You receive a phone message "10:55 a.m., Wed., for Dr. Smith; investigator from the Medical Board of California, (916) 263-2389. Please call." You immediately ask yourself: "Why is a medical board investigator calling me? What will happen? What should I do?"
Each year the Medical Board of California contacts many physicians regarding a complaint it has received. Although a medical board investigation is a serious matter, it is not a hopeless one. How a physician handles that call and the subsequent investigation will impact the investigation's outcome and whether the physician will be able to continue practicing, practice with restrictions or lose the ability to practice medicine.
Physicians need to take steps to protect their professional reputations and careers. If you receive a call from a medical board investigator, here are some tips for handling the matter in a professional and effective manner.
Contact the Investigator. When the investigator calls, politely tell him or her that you will cooperate but that you want legal advice regarding your rights and obligations. Do not discuss the case before you have obtained legal advice. Get the investigator's name and telephone number so you or your lawyer can call back later. You should not schedule an interview until you know the particular case that is being investigated and the nature of the complaint.
Retain Professional and Experienced Legal Assistance. Because of the complexities of these cases, it is highly advisable to retain an attorney who is experienced with medical board matters. Your local medical society or CMA may be able to refer you to an attorney who is an expert in handling or defending medical board cases.
While CMA staff cannot provide physicians with individual legal advice, our health law information specialists, with the support of CMA legal counsel, can provide you with legal information and resources on a multitude of health-law related issues, including responding to the medical board. This service is free to CMA members (not available to nonmembers). For assistance, call CMA’s member help center, (800) 786-4262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also wish to contact your medical liability carrier to determine if coverage for medical board defense is included in your coverage.
Obtain a Copy of Your Complaint File. You have the right to obtain a copy of the "central file" set up by the medical board in your case (Business & Professions Code §800(c)). Besides containing complaint information against you, the central file may have information about you from other sources. You or your lawyer should obtain this information prior to scheduling an interview with the medical board investigator.
Educate Yourself. The CMA Health Law Library offers several resources that provide detailed information about the Medical Board disciplinary process. Topics include:
- Medical Board Enforcement Authority
- Medical Board Investigations
- Grounds for Medical Board Discipline
- Medical Board Public Disclosure Program
- Sexual Misconduct
Call CMA today and we’ll provide tools to help you defend yourself in a medical board investigation.
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