Social media can be a dangerous pastime for medical professionals

You have probably seen the “news” reports in the past two days of a naked Prince Harry having a good time in Las Vegas. These clandestine photos were obviously taken when Prince Harry believed that  he was in a private setting. However, they were secretly released to the press and quickly went viral to the great embarrassment of the Royal Family.

You may wonder what this has to do with physicians and the medical profession? We are now in a world where virtually everyone is carrying a camera/video camera on their phones with the ability to take and upload photos and videos to the internet and to the world in moments.  Behaviour that professionals may have engaged in that they thought was private may now be published to the world.

I have not seen a case yet where the Ohio Medical Board uses video footage of a physician “acting badly” as evidence of impairment or inability to practice medicine, however, in my opinion it is just a matter of time. Physicians need to be aware that the Medical Board can take an action against a physician for their conduct, even if it is not related to the practice of medicine. You do not need to be “falling down drunk” at work to be disciplined by the Medical Board. A photo or video of you clearly impaired at a bar taken at 2am when you are scheduled for surgery at 7am could serve as the basis for discipline.

Social media can also be evidence of a boundary violation with a patient. Do you “friend” patients on Facebook? Do you have photos of yourself and a patient taken in social settings? These could all constitute boundary violations with patients.

Social media can be a wonderful tool to reconnect with old friends and to share photos with family members and friends. But, it can also lead to trouble for professionals if not used wisely. As physicians, your conduct needs to be professional 24/7.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the State Medical Board in general, please feel to contact me at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

Are you resilient enough to be a physician?

As most physicians will tell you, it takes a lot more than understanding chemistry or being a good test taker to be a good physician. It takes being willing to work hard, being able to face adversity, and staying calm in a crisis situation. It takes being resilient.  I often wonder if medical students and medical residents are being challenged and taught the appropriate skills to be an accomplished physician.

In my practice, I represent physicians who are being investigated by the State Medical Board.  I also regularly represent residents who face discipline in their residency program or who are seeking licensure for the first time.  For most of my clients, an investigation in their practice by the State Medical Board may be the first time they have ever been questioned by a person in authority or “called on the carpet” for their actions.   Based on this new experience, it is interesting how they react.

A Board investigation is an incredibly stressful time for the physician. Their entire professional livelihood is on the line and any discipline that is imposed by the Board will have significant ramifications to their job, hospital credentialing status, third-party payor status, board certifications and may affect other state licenses.

Investigations by the State Medical Board do not have a statute of limitations and, once the Board starts an investigation, it is not limited to just the scope of the complaint.  The Board may review all aspects of the physician’s practice. In addition, while conducting an investigation, the Board can order the physician to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation or a mental or medical evaluation to determine if they have a condition that may affect their ability to practice medicine.

In order to get through a Medical Board investigation, the physician needs to be patient, cooperative and still maintain the same level of professionalism in their practice while seeing patients. This calls for resiliency on the part of the physician.

Physicians hold patients’ lives in their hands. They need the intelligence, executive function skills, and downright grit to maintain their composure in an ever-changing medical field. So, before entering medicine or if you are a practicing physician, I think it is important to consider .. are you resilient enough to be a physician?

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the State Medical Board of Ohio, please feel free to contact me at (614) 486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

Applying for an Ohio medical license…things to know

Applying for a medical license in Ohio is an important step in your career that should not be taken lightly. When you apply for an Ohio medical license, you should know that every aspect of your application will be reviewed under a magnifying glass. The Medical Board takes the application process very seriously and will not grant you a license until the application is complete and every piece of the application has been reviewed.

It is also important to note that EVERY response that you submit to the Board will be reviewed and if any inconsistencies or questions are raised after reviewing your application, the application process will be stopped and you will be asked for further information to supplement your application. Once you submit an application in Ohio you will most likely not be permitted to withdraw the application once it is submitted.

As it is your application, you should also personally complete the application. I have had people tell me that they have had their office manager, spouse or parent complete an application on their behalf. This is a mistake. You are solely responsible for your responses. Any incorrect responses will be held against you. No one knows the details of your professional experience and history better than you.  Does your office manager know that you were arrested while in college for underage drinking? Do your parents know that you were placed on probation in your residency program? Probably not. So, complete the application yourself.

Be open, honest and accurate on your application. If you were suspended from your residency program don’t put on the application that you were “on vacation”.  Be honest. Read the application carefully and if you have any questions about any of the questions, seek the advice of experienced legal counsel to help you prepare your application.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the State Medical Board of Ohio in general, please feel free to contact me at (614) 486-3909 or by email at beth@collislaw.com.