Beware when consenting to a temporary restriction on your medical license

How long? – Longer than you think, plan for the “duration”

Physicians, pharmacists and nurses under Board investigation are occasionally asked to sign an Interim Stipulated Order (ISO) or Interim Consent Order (ICO) accepting a voluntary restriction on their license or, worse, suspending practice pending the outcome of the investigation.  Although it may be suggested that the voluntary temporary restriction could soon be lifted, frequently the process necessary to resolve the issue will take six to 12 months, often longer for physicians due to the complexity and risks associated with a physician’s practice and the Medical Board’s case load.

What else? – Consider the following:

  • National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) reports

A physician, pharmacist or nurse consenting to a restriction on his or her license will also need to manage the consequences of a report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).  There are many events that will trigger a data bank report and consenting to a restriction on your license to practice medicine, pharmacy or nursing, is one of them.

  •  Board Certification, credentialing, and/or employment

A board certified physician consenting to a restriction on his or her medical license should assume, until it is established otherwise, that his or her board certification will be withdrawn, and that credentialing may be at risk too.  Further, some employer’s will terminate a restricted physician.  The Veterans Administration (VA), for example, requires every physician to have at least one unrestricted medical license.  While it is possible to practice with a restricted license or DEA Registration, it takes planning.

  •  DEA Registrations

A prescribing physician, physician’s assistant (PA), or nurse practitioner (NP) should also consider the impact of a restricted license on his or her DEA Registration.  Remember, in order to hold a DEA Registration, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requires every DEA Registrant to possess valid state authority to prescribe controlled substances.  Consequently, if you consent to a restriction on your prescribing privileges, or consent to voluntarily withdraw from practice pending the outcome of an investigation, you should be ready for a call from a DEA agent requesting the surrender of your DEA Registration.  Thus far I have had success convincing the DEA to await the outcome of the investigation, but nothing is certain, and you should need to plan accordingly.

Bottom line: Plan for all the consequences of a restricted medical license

If you are a physician, pharmacist or nurse under investigation and your licensing Board requests that you consent to one or more restrictions on your medical license, you need to know that the restriction will probably last more than a few months and there are numerous other consequences to consider depending upon your type of practice and level of licensure.  Each case is different and there may be more to consider than is discussed here. Diligence and planning is required to survive a restriction on your medical license.