Provided by: Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
June 8, 2017
I just received a letter from the NYS Office of Professional Medical Conduct, what should I do?
Thanks in advance, Dr. P
Michael Foster, Esq., asked if he could address this one. Here is his response -
As many New York Physicians are aware, the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) is the department in the NYS Department of Health responsible for investigating professional misconduct of any kind. The OPMC has the authority to handle cases ranging from the mishandling of patients to lying on employment and licensure applications. Your first reaction when receiving a letter from the OPMC might be to panic. This is understandable as you have spent years building of time and effort building a career and a practice. It is important to remember that the OPMC must investigate EVERY complaint. No matter how minor the complaint is, the OPMC is required by law to investigate. In addition, your first instinct might be to call and explain yourself or offer up all the information you have because you feel you have nothing to hide. However, oftentimes this is not the best move. We have previously handled case before where the OPMC accused a Physician of being dishonest and instead of retaining counsel; she may have hurt herself in the long run by giving a statement and eventually, contradicting herself multiple times. The importance of retaining counsel who is familiar with the proceedings and inner workings of the Department cannot be understated even for the most minor issues.
Another aspect of dealing with the OPMC to be wary about is the proposed consent offers. These “settlement agreements” are often filled with many complex legal terms and are viewed by many as a way to simply make this all go away. However, one should always be aware of what they are signing and should never sign a proposed consent offer without having read it in full with legal counsel. For instance, while the proposed consent order might only be a suspension of your license in New York or a public censure, what you may not know is that this will likely trigger investigations by the licensing boards in other states you may hold licenses, through a National databank which OPMC notifies.
(Jennifer here) I don't talk about our OPMC and OPD work much because the scenarios we address are very specific and personal; we do handle OPMC, OPD, NPDB, and privileges matters on a daily basis. Our results, which we are happy to discuss on a client- anonymous basis, speak for themselves. K&K is on both the MLMIC and PRI panels, as well as specialty insurer panels (ask for more names...). We find there is no substitute for familiarity of forum and commitment to the best client outcome through thorough preparation and client protectionism, with efficiency and cost containment in mind. If you find yourself on the wrong side of an inquiry, always call as a first priority. Do not wait. We may be able to stave off a more severe outcome by addressing immediately.
Contact Jennifer or Michael for more information or as needed.