Time to renew your Ohio Medical license – not something that should be delegated!

Depending on the first initial of your last name, it might be time to renew your Ohio medical license. This can be done on-line by going to the Medical Board’s website http://www.med.ohio.gov/.  If it is your renewal time, you should have been sent instructions from the Medical Board with your login information to complete your renewal application on-line. Or, you may request that the Board send you a paper renewal form to complete and return to the Board. Whether you choose to renew online or to complete the paper renewal form it is important that you take a few quiet minutes to yourself to complete the form on your own!

Often, physicians think they are too busy to take the time to personally complete the renewal form. I am often told by physicians that they allow the “girl” (their assistant) to complete the renewal forms for them. This is a mistake.  Does your assistant know that you were arrested in college for disorderly conduct or an open container violation?  Does your assistant know of the reckless operation of a vehicle charge that you plead guilty to on the way home from your sister’s wedding? Probably not.

However, by signing the renewal application you are certifying to the Medical Board that all information contained in the application is correct and complete. The Medical Board reviews all original applications for licensure and renewal applications very seriously and will take a disciplinary action against a licensee who fails to provide the Board with correct and complete information.

It is important to read all the questions on the renewal application carefully and to provide the Medical Board with clear, complete, honest and correct answers to their questions. If you do not understand a question, you may call the Medical Board staff and ask  – however, the staff is unable to give legal advice.

If you provide the Medical Board with an incorrect or incomplete answer or if you omit information called for in a question, the Board may take a disciplinary action against you based on a violation of Ohio Revised Code 4731.22(B)(5), “for providing false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading statement … to obtain certification of registration from the Board.”

The Medical Board’s disciplinary guidelines permit the Board to impose a minimum sanction of an indefinite suspension (minimum one year) to a maximum penalty of permanent license revocation if a licensee provides, false information to obtain anything of value.  http://med.ohio.gov/pdf/meddis.pdf

When completing an initial application or submitting your renewal application to the Medical Board, complete the form yourself and take the time to answer all the questions with complete, clear, concise and correct answers.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or another question involving the State Medical Board of Ohio, feel free to email me at Beth@collislaw.com or call me at 614-486-3909.

Medical Board actions are public and posted on Board’s website!

I am often asked by physicians, if a disciplinary action taken by the Medical Board against their license will be available to the public. The answer is Yes.  Under the Ohio Public Records law, R.C. 149.43, any official action taken by a governmental agency is a public record. http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/149.43

What does this mean? Prior to the internet, to obtain a public record from a governmental agency, a written request was required for the document. You can still do that today.  Now, however, all Medical Board disciplinary actions are posted on the Medical Board’s website.  Interested persons can go to the link on the Medical Board’s website to obtain information about a particular licensee, enter their name and they will be presented with a summary list of any discipline against that physician. A person can click on the “view documents” box (which is in bright yellow) and download the entire disciplinary record (copies of Citation letters, Consent Agreements, Adjudication Orders or any Court appeals documents).  To find information about your medical license or to look up another physician, go to: https://license.ohio.gov/lookup/default.asp?division=78

Information about a medical diagnosis or medical condition that might have formed the basis of a disciplinary action is not redacted and is included in the public record.  All the information, including any medical diagnosis, criminal conviction, boundary violation, the factual and legal basis for the action and the disciplinary action taken against the licensee is all included in the public record on the Medical Board’s website.

As a follow-up question, I am often asked whether the disciplinary action is taken off the website and out of the public record once the licensee completes any suspension or probation period. Unfortunately no. Once a disciplinary action is taken, it is on the professionals’ “permanent record” and will not be sealed, removed or redacted. Even in cases where the basis for the disciplinary action is a criminal action that has been sealed or expunged, the Medical Board is not required to seal or expunge any information available to the public.

The argument given for including all disciplinary actions of the Medical Board in the public record is that consumers should be able to know if their medical professional has been the subject of discipline by the Medical Board.

However, only proposed disciplinary actions and final actions (be it a Consent Agreement or Adjudication Order) are made public. Complaints submitted to the Medical Board and any Board investigations are confidential. Under R.C. 4731.22(F)(5), investigations of the Medical Board are confidential and are not open for public disclosure. However, this restriction  also pertains to the licensee and their legal counsel. When a complaint is filed with the Medical Board, the licensee may be notified of the general nature of the complaint, but they will not be provided with a copy of the complaint or even given the name of the person who filed the complaint. This rule however does not prevent the Medical Board from sharing any part of its investigation with other governmental agencies such as a police department or another Board.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or would like me address a particular question, feel free to email me at Beth@collislaw.com or call me at 614-486-3909.

Ohio Medical Board’s One Bite Rule

Physicians who believe they need to seek medical treatment for drug or alcohol abuse are often concerned about the ramifications they may suffer by the State Medical Board of Ohio if it is determined that they do need treatment. They commonly want to know, “will the treatment be confidential?” or “will the treatment facility or their colleagues and employer who may know of their impairment be required to report them to the Medical Board?”

