You’re a physician, pharmacist, or nurse, and you just learned a complaint has been filed against you with the Oregon Medical Board, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, or the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Now what?
Stop, collect your thoughts, establish the first deadline
If you just received word-of-mouth notice, or a letter from your licensing Board, time is momentarily on your side, so take advantage of it. Avoid knee jerk reactions. Whatever you do, do not call your licensing Board or the investigator that sent you a letter. You’re not ready. You’re too emotionally involved. Instead, establish the first deadline. Get time under control. Stop. Think.
Don’t assume you know the substance of the Board complaint
It is only natural to speculate about the nature of the complaint. The tendency is to speculate based upon what you know, and then rationalize why the Board complaint is unfounded. The problem with this approach is that your knowledge of the complaint is most often limited, and your conclusions may therefore be wrong. This is no way to plan your defense.
Retain a healthcare defense attorney with experience defending licenses for physicians, pharmacists, and nurses
The better approach is to have a healthcare defense attorney contact the investigator, to learn about the complaint and to further discover what most concerns the investigator. Be aware that this call to your investigator is not a call you can make well, because once the investigator explains the basis of the complaint, a reaction will expected of you. It’s only natural; this is the way conversation works. You, however, will not be prepared to answer. Yet there you are, on the phone with the investigator, your mind racing, wondering how to respond to fill the silence. This is no time to be experimenting with answers. Again, the better approach is to have an experienced healthcare defense attorney contact the investigator. Your attorney will then share this information with you in a private setting where the issues and concerns may be thoughtfully explored, without risk to you. Remember, your best answer to the complaint will take some time and work to marshal; it will not emerge extemporaneously during a first phone call with the investigator. Have your attorney make that first call instead.
Don’t blame others until you have explained your role
If others were involved in the circumstances setting up the Board complaint, do not blame them, at least not at first. For some, placing blame where it belongs is a strong personal instinct. If others were involved, they will be investigated or interviewed too. When it is your turn, the investigator wants to understand your role in the circumstances behind the complaint and, until your role is satisfactorily understood, blaming others will come off as evasive, uncooperative, and non-responsive. Don’t make this mistake. An experienced healthcare defense attorney will help you avoid this mistake. And remember, if your role in the complaint was truly small and non-contributing, it will not take long to explain, and a good explanation will reference the participation of others, from which the investigator will draw all appropriate conclusions. In the context of a medical Board investigation, blaming others requires a deft touch.