When a claim of professional misconduct is made against a physician and the medical board takes disciplinary action, doctors can agree to voluntarily give up their medical license instead of allowing the disciplinary proceedings by the medical board to continue. Before agreeing to voluntarily give up a license, however, doctors need to ensure they are committed to this course of action and that it is the best course of action.
If a medical care provider believes there may be defenses available or arguments he can make to convince the medical board to either not take disciplinary action, or to suspend rather than revoke the license to practice medicine, it is important to explore these options early. An attorney with experience handling professional license defense should be consulted to provide guidance on whether there are options to fight the loss of a medical license and should be consulted before a doctor signs any type of settlement agreement.
Giving Up a Medical License Is Generally Irreversible
Recently, King 5 reported one case in which a physician signed an order resolving accusations that had been made against him. The order resolving the accusations include the voluntary surrender of the doctor's license to practice medicine.
The doctor signed the order and gave up his license based on accusations he had overprescribed drugs to eight different patients, as well as accusations he had engaged in sexual contact with at least one of his female patients.
Now, however, the doctor believes he should not have relinquished his license. He signed the order and surrendered his professional license to practice medicine in January of 2015 and in October, he initiated legal action to try to vacate the original agreement so he could return to practicing medicine.
The former physician argued he was under duress when he signed the voluntary agreement in which he gave up his medical license. The former physician had also hired a new legal representative to make the argument on his behalf that the order in which he gave up his license should be vacated. The new lawyer argued he hadn't had a chance to review the agreement the doctor signed relinquishing his license.
Despite these arguments, the doctor will not get a chance to undo the earlier decision he had made. The judge who was reviewing the request to vacate the original order declined to overturn it and send the case back to an administrative law judge for reconsideration. The doctor will not get another chance to defend himself or to retain the ability to practice medicine.
The case shows the importance of always thinking decisions through carefully and making informed choices before signing any type of settlement agreement or voluntary agreement. Once you give up your right to defend yourself and keep your license, it may be difficult or impossible to undo the decision. You should fight for your license and your future as a doctor before you get into a situation where it is too late to argue on your own behalf.