Year in Review: Outcomes of Professional Licensing Board Matters in 2020

Jackson & Campbell’s Health Law Practice Group regularly represents doctors, dentists, nurses, and other healthcare providers in investigations before state licensing boards. Despite the decrease in visits to outpatient practices this year due to the pandemic, complaints against healthcare providers continued unabated. During 2020, Jackson & Campbell’s attorneys defended more than a dozen healthcare providers against complaints filed with the healthcare licensing boards in DC, Virginia, and Maryland. Seven of those complaints led to investigations into the healthcare providers. In all seven cases, the applicable Board determined that no disciplinary proceeding was needed and closed the investigation.

In five cases, the Board found no wrongdoing on the part of our client and issued a formal letter that it was closing the matter without further action. One case involved serious allegations of discrimination against our client. We proved they were untrue. A second case involved a patient who complained that a surgery had unanticipated consequences and demanded a refund. We showed that the patient knew of this risk beforehand. In the third case, a patient claimed the physician rushed her visit, falsely accused her of being diabetic, and convinced the patient that her health had rapidly declined. We convinced the Board otherwise. In a fourth case, the patient claimed a physician refused to abort a surgery despite the patient’s request and instead performed an additional procedure, without her consent, that led to physical injury to the patient. We demonstrated insurmountable flaws in each of the patient’s allegations. In the fifth case, the patient claimed the physician was unexperienced, could not diagnose the patient, insisted the patient obtain imagining from the physician’s own institution, and barred the patient from the practice for getting it done elsewhere. We showed that the patient had unrealistic expectations and that the physician acted in accordance with the practice’s policy. In all five cases, the Board closed the investigation with no finding of wrongdoing on the part of the provider.

In the sixth case, the Virginia Board of Medicine issued a confidential advisory letter to our client before closing its investigation. This matter involved a physician who gave a patient a prescription that did not include the patient’s first or last name. Because Virginia law expressly requires written prescriptions to include the patient’s first and last name, the Board found that the omission of that information merited a confidential advisory letter to the physician. However, the Board made clear that the letter would be held in strict confidence and would not be provided to anyone but our client. Thus, the letter will not negatively impact the physician’s practice or reputation in any way.

In the seventh case, a patient filed an anonymous Board complaint alleging that a physician’s office was unsanitary. Specifically, the patient claimed that the physician was using unsterilized instruments, was drawing blood without wearing gloves, and had a sharps container overflowing with medical waste. As a result of the complaint, Board investigators conducted an unannounced site inspection. They observed a host of sanitation and infection control issues that corroborated the allegations in the complaint. A full-blown investigation ensued. Our firm was retained to assist with the investigation.

We conducted our own inspection of the physician’s office, identified potential sanitation concerns, and worked with the physician to eliminate each of the problems to the best of his ability. Despite the substantial concerns described in the Board’s investigation, we negotiated a settlement agreement that allowed the physician to maintain his license. The settlement agreement expressly states that it is not disciplinary in nature and that the Board had not charged the physician with any violation of applicable law. In exchange, the physician simply had to agree to comply with applicable infection control and sanitation guidelines, agree to an unannounced site visit, complete CME credits in infection control, and pay a small fine of $1,000. The first two requirements were already required by applicable law and, as such, imposed no new requirements on the physician.

The Health Law Practice Group at Jackson & Campbell has decades of experience in helping its clients defend their licenses. We strive to handle every detail of these types of complaints so our clients can be free to do what they do best: provide top notch healthcare services.