Physicians who have lost their Medical Board license or find themselves on probation are often legally entitled to petition for license reinstatement or relief from license probation, under Business and Professions Code section 2307. This process is accessible to unrepresented parties through a petition, with instructions, available online. It is preferable, however, to hire an experienced licensing and regulatory law firm such as Ray & Bishop, PLC, to handle such matters. Below are some important aspects of Medical Board petitions for penalty relief – early termination of probation, relief from conditions of probation, and reinstatement of a revoked license.
These Cases Are Usually Not Settled – They Go through Formal Hearing
While there is no prohibition against Board settlement of a petition for penalty relief, these cases are usually decided by an Administrative Law Judge at a formal hearing. In the case of many other licensing agencies, penalty relief petitions may be heard by a board itself at a board meeting (usually in a 20 or 30 minute time slot), but in the Medical Board’s case, these matters are fully litigated. The Administrative Law Judge issues a proposed decision after hearing, which must be adopted by the Medical Board. If the Board decides to non-adopt the proposed decision, the non-adoption proceeds to a panel of the Medical Board for consideration of written and oral arguments.
Each Petition for Penalty Relief is Investigated by a Board Investigator
All of the contents of the Petition for Penalty Relief, the attachments, and the background of the physician or former physician, are thoroughly investigated by a Medical Board of California investigator. The investigation typically involves an interview of the petitioner (the physician or former physician); interviews of individuals who write letters in support of the petition; investigation of the authenticity of all supporting documents; and a thorough background check of the physician or former physician. These investigations can be quite invasive. For example, the Board investigator may check the C.U.R.E.S. report of the petitioner to look for evidence of disability or mental illness.
Not Every Physician or Former Physician Is Eligible for Penalty Relief
Petitions for Penalty Relief can only be filed after certain waiting periods, and if certain conditions are met. For example, a physician whose license was revoked can only petition after three years have passed since the revocation or surrender of the license, however, in certain specific conditions a two year waiting period may apply. For early termination of probation or relief from conditions of probation, the waiting period depends upon the length of Board probation. And a physician or former physician who is on criminal probation, on criminal parole, or under investigation by the Board may be denied penalty relief without a hearing.
The Legislative, Political and Public Policy Landscape for Penalty Relief Petitions is Always Shifting
Pending in the California Legislature is Assembly Bill 1636, which would prohibit the reinstatement of licenses of physicians who have been disciplined for sexual misconduct or were required to register as a sex offender. This legislation comes on the heels of significant media criticism of the Medical Board for perceived leniency in the discipline of California physicians. Such crosscurrents can be difficult to navigate for individuals and less experienced attorneys who lack insight into the Board’s policy judgments based upon the current regulatory environment and public concerns.
Ray & Bishop, PLC, has a deep fund of knowledge and experience in advocacy for early termination of probation, termination of probation conditions, and reinstatement of physician licenses. This process can be quite difficult, time consuming, invasive, and hazardous. However, with an experienced attorney onboard, a thoughtful cost-benefit analysis can be done before petitioning and the chances for success can be optimized.