Getting a letter that a complaint has been filed against you is among the top on the list of a doctor’s fears.
Such a complaint has the potential to derail your reputation and even your career. The fallout can be quite damaging, whether justified or frivolous. How you respond and the steps you take can make the difference between saving yourself and losing everything you have worked hard for years to achieve.
Remington & Dixon know that your license to practice medicine in the state of North Carolina is crucial to your career. If you’re facing action by the NC Medical Board, contact a North Carolina license defense attorney at our firm.
The Difference Between a Notification of Complaint and Investigation
Firstly, digest what you are up against. The situation is much more manageable than you may feel at first. The NC Medical Board can receive complaints from anyone and first determines whether it is worth investigating. If the complaint is worth following up on, the Board will start an inquiry or an investigation.
At this point, the NC Medical Board’s investigations aim to uncover the truth and determine whether you violated state law or the medical practice act in any way. The notification you receive will specify whether the Board considers the complaint a risk to the safety and well-being of NC citizens. If so, the Board will assign an investigator to collect statements from the complainant and other individuals involved.
Receiving a letter or phone call from the state’s Medical Board typically means that an investigation is underway, and there may be questions you are required to answer. The investigating officer will often provide a case ID number and an investigative summary detailing the complaint. Note, however, that the identity of the complainant may be withheld.
The NC Medical Board Investigations Process
With the copy of the complaint you receive from the NC Medical Board, you will be expected to respond in writing. The investigations office assigned to your case may request an in-person interview to collect a complete and accurate account of events that led to the complaint under review.
The request for a written response is an opportunity for you to explain your version of the events and raise any mitigating factors in your defense. This step is critical to bringing the investigator’s and the Board’s attention to any supporting documentation and evidence to support your perspective.
The Board will take the time to evaluate your response and then forward the matter to the medical director’s office (OMD). Depending on the specialty area, the case may be forwarded to an independent reviewer or assessed by the physicians at the OMD. After that, Board attorneys will review the case details and recommend the next course of action the Board should take.
Next, a committee of senior staff on the Board will review your case and accompanying recommendations once more. The senior staff review committee (SSRC) will make an action recommendation to the Board by consensus.
Medical Board Action Recommendations
If the senior staff review committee, office of the medical director, independent reviewer, and board attorneys recommend an action, your case will move to the next step. This involves forwarding the case and all the recommendations to the NC Medical Board disciplinary committee. The committee members will scrutinize and discuss the case and then make final recommendations for action.
Once more, the entire Medical Board will receive the recommendations from the disciplinary committee members and vote on them. In some cases, the Board may request that you attend a confidential interview with a panel of board members to provide more information before disciplinary action is taken.
Finally, the Board will determine whether they have received all the necessary information to take action.
How to Respond to the Complaint if Required To
Never take an NC Medical Board investigations inquiry lightly. The notification you receive could be the start of a lengthy investigation that puts your license on the line. Therefore, when requested for a statement, the right thing to do is to contact a licensed medical practitioner attorney and share a copy of the complaint with them.
An attorney will analyze the details of your complaint and advise you on how to respond. Typically, your response must be detailed and thorough without any irregularities. Remember that the Board will use your response to determine what steps to take next.
Do not destroy or alter any medical records that the Board or the investigating officer may request. You will most likely be asked to provide the records pertaining to the complaint. Destroying or altering these records will hurt your case.
If the Board or the investigating officer requests an interview, prepare well in advance. Make sure to have all the details of the case at your fingertips and communicate with your attorney in good time.
When Should I Get an Attorney?
It is wise to contact a licensed medical practitioner attorney immediately after you receive the complaint notification letter from the NC Medical Board. An experienced medical practitioner attorney can advise you further on the complaints and investigations process, including when and how to respond.
Contact Remington & Dixon License Defense Attorneys in NC
When your license, career, and reputation are on the line, you cannot afford to make a wrong move. If the investigator calls you and requests a statement, you must decline and refer them to your attorney instead.
Regardless of how informal the request may be, remember that anything you say or do can and may be used against you during the hearing. If you find yourself in this position, contact us online to speak to an experienced medical practitioner attorney.
Medical Board Investigation FAQs
Do I need an attorney for any medical board investigation?
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Can I respond to the Medical Board before talking to an attorney?
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.