Our office represented a medical doctor who sustained a conviction of Vehicle Code Section 23125(b). The doctor had a high blood alcohol content (BAC), and was involved in an accident. Although no one was injured, the potential for injury was high.
Pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 802.1, all individuals licensed by the Medical Board of California are required to disclose his/her convictions within 30 days. On the MD’s behalf, our office disclosed the conviction, and prepared our client for interview.
The Medical Board of California takes criminal convictions for DUIs seriously. Although Business and Professions Code Section 2239(a) states that it is unprofessional conduct to sustain “more than one misdemeanor” involving the consumption of alcohol, the Board does not limit their ability to discipline licensees for sustaining a singular DUI conviction. Business and Professions code section 2239(a) also states that it is unprofessional conduct to consume alcohol “to the extent, or in such a manner as to be dangerous” to the licensee or the public. As such the Board purposefully retains broad discretion to discipline physicians after a singular conviction.
After submitting the initial 802.1 disclosure, our client prepared for an interview with a Medical Board special investigator. To aid in preparation, our office counseled the doctor to (1) begin therapy, (2) to complete continuing education programing on the topics of Substance Abuse in the Medical Profession, Ethics, and Stress Management, (3) to obtain documentation of abstinence from alcohol, (4) to obtain documentary evidence of rehabilitation and excellence in the field of medicine, and (5) to submit to a forensic evaluation.
Several months after submitting the initial disclosure packet to the Board, the Board’s special investigator requested an interview with our client. Our client followed our recommendations, gathered the requested documentation, and was fully prepared to participate in an interview with the Medical Board. Our client showed sincere remorse for the transgression, accepted full responsibility for the lapse in proper judgment, demonstrated abstinence from alcohol, and provided documentation of the full support of their employer and colleagues. After the interview, the Medical Board reviewed the lengthy packet of mitigation and ultimately elected to close the case against our doctor without discipline.
Avoiding discipline from the Medical Board is extremely important for our medical clientele. If the medical board initiates disciplinary proceedings, and if discipline is imposed, a chain reaction ignites, causing ramifications in many aspects of our clients’ careers. First and foremost, discipline imposed by the Medical Board of California is public. Discipline is not only viewable on Breeze, but also appears in the ”hot sheets” and in the Board’s quarterly newsletter. As such our client’s biggest mistakes are disseminated for public knowledge.
Additionally, as a result of California license discipline, other discipline or ramifications may follow. Some collateral consequences include (but not limited to): out of state license discipline, placement of the OIG exclusion list, loss of hospital privileges, loss of insurance coverage, impact to DEA certificate, etc.
Given the potential collateral consequences it is important to take the disclosure of your criminal conviction seriously, and vigorously prepare for the MBC interview. Taking proactive (although cumbersome) steps during the criminal court process could substantially aid in reducing licensing penalties.
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