Physicians face Investigation and Prosecution on Multiple Fronts
Unsurprisingly, unlike all other licensed professions, aspiring doctors must report all criminal convictions even minor traffic offenses. Convictions include felony and misdemeanor convictions secured through guilty pleas and “no contest” pleas and includes convictions that have been expunged.
The Board can take disciplinary action even if you successfully complete a court ordered drug diversion program such as deferred entry. However, you are not required to report arrests that did not result in criminal convictions.
The application process for a surgeon or physician license requires fingerprinted background checks, so even a conviction that does not appear to be substantially related to the functions or duties of a physician like a DUI, may be revealed after further investigation.
Criminal convictions that are “substantially related” to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician can trigger Board discipline. Some crimes are obviously related to the medical practice. Medical Practice Act violations include alcohol and drug related crimes (like DUI, drug possession or public intoxication), crimes requiring registration as a sex offender (including rape, lewd act with a minor, or sexual exploitation of a patient and battery). Other crimes that would call into question your ability to practice medicine in California include murder (obviously), solicitation of perjury, accessory to medical fraud, and petty theft with priors.
Reporting Obligations of Practicing Physicians
Once you receive your license, your duty to report crime does not stop. As a physician, your obligation to disclose convictions did not end when you submitted your license application. Unlike other California professionals, you have an ongoing duty to report to the Board felony and misdemeanor convictions as well as felony indictments. The Board has ways of discovering charges and convictions and does not look favorably on perceived dishonesty of licensees and applicants, so it is in your best interests to disclose as much as possible than omit.
Over the past ten years in Orange County alone, 123 doctors have sought reinstatement in the past decade after they lost their licenses for misconduct or negligence. According to the OC Register, 66 were reinstated and only sixteen found themselves in trouble again.
Depending on the severity of the crime and the surrounding circumstances the Board will take expedited action where a licensee has been incarcerated after conviction of a felony. Some drug possession cases that started out as felonies may later be changed to misdemeanors depending on the circumstances.
Obviously, if you serve time on a misdemeanor is not as bad as serving time for a felony. To minimize the consequences of your drug possession charge or DUI call Defense Lawyer Corporation at 949-347-5478 for a consultation.