DRUG & ALCOHOL DEPENDENCY–MEDICAL LICENSE DEFENSE
Elder & Good attorneys are well equipped to provide medical license defense to a physician under scrutiny by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure or the State Medical Board of Ohio for drug or alcohol abuse, impairment, dependency or addiction. Whether you self-report or someone else reports you to the Kentucky Physicians Health Foundation (KPHF) or to the Ohio Physicians Health Program (OPHP), you need strong and effective medical license defense attorneys to defend your Kentucky or Ohio medical license immediately. The bottom line is simple: if you are suspected of alcohol or drug abuse, dependency or addiction your Kentucky or Ohio medical license is at risk.
DRUG TREATMENT OVERVIEW
If a physician self-reports or is reported for abusing alcohol or prescription medication, he or she risks being ordered to attend an inpatient chemical dependency evaluation at Metro Atlanta Recovery Services (MARR), Bradford Health Services or an equivalent provider. The evaluation may lead to a recommendation for prolonged residential treatment. The evaluation and treatment process is intensive and requires a physician to disclose personal information, including the scale and scope of his or her addiction.
If the physician successfully completes the residential treatment program, the Kentucky Physicians Health Foundation (KPHF) or the Ohio Physicians Health Program (OPHP) will monitor the physician and coordinate aftercare treatment upon discharge. Physicians successfully completing residential treatment are subject to a lengthy and comprehensive aftercare treatment regimen that must be followed.
Our medical license defense attorneys have substantial experience representing physicians during the reporting, treatment and investigation stages of medical board cases. We stand ready for the physician to benefit from this knowledge while we defend his or her medical license before the Kentucky and Ohio Medical Boards.
There are several important concerns that must be addressed, some of which are as follows:
- Will the Kentucky or Ohio Medical Board restrict or suspend a physician’s medical license during treatment?
The Kentucky and Ohio Medical Boards are empowered to restrict or suspend a physician medical license while he or she is being treated for alcohol or drug issues. The Kentucky or Ohio Medical Board can file a formal Board complaint and an emergency order of suspension. If this occurs, the Medical Board reports the physician to the National Practitioner Data Bank and places the Complaint and emergency order on its website. In addition, Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance companies often exclude the physician from their programs as a result of the restriction or suspension.
The good news is that a physician who retains an effective medical license defense attorney in Kentucky or Ohio may avoid some of these pitfalls during inpatient treatment. Our medical license defense attorneys have assisted many physicians engaged in residential treatment avoid formal Board complaints and emergency suspensions. In addition, we have assisted many physicians avoid exclusion from Medicaid, Medicare and insurance programs while engaged in treatment and after conclusion of the medical board investigation.
When a physician successfully completes inpatient treatment, we work on his or her behalf to resolve the medical board investigation into the chemical dependency issue as favorably as possible. The consistent and over arching goal of our medical license defense attorneys is to resolve the matter without the Kentucky or Ohio Medical Board imposing restrictions or limitations on a physician medical license. As our medical and professional license attorneys know first hand, it is possible for a physician to avoid restrictions or limitations on a medical license with the assistance of strong and effective representation.
- Has the physician committed a crime?
Often, a physician who is abusing prescription medications has obtained and ingested them illegally, such as by writing prescriptions in the name of a family member, friend or patient, engaging in prescription-splitting or using another physician’s DEA number to write themselves prescriptions. Some physicians also become addicted to illegal street drugs, such as cocaine. These actions can result in restriction, suspension or revocation of a medical license separate and apart from the addiction or dependency issue. They can also adversely impact your relationship with Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies. Moreover, these actions can result in criminal prosecution, conviction and even incarceration in Kentucky and Ohio.
Again, it is important to retain an effective medical license defense attorney in Kentucky or Ohio as soon as the medical board or law enforcement begins to investigate your alcohol or drug issue. By making immediate contact with law enforcement, our medical license defense attorneys have warded off criminal convictions, negotiated lesser charges and mitigated the impact of criminal convictions on a physician medical license. It is exceedingly important for a physician to fully understand all potential consequences that a particular conviction (and even diversion agreements) can have on his or her medical license and relationship with Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance networks in Kentucky or Ohio before entertaining a plea agreement. Certain convictions can result in exclusion by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), prohibiting participation in Medicare, Medicaid or any other federally funded health care program.
- Has the physician put patients at risk
While the Kentucky and Ohio Medical Boards take all allegations of drug or alcohol abuse by a physician seriously, it is especially concerned when a physician attends work or treats patients while under the influence. If a physician has engaged in such conduct as a result of his or her chemical dependency issue, that conduct will be subject to scrutiny and discipline separate and apart from the underlying chemical dependency issue. When a physician retains a medical license defense attorney at the beginning of a Kentucky or Ohio Medical Board investigation, the chances of avoiding or mitigating negative outcomes increase.
- Will a hospital terminate physician privileges?
If a hospital suspends physician privileges over a certain amount of time, or terminates physician privileges, it may be required to report the action to the Kentucky or Ohio Medical Board. Regardless, a physician always will be required to disclose a suspension or termination of hospital privileges on his or her medical license renewal application. In either event, the Kentucky or Ohio Medical Board will investigate the physician.
The Medical Board investigation may include interviews with hospital staff, an interview with the physician in question (again, do not submit to an interview without at least first consulting with an attorney) and a review of all documents relating to the hospital action, including any statement made by the physician to hospital staff. Accordingly, it is imperative to retain a medical license defense attorney to not only defend against a hospital attempt to suspend or terminate your privileges, but also to ensure that physician statements and actions do not complicate any future Kentucky or Ohio Medical Board investigation or litigation.
In short, a physician must be proactive to protect his or her medical license and to mitigate the damage that can result from a criminal investigation. Ignoring the problem or deciding to deal with it at some later time will only complicate matters and decrease the odds of a favorable outcome. Moreover, a physician should not attempt to deal directly with the Kentucky or Ohio Medical Board or law enforcement regarding any issue that may impact his or her ability to defend a medical license or that may result in criminal prosecution. This is especially true if the physician is suffering from an addiction or impairment.
If you are a physician entering treatment, engaged in treatment or under board investigation in Kentucky or Ohio, you have hurdles to overcome but your medical career does not have to end. Strong, effective and experienced medical license defense attorneys can make all the difference. Elder & Good medical license defense lawyers have assisted physicians with addiction issues avoid revocation, suspension, license restrictions and other negative consequences.
Elder & Good medical license defense attorneys are prepared to defend your medical license before the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure and the State Medical Board of Ohio.Contact us to learn more.