California Medical Board (MBC) License Defense
Protecting Your License and Reputation
In California, two agencies regulate the practice of medicine: The Medical Board of California, and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California.
The purpose of the Medical Board of California (MBC) and Osteopathic Medical Board is to ensure practicing physicians are properly licensed and providing proper care and treatment to the public. As a doctor, your relationship with your licensing board is essential to your career.
While it’s easy to assume the board would take your side in the case of an accusation, their top priority is keeping the public safe. This means they will thoroughly investigate any accusations and take disciplinary action against you if the allegations are found to be true.
Attorney Scott J. Harris is a former Deputy Attorney with the California Department of Justice. He is also a former governor’s appointee to the Osteopathic Medical Board. He is dedicated to educating and protecting licensed professionals during board investigations and disciplinary actions. If you are a licensed physician in California and were recently accused in a medical board investigation, you must respond promptly to protect your license. Hiring an experienced doctor board license defense attorney is the first step.
Medical Board of California Denial
The MBC reserves the right to deny licensure to applicants because of unprofessional conduct, criminal conviction, discipline by another state medical board, and/or the inability of the applicant to practice safely. If an applicant has a criminal conviction, then the MBC will review the conviction and any underlying issues that led to the conviction.
An applicant can be denied a license from the MBC due to a failure to pay taxes or a failure to pay court-ordered child support. If an applicant has a delinquent tax owed to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) or State Board of Equalization (BOE) and appears on either agency’s list of top 500 tax delinquencies of over $100,000. If the MBC finds that an applicant is delinquent in their taxes, then they will be served a preliminary notice of the suspension of their medical license. Once the notice is received, the applicant then has 90 days to either pay off the outstanding tax obligations to either agency or enter into a payment plan with the agency where money is owed.
If an applicant is delinquent on their court-ordered child support to the point where their name appears in the “Absent Parent File” of the Department of Child Support Services, then they can face license suspension. Once the applicant is notified that he or she is non-compliant on child support payments, the applicant then has 150 days to pay off the money owed or enter into a payment plan with the local child support agency. If you are facing the denial of your medical license by the California Medical Board, then it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney right away.
Medical Board of California Accusations
The MBC receives thousands of complaints each year accusing California doctors of some type of violation of law or other misconduct. Once a physician is accused of misconduct, then the physician will be investigated by an investigator who is assigned the case.
If the MBC is satisfied that the findings of an investigation show that a physician may have violated the law or other form of misconduct, then the physician will be sent a “Notice of Accusation” letter that lists specifically what the physician is accused of in separate counts. California physicians who are sent a Notice of Accusation by the MBC are immediately put on the clock to respond and defend themselves. It is not recommended that a physician facing counts of misconduct in a Notice of Accusation simply agree to the charges. It is important to have a thorough defense. If you are a doctor, then your medical license is your livelihood.
A physician facing an accusation has 15 days from the date of the proof of service to file a “Notice of Defense.” The actual defenses may or may not need to be stated in this notice, but the notice must be filed to let the MBC know that the physician plans to defend themselves against the charges listed in the Notice of Accusation. A failure to respond to a Notice of Accusation can result in a default judgment and can waive certain rights and defenses for the physician and his or her license.
An experienced California Medical Board license defense attorney can help you zero in on what defenses must be stated in a Notice of Defense, as well as how to defend your case as a whole.
Medical Board of California Investigation
The California Medical Board investigates and prosecutes a wide variety of cases. Once a patient makes an allegation, the board will investigate. Common allegations the board investigates include:
- Criminal Convictions, involving Driving Under the Influence, drug possession or use, fraud, petty theft, and many others.
- Gross Negligence or repeated acts of simple negligence
- Unlawful prescribing practices
- Failure to adequately supervise nurses or physician extenders
- Sexual misconduct or inappropriate physical contact
The board is very concerned about the mental health and physical health of licensees. This is why medical boards investigate alcohol-related and drug-related cases including, substance abuse allegations and drug law violations. A simple DUI can lead to license discipline.
The board also investigates if a doctor is accused of aiding or abetting someone without a license to illegally practice medicine. Finally, administrative actions like filing fraudulent insurance claims or incorrectly completing patient charts can lead to an investigation and possible disciplinary action.
