NY OPMC Lawyers
The Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) is the New York State entity responsible for regulation and discipline of physicians with New York licenses. In this capacity, the OPMC is authorized to investigate and sanction physicians who commit professional misconduct. AT Norman Spencer and Associates, PC, our NY OPMC Lawyers have successfully represented numerous New York physicians facing the OPMC inquires and discipline.
OMPC Investigations: are they serious?
Most physicians have not heard of the OPMC until they have to face it. Professional discipline subjects are not really taught in medical schools. It is important that physicians who face OPMC investigations realize that they may be ultimately facing the loss of their licenses or severe restrictions on their practices. Even if you do not believe you have committed misconduct, take the investigation seriously form the very beginning and contact a qualified health care defense attorney. With your livelihood and career on the line, you cannot afford to be cavalier about this.
What Is Professional Misconduct in New York
The definition of professional misconduct encompasses a wide range of activities of varying seriousness. Negligent practice of medicine, as well as practicing areas of medicine one is not qualified or authorized to practice, and practicing medicine under the influence of alcohol or drugs can give rise to accusations of professional misconduct. Fraud and misrepresentation concerning one’s medical license or ability to practice, unethical advertising or other financial dealings, and improper fee-splitting and referral arrangements are another type of misconduct. In addition, violating one of the many laws and regulations governing public health, proper disclosures, physician advertising, or medical records may constitute misconduct. A physician who is convicted of a crime also runs the risk of professional discipline. Our NY OPMC Lawyers can help.
The Anatomy of an OPMC Investigation
OPMC investigations are generally initiated because the OPMC has received a complaint against a physician that alleges misconduct. Heightened attention is given to complaints that allege financial fraud, alcohol or drug abuse, or sexual impropriety. In the course of an investigation, the OPMC may subpoena records, interview potential witnesses, and offer the physician an interview.
Whether you should be speaking with an investigator is not a simple question. Remember that any information collected in the course of the investigation will be used against you. Therefore, it is advisable to consult an experienced medical license defense attorney immediately upon being notified of the investigation. Your attorney can then advise you of your rights and obligations in providing information, and assess your case to determine the best course of action. Do not submit any responses or records without speaking with your attorney; in addition to potentially damaging your case, revealing some types of information may in itself be a violation. You should also not speak with investigators if your attorney is not present.
When the OPMC offers you an interview, be aware that this is far more formal than it sounds. You have the right to be represented by an attorney and to have a stenographer present. Any statements you make can be used against you not just in this investigation but also in subsequent investigations and criminal prosecutions. Additional charges may also be brought based on statements made during the interview. Further, this interview is not mandatory. Your attorney will weigh the facts of your case and advise you as to whether an interview will be beneficial to you or not. Under no circumstances should you attend an interview without an attorney.
Once the investigation is completed, the OPMC investigative committee can close the matter, request further investigation, issue an administrative warning, require a mandatory physical or psychiatric evaluation, or recommend the filing of a formal action. Administrative warnings are confidential and are not evidence that the physician was guilty of the misconduct in question; however, in the event of future allegations about the same type of misconduct, the matter may be reopened. Formal action may consist of suspension of medical license, requiring the physician to temporarily surrender the license, or the filing of formal misconduct charges.
If formal charges are filed, a hearing before a panel must be initiated within 60 days of the filing. Before the hearing, both the physician and OPMC can obtain discovery from the other side, including names of witnesses, copies of documentary evidence, and a list and description of any physical evidence. At any time before the hearing takes place, a settlement may also be reached. Consult your attorney before agreeing to anything, since certain innocuous-seeming terms could have serious consequences. Appeals from the panel’s determination can be made to the Administrative Review Board (ARB) or directly to the Appellate Division; the Appellate Division will also hear an appeal from the ARB’s decision.
Penalties for physicians who are found guilty of the charges against them may include revocation of license, conditional or unconditional suspension of license, partial suspension of license, annulment of license, fines, and additional training.
A physician who faces allegations of professional misconduct should contact an experienced health care attorney right away. Providing information or making statements to investigators without legal counsel can jeopardize your case and potentially put your medical license at risk. Our medical license defense attorneys represent physicians at all stages of the process. Our knowledge of the laws and procedures involved enables us to weigh the specific circumstances of your case and determine the most effective strategy to mount a strong defense.
Our experienced OPMC attorneys have been assisting New York physicians with all licensing matters including license defense and reinstatement, hospital privileges, professional Boards matters, etc. Feel free to call our office today to discuss your matter with an attorney.