Physicians who believe they may need treatment should seek an assessment immediately. Your health is the most important consideration.   However, in seeking an assessment for suspected chemical dependency or substance abuse, it is important to submit to an evaluation at one of the State Medical Board of Ohio approved facilities. A list of the facilities approved by the Medical Board can be found at: http://www.med.ohio.gov/pdf/treatment_compliance/TREATMNT.pdf

It is imperative that you seek an evaluation and follow the treatment recommendation of the Medical Board approved treatment facility. Seeking an assessment or treatment at a non-Medical Board approved facility will NOT be accepted by the Medical Board and you will be required to repeat the treatment.  However, if you voluntarily seek treatment and follow the recommendations of an approved treatment facility, you may be able to avail yourself to the Medical Board’s ONE BITE policy.

What is One-Bite?   The One Bite rule allows impaired licensees who seek and complete treatment and aftercare at a Medical Board approved treatment provider to remain in the private sector for monitoring, as long as their acts did not result in a criminal conviction or put patients or others at risk of harm:

Within One Bite:

  • Alcohol only
  • Illegal drug use
  • Taking drugs from sources that did not involve patients
  • Issuing prescriptions for one’s own use in one’s own name

Outside of One Bite:

  • Criminal conviction related to use or abuse of a controlled substance at or near the time the Board is determining if they meet the requirements for One Bite
  • Treatment in lieu
  • Relapse
  • Failure to complete appropriate treatment and aftercare with a Board approved provider
  • Criminal acts that involve the use of another’s name or involve patient’s name
  • Compromised patient care
  • Out of state action

If the Board becomes involved by investigator contact with the licensee or the Board orders the licensee for an assessment the individual no longer qualifies for One Bite.  One Bite is basically ONE chance to voluntarily seek treatment for substance abuse without having to submit to monitoring by the Medical Board.

Are hospitals and colleagues required to report the suspected impaired physician to the Medical Board? Under Ohio R.C. 4731.224 (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4731.224) and O.A.C. 4731-15-01 (http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/4731-15-01) licensees and health care facilities are relieved of the obligation to report the impaired physician to the Medical Board IF the individual has sought treatment at a Medical Board approved facility.

As always, if you have further questions, feel free contact me at beth@collislaw.com or at 614-486-3909.

What to Consider When Hiring an Attorney

When facing a disciplinary action before your state licensing board or when looking for assistance in applying for a license, it is important to find the right attorney to help you through this often cumbersome process. To make an informed decision, you should set an appointment and meet with the attorney in person to gauge the following:

Experience/Expertise: Experience in representing physicians before the State Medical Board of Ohio is a very important factor to consider. It is your professional license that is at stake. While you may have a good friend who is an attorney or a good professional relationship with a criminal defense counsel, often they do not have the experience or expertise to handle your defense before the State Medical Board of Ohio. In addition, many attorneys will claim to represent licensees before the Medical Board. However, you should ask them what percentage of their practice is in the area of licensure defense. You also want to determine how many cases they have taken through the hearing process and on appeal. You don’t want your case to be the first case they have taken to a Board hearing.

Personality/Compatibility/Accessibility: Meet and interview the attorney before you decide to hire them. Do they seem knowledgeable about the investigative or disciplinary process? Did they take the time to meet with you, answer your questions and explain the disciplinary process to you? Do you think the attorney understands your individual circumstances? Would you feel welcome to pick up the phone or to email the attorney with questions and concerns?

Costs/Accounting of fees: You should have a frank discussion with your attorney and make sure you understand their fees and how the fees are to be paid. Does the firm take credit cards? Do they charge late fees or interest on late balances? Does the firm send you a monthly statement that outlines the time spent on your case that month and any fees/expenses charged to you? If you deposit money in the firm’s IOLTA trust account, are you sent a monthly accounting of your money on retainer? Before entering into any relationship with an attorney you should have a clear understanding of their fees and should receive a regular accounting of any fees or expenses for which you will be charged.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: beth@collislaw.com

What to do if contacted by a Medical Board investigator

In my practice I receive calls each week from nervous and frightened physicians who have been contacted either by telephone or letter from a Ohio Medical Board or even Pharmacy Board investigator.  The question I am always asked is:

Do I have to talk with the investigator?

First, never speak with an investigator without competent legal counsel. Anything you tell an investigator can be used in a disciplinary action against you by your licensing board and/or by the police in a criminal investigation.

Depending on the facts in your case, sometimes I advise clients to speak with investigators or to provide a written statement to their licensing board regarding an alleged complaint. However, I never have my clients meet with investigators without legal counsel and I never allow my clients to submit written statement that I have not had a chance to review.

Also, don’t allow the investigator to set the timing for when you will respond to them. I am often contacted by nurses who have been contacted by an investigator from the Ohio State Medical Board and advised that they need to meet with the investigator or submit a written statement to the investigator within 24 or 48 hours.  These deadlines or almost always negotiable. Do not allow the investigator to rush you into providing them with the statement until you have had a chance to meet with legal counsel.

Hello Ohio Physicians!

Hi, in my practice as an attorney I exclusively represent professionals before their state licensing boards in Ohio.  As a former Ohio Assistant Attorney General, I am familiar with the disciplinary process of the State Medical Board of Ohio and many, many more licensing agencies.

I regularly help physicians apply for a training certificate, a full Ohio medical license or a visiting faculty license or help physicians wade through the disciplinary process. I have started this blog to answer many of the common questions that I receive in my practice on a weekly basis from physicians throughout Ohio. Such as, “should I apply for a medical license in Ohio if I have a criminal conviction on my record?” “what will happen with my medical license if I get a DUI?” “what should I do if contacted by a board or criminal investigator?”. I hope over  the next few months to answer many of your questions.