The Medical Board of California – MBC Enforcement Process
Once an MBC accusation or complaint is filed by a patient, another doctor, or someone else who believes you have violated the terms of your license, or the board receives the notification of an arrest or conviction, the complaint is reviewed by the Central Complaint Unit (CCU). They will research the complaint, ensure that it is justified, and determine whether disciplinary action should be mandated.
If the CCU decides the doctor violated the terms of his or her license, they will refer the case to the local district office of the board. The board will then determine whether there is sufficient evidence to require an administrative hearing. If this is the case, a formal accusation will be filed.
It is always the doctor’s right to challenge an accusation made against them. If they do so, an administrative hearing will be held and conducted by the Office of Administrative Hearings, or the case will be resolved in a stipulated settlement. If the case goes to a hearing it will be presided over by an administrative law judge, who will determine a decision and present it to the board in writing. After reviewing the decision, the board will determine a punishment.
At this point, the doctor has 30 days to request a decision be reconsidered. If, after the case is reconsidered and the doctor disagrees with the decision, they can appeal it in court.
Whether you have recently been accused, or reached the point of reconsideration or appeal, it is in your best interest to get help from a physician license defense attorney.
These cases are incredibly complicated and should never be handled alone. An experienced and qualified attorney will give you a clearer understanding of your rights and ensure that you are properly represented in court to give you the best possible chance of retaining your license.
What Happens After a Closed Case?
After an investigation, occasionally a case against the physician will be closed and allegations will remain confidential. This happens for a variety of reasons. If a case is closed, most typically the board will retain the file for five years, with some exceptions, to ensure no repeat offenses.
Investigators find the allegations do not violate the law. If the case did not cause the patient harm, rather than disciplining the doctor, the board may recommend mediation to help the doctor and patient come to a mutually acceptable agreement.
Other times, the board may determine no disciplinary action is necessary, even when the physician violated the Medical Practice Act. For example, a doctor’s actions could be considered a violation, but those actions did not directly harm the public. In this case, they may simply receive a letter of warning from the board warning of future disciplinary action if the violation happens again.
If a formal investigation finds a doctor adhered to the standard of care but there are concerns about the treatment provided, a doctor may participate in a review about the issues at hand. Review participation is voluntary and should always be undergone with the help of an experienced medical board license defense attorney.
Medical Board of California Disciplinary Outcomes
Depending on the severity of the violation, the Medical Board of California (MBC) or Osteopathic Medical Board may take a variety of disciplinary actions against a doctor. Any of the disciplinary actions described below will be published on the board’s website along with the accusations against the physician, thus making them accessible to the public.
If the charges filed against the doctor are minor but a strong case was made against the physician, a letter of public reprimand may be issued and published on the Medical Board of California’s website. This applies when the board license defense can show no harm was caused to the patient.
Another common disciplinary action is known as probation, which may include anything from taking an educational course to having their practice monitored, ongoing education, supervision, and restrictions on the scope of practice, depending on the charge.
If the doctor adheres to probation requirements, they will get their license back in unrestricted status after the allotted time period. If they do not follow the requirements, their license may be permanently revoked.
In more severe cases, the board may decide to suspend or actually revoke a doctor’s license. During the suspension period, the doctor will not be allowed to practice medicine. The board can also order an interim suspension if they determine that the physician has previously behaved or is likely to behave in a manner that jeopardizes public health, safety and welfare. In this case, the board requests a hearing to have the doctor’s license immediately suspended. If the court approves the suspension, the board has 15 days to file an Interim Suspension and 30 days to hold an administrative hearing.
Finally, in serious cases the board may revoke the doctor’s license after an administrative hearing. If this happens, the physician cannot apply for reinstatement for three years. Getting help from a board license defense lawyer is crucial at this point for any chance of protecting your license.
All discipline is reported to the National Provider Databank and is posted on the board’s license verification system.
Contact a Medical Board License Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of violating the Medical Practice Act or are experiencing any of the disciplinary actions described above, it is essential that you work with an experienced physician board licensing attorney. Is your MBC or medical license in jeopardy? If so, attorney Scott J Harris and his team will fight for your rights and help you get the justice you deserve.
Contact us today at 323-794-0701 for a free 30-minute consultation.