Earning a medical degree requires tremendous dedication to go through school, be trained properly and pass the required exams and background checks. Even after earning a professional license, a medical doctor invests time and money in establishing a reputable career.
Given all the responsibility that a doctor may have, it’s not uncommon for a doctor to face accusations of professional misconduct or face a criminal charge. Any accusation or charge that a doctor faces can have a tremendous impact on their license and ability to work in the future. If you are a doctor who is being charged with a malpractice claim or are facing a criminal charge you should consult with an attorney to protect your invaluable medical license.
Who Initiates A Professional Disciplinary Matter And Who Handles My Case?
Usually disciplinary cases are started by a patient, related family member, other physicians, hospital administrators or other healthcare professionals. Disciplinary matters are very serious and can result in reprimand, suspension and in the worst cases complete revocation of the privilege to practice medicine.
The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners is responsible for licensing and disciplining medical doctors in the State of New Jersey. The Board investigates all allegations of professional misconduct, malpractice and even criminal conduct that may happen outside of the workplace. The primary objective of the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners is to protect the public, and instill confidence in the medical field by investigating professional discipline and misconduct issues involving doctors.
On What Grounds Can I Be Disciplined?
The New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners is authorized to take disciplinary action against a physician for various reasons.
- Fraud, misrepresentation and dishonesty
- Negligence and malpractice
- Professional misconduct
- Conviction of a crime (unrelated to practice)
- Insurance fraud
- Alcohol or Drug abuse
- Sexual misconduct
- Illegal drug prescriptions
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What Happens After A Complaint Has Been Filed?
Usually after a complaint has been filed with the Board of Medical Examiners, the physician will be asked to respond in writing to the complaint itself or are required to appear at a hearing before a designated medical committee which has been assigned to investigate the complaint. Serious cases will be brought before the Attorney General’s office.
If I Have The Criminal Charges Dropped, Can I Still Lose My Professional License?
There are two different standards of proof to find someone guilty in criminal cases as opposed to cases involving professional misconduct. In criminal cases, you are innocent until proven guilty and the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest standard of proof or burden to meet within the legal system.
Investigations into professional misconduct carry a lower burden of proof than is needed in criminal courts. New Jersey’s Board of Medical Examiners need only to reach enough proof to prove a party guilty by a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This simply means that given the facts in evidence one side is more convincing or more likely true than not to be true (i.e. more than 50% true). This is a much lower standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which means that it does not take much to prove a case against you in a medical disciplinary hearing.
Since there is a lower burden of proof in professional misconduct hearings, you can still lose your professional license even though you had the criminal charges dismissed against you. In addition, if you plead guilty in a criminal forum which has a higher burden of proof, this plea can be binding in a civil or administrative forum which has a lower burden of proof.
Should I Contact An Attorney?
It can be devastating to work your whole life in establishing a professional practice only to make one mistake or face allegations that may potentially cost you your medical license. In many cases simply being accused of some misconduct can result in license suspension. You need your license to legally practice in your chosen profession and earn your livelihood. If you have a professional license and are facing criminal charges, you need an experienced attorney to help keep your record clean and help you get your professional license restored.