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Health Care
May 26, 2021

How to Avoid Medical and Dental Licensing Board Violations and Respond to Investigations

Sponsored Content provided by R. Jonathan Charleston - Principal, The Charleston Group

When a medical or dental licensing board complaint is filed, the provider should know how to respond in order to comply with the requirements of the investigation and reduce the risks of additional scrutiny.


Avoid Red Flags


First, understand what can lead to a medical or dental examiner board investigation. For example, these inquiries are generated when a patient files a complaint about an interaction that made them feel uncomfortable, violated, or neglected during a medical encounter. Sometimes, these complaints stem from what the patient views as poor bedside manner; other times, the allegations may be more serious.


With the recent cultural shifts, providers should take steps to ensure patients feel comfortable and safe when receiving care. To avoid allegations of impropriety, providers should have nurses or other medical staff serve as chaperones during patient encounters, particularly when the provider is treating someone of the opposite sex.


Another essential part of defending your practice is keeping comprehensive and accurate medical records. Make sure that you have sufficient human and technological resources to properly document encounters. Every patient encounter should, at a minimum, be well documented with the date and time of patient encounter, complaint or reason for visit, physical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plans. Being precise helps you avoid the possibility of incomplete or inaccurate records complicating a future board investigation. 


Respond Promptly to Medical/Dental Board Investigations


While a call from a licensing board investigator can feel unsettling, responding quickly is in your best interest and allows you to better understand your options for defending yourself.


If you receive notification of a board inquiry, call the investigator back as soon as possible to get the facts and understand the next steps. Don’t make the mistake of arguing your case at this juncture. Your first task is to assess the scope of investigation and the extent of your exposure. Listen to what the investigator says, ask questions, and take detailed notes. Collect information on who made the complaint, the date(s) of service it encompasses, and the alleged violations. Request a copy of the complaint and inquire about the investigation timeline and any deadlines that require your action.


Preserve Records


After you have a better idea of the scope of the investigation, turn your attention to preserving the related medical records. Investigators will request the records of the patient who filed the complaint, and they may also request a sample of records from other patients with similar histories. If the claim involves allegations of sexual misconduct, the investigator may request a sample of records of male and female patients to determine whether, for instance, chaperones are routinely utilized. 


Never attempt to manufacture records to support a diagnosis or treatment plan, which can lead to more scrutiny. The provider should also be aware that providing the board with requested information is an ongoing obligation. If you discover documents or information related to the investigation that you did not already provide to the investigator, promptly do so.


As part of the board investigation, the investigator will typically move to schedule an interview with you. In this case, it is best to seek professional assistance to better manage the circumstances and avoid the risk of attracting additional scrutiny.


Seek Counsel


Protect your license and reduce your risk of disciplinary action by seeking professional legal representation to assist you with responding to the investigation. An experienced attorney can view the case objectively and advise you of the best path forward to limit your exposure and achieve a good resolution. An attorney can also communicate effectively with the medical or dental board about the actions you’ve taken to address their concerns.


The possible consequences of a licensing board investigation range from a private letter of concern all the way to the revocation of your license across jurisdictions and potential impacts on your malpractice insurance. Avoid legal liabilities and disruptions to your practice by retaining expert legal counsel. Contact The Charleston Group to connect with experienced attorneys who have a strong track record of navigating the investigative process and achieving positive outcomes for clients involved in medical and dental licensing board investigations.

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