Sanctions Against Physicians on Probation Increase in Severity

In 2012, I wrote a blog post about how the State Medical Board of Ohio was cracking down on physicians who were on probation. See “On Probation with the Medical Board? Beware, There is a New Sheriff in Town.” When writing that post two years ago, I could not have anticipated the changes that would take place and how these changes are affecting physicians who are under probation.

At any one time, the Ohio Medical Board monitors over three hundred physicians who are subjected to probationary terms. Many are on probation for substance abuse or alcohol abuse problems.  These individuals are required to call into a lab testing site daily and to submit to random OBSERVED urine screen anywhere from 2-4 times per month. They are also required to notify their doctors of their addiction, notify the Board of all medications they have been prescribed, and in many cases they are required to keep a log of all controlled substances they prescribe. They are required to attend AA or NA support meetings and personally report to the Board on a quarterly basis. All of these requirements are on top of their daily work assignments and while juggling family commitments.

In the past, minor violations of these requirements were accepted by the Board. You might miss a call in for a drug screen or one AA meeting. However, these seemingly minor violations are now the basis for additional discipline by the Board against the physician.

I recently learned that a physician’s probation was extended for 30 days for failing to call into the testing site on ONE occasion (and they were not even selected to provide a sample on that day). In the past year, I have also handled three cases where the Board has proposed to discipline a physicians for technical violations of their Consent Agreements, a few missed calls or a few missed AA meetings (even in cases where there is no evidence of a positive drug screen).

So, beware. Minor violations will not be taken lightly. Regroup. Set your priorities in place and be 100% compliant with the terms of your Consent Agreement, or you could face further Board discipline.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the State Medical Board of Ohio in general, please feel free to call my office at (614) 486-3909 and ask to speak with one of the attorneys or email me at beth@collislaw.com.