New York DOH OPMC Defense Lawyers
New York’s licensed physicians work hard to provide quality care to their patients. However, they can be targeted for investigations by the Department of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC). When you are accused of professional misconduct, you risk facing penalties such as a reprimand or even losing your medical license. Brill Legal Group represents medical professionals in OPMC investigations and disciplinary proceedings. When your livelihood is on the line, you can trust our legal team to craft an effective defense on your behalf.
What is the OPMC?
The Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) operates as part of the New York State Department of Health (DOH). The agency investigates and prosecutes complaints of professional misconduct against physicians, physician assistants, and specialist assistants who carry a New York state license.
The office investigates thousands of complaints each year. New York State issued 6,119 physician licenses in 2021, an increase from 5,741 in 2020.
Anyone can file a complaint with the OPMC. Over half of the complaints about physicians and physician assistants are brought by the public, including patients who believe their doctor may have committed misconduct. Complaints can also come from patients’ family members, healthcare professionals, colleagues, insurance companies, healthcare facilities, and state agencies.
What is Considered Professional Misconduct?
New York DOH authorities have identified a long list of behaviors and actions that qualify as professional misconduct. The department cracks down on negligence and allegations of fraud or misrepresentation linked to a physician’s medical license. Violations of rules governing public health, medical records, and physician advertising can also be grounds for an investigation.
The OPMC investigates a wide range of complaints against licensed physicians. Examples of potential misconduct claims include, but are not limited to:
- Practicing fraudulently or with gross incompetence or negligence
- Guaranteeing that treatment will result in a cure
- Practicing under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Being convicted of a crime
- Practicing while impaired with a physical or mental disability
- Performing unauthorized services on a patient
- Practicing in an area of medicine that the physician is unqualified for
- Filing a false report
- Practicing with a suspended license
- Harassing, abusing, or intimidating a patient
- Ordering unnecessary tests
- Abandoning or neglecting a patient in need of care
- Sexual misconduct
- Financial fraud
- Insurance fraud
No matter what allegations of misconduct you face, Brill Legal Group can help you avoid the harsh penalties that can arise from the OPMC disciplinary process. Our OPMC defense lawyers will strive to ensure you keep your medical license.
How to Respond to an OPMC Investigation
OPMC investigations are frequently initiated by a complaint that is filed against a physician. If you find out you are being investigated for professional misconduct by the New York DOH, it is crucial to act urgently. An OPMC complaint is a cause for concern and should not be taken lightly.
Many physicians are unaware of the OPMC until they receive a letter from an investigator. Ignoring the complaint, however, has its own consequences and can result in a summary suspension. Failing to respond to written communications from the New York DOH and to provide records requested by investigators constitutes misconduct under state law.
The best course of action is to immediately consult a New York OPMC defense attorney who is experienced with disciplinary matters, even if you believe you are not guilty of misconduct. With your professional reputation and medical license in jeopardy, hiring skilled legal counsel from the very beginning ensures your rights will be protected throughout the investigative process.
A Guide to How the OPMC Disciplinary Process Works
- Investigation: Physicians and physician assistants who are the subject of an OPMC complaint are required to cooperate with the investigation. This includes submitting documents that are relevant to the inquiry upon request. An important point to note is that you can have a lawyer present throughout the investigative and disciplinary process.
- Committee Recommendations: If the OPMC investigator collects enough evidence to suggest misconduct, the case is brought to a three-member committee that comprises two physicians and a layperson. The committee will recommend further investigation, a formal action such as filing misconduct charges, an administrative warning, or dismissing the case.
The committee may summarily suspend their license if the physician poses an imminent threat to public health. Conversely, the case will be closed if there is insufficient evidence of misconduct.
- Disciplinary Hearing: Formal charges are filed against the physician, and a hearing is scheduled if the committee determines there is enough evidence suggesting misconduct or if a summary suspension is issued. The hearing panel comprises a different set of two physicians and a layperson.
The OPMC and the physician facing misconduct allegations can present evidence at the hearing. The physician also has the right to testify. Both sides are typically represented by legal counsel who submits evidence and questions witnesses. The parties may also decide on a settlement at any point before the hearing.
- Penalties: Once the disciplinary hearing ends, the committee rules the case. If a physician is found guilty of professional misconduct, they will be penalized. Based on the case’s outcome, the state and the physician have the right to appeal the decision with an Administrative Review Board.
OPMC Penalties for Misconduct
If the OPMC determines that a physician or physician assistant is guilty of professional misconduct, they may impose various penalties. Penalties include:
- License revocation, suspension, or annulment.
- Requirement to complete training or a course of education.
- Censure and reprimand.
- Fines of up to $10,000 per offense.
- Up to 500 hours of community service.
In less serious cases that involve a minor technical violation, the physician may receive an administrative warning. The administrative warning is not made public. A censure and reprimand, however, are published online.
A hearing committee may also decide that probation is necessary in some cases. Probation involves restrictions being placed on a physician’s ability to practice medicine. Terms and conditions of probation can include periodic visits to the OPMC or random reviews of patient records.
For serious professional misconduct, a physician is likely to lose their license. When a practitioner’s license is suspended, they are not allowed to practice medicine for the duration of the suspension. A suspension may be for a set length of time, or it may be indefinite. The OPMC also has the authority to permanently revoke a physician’s medical license.
All final disciplinary actions and summary suspensions are made public. The information will appear in the National Practitioner Data Bank, New York State Physician Profile, and the OPMC website if a physician is found guilty of any professional misconduct. It may also be reported to licensing agencies and employers.
What Should I Do if I Am Being Investigated by the OPMC?
Any physician, physician assistant, or specialist assistant under investigation for professional misconduct should speak to an experienced New York OPMC defense lawyer as soon as possible. If the office finds you guilty, you could face disciplinary action that could harm your professional reputation and ability to make a living.
Brill Legal Group knows how to use effective strategies to dismiss misconduct allegations or at least minimize the penalties issued by the OPMC. We have a successful track record of representing medical professionals in disciplinary hearings from the DOH.
OPMC officials should not be underestimated; they have tactics for uncovering information through means such as subpoenas for documents and interviews with your patients, employees, and others. In such circumstances, you need an attorney who can thoroughly prepare you for what to expect during the disciplinary process. You have the right to have legal counsel present at every stage of the OPMC process.
You may be asked to undergo an interview with an OPMC investigator. However, this interview is not mandatory, and you do not have to agree. You should refrain from speaking with OPMC investigators without the presence of legal counsel.
A lawyer can examine the facts of your situation and determine how best to approach the investigation. While you may believe agreeing to an interview will do no harm, you could inadvertently end up saying something that may be used against you. Further charges could be added to the existing allegations based on statements you give during an interview. Additionally, giving false statements to investigators can hurt your case and jeopardize your medical license.
When we represent physicians in OPMC proceedings, our goal is to resolve matters quickly before the situation escalates. Brill Legal Group will try to get the complaint against you dismissed, or we may be able to negotiate a settlement to avoid going to a formal hearing. If the case moves forward to a hearing, your OPMC defense attorney will present a strong defense before the hearing panel and strive to minimize the consequences.
Contact Brill Legal Group
With more than 25 years of experience and deep knowledge of New York State laws, Brill Legal Group knows how to craft a smart defense to protect your medical license. We are dedicated to representing New York physicians, physician assistants, and special assistants in OPMC disciplinary proceedings. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. 888-315-9841