The prevalence of medical malpractice lawsuits in New York is enough to scare many physicians out of practicing medicine. Unfortunately, “defensive” medicine has become part and parcel of current practice as physicians search for safeguards against malpractice lawsuits. Nevertheless, we continue to see exorbitant malpractice awards being levied against physicians. But physicians in New York may have an even bigger worry — an investigation by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (“OPMC”). Physicians are strongly encouraged to seek the counsel of a health care attorney if notified that the OPMC has commenced an investigation.
What Is the OPMC and Why Is It so Scary?
The OPMC is the division of the New York State Department of Health tasked with investigating allegations of physician misconduct. If a patient files a complaint against you, the OPMC will launch an investigation. The complaint can relate to any type of medical misconduct, including negligence, harassment, or any other mistreatment of a patient, and making false statements, to name just a few. It is essential to properly deal with an OPMC investigation at the onset, as investigations that are successfully closed in the initial stage do not become matters of public record. If, however, the OPMC determines that you did commit misconduct, the allegations become public and can lead to insurance and privilege terminations, not to mention damage to your reputation. If the OPMC decides to advance formal charges, you may need to defend yourself at a hearing.
How to Avoid Disciplinary Action By the OPMC
You can implement certain measures in your practice to protect yourself in the event a patient complains to OPMC:
- Keep thorough and accurate records of every patient visit and all communications with patients
- Communicate openly with patients about the risks associated with treatments and procedures they will undergo and do not give them false hope about their prognosis
- Keep your website and online presence up to date to provide accurate information to patients
- If a patient tells you or your office staff that they plan to file a complaint about you, contact a health care attorney immediately
The sooner you contact a health care attorney, the greater the likelihood that you will avoid unfair disciplinary actions against you.
Contact Norris McLaughlin About Accusations of Physician Misconduct
Finding out that a patient has complained about you to the OPMC or has threatened to file a complaint about you can be devastating, but a health care attorney can help you resolve the situation as quickly as possible.