance, a lawyer with expertise in divorce or estate law might not have the required proficiency in administrative law, which is critical during disciplinary proceedings against licensed professionals. Thus, it's in your best interest to engage an attorney with specific experience in professional license defense. Such an attorney will have an extensive understanding of licensing boards, their procedures, and the complexities of administrative hearings. This greatly improves your chances of a positive resolution.
The Lento Law Firm: Your Legal Ally When Your Medical License Is Under Attack
If you're a physician in D.C. confronting allegations of professional misconduct, securing a professional license defense attorney at the first signs of trouble can greatly improve your chances of a positive outcome. Some physicians postpone obtaining legal representation until they are on the verge of a formal hearing, unaware that this delay may have already diminished their prospects for a more lenient resolution. The sooner you involve an attorney, the more opportunities you have to negotiate a favorable outcome, possibly even evading a formal hearing entirely.
Whether the complaint against you stems from a miscommunication, an actual error, a personal grudge, or an outright false claim, the implications for your career are incredibly serious. Each step you take in this process without legal counsel equates to a high-stakes gamble on your future. Conversely, the earlier you engage the Lento Law Firm to support you, the higher your chances of keeping your medical license, avoiding severe sanctions, and safeguarding your livelihood and career.
The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm assists medical professionals across the country who are facing disciplinary actions against their licenses. Take proactive measures now to secure your future. To discuss your case and explore your options, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or reach out via our online form.