If you are a physician, pharmacist, or nurse applying for a new license, or submitting a renewal application on an existing license, you have faced the “disclosure questions” that can be troublesome for some to answer. If you have recently hit the “submit” button, and experienced a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, you know what I am talking about.
Avoiding mistakes in the first place – one example
A common example is the arrest, stop, or conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicants – or a DUII. You must read the disclosure questions carefully, and just because you answered “no” in one state does not mean you will be able to answer “no” in all states in which you are licensed, or seek a new license. For example, a physician licensed in California, Oregon, and Washington, filing online renewal applications, will face different questions in each state and, depending on the facts of the DUII, may not need to disclose the traffic stop in Californian or Washington, but will almost always be required to disclose the traffic stop in Oregon. It all comes down to the specific facts of your case and how each state’s disclosure questions are worded and, with respect to this example, the Oregon Board of Medicine asks the tougher question. To avoid mistakes, it is necessary to read the disclosure questions very carefully, and to answer each question accurately. If you have a doubt, or experience that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, stop, and consult an experienced licensure lawyer immediately.
Too late? – Correct your mistake by filing an amended application
If you are a physician, pharmacists or nurse, and you have recently answered “no” to a disclosure question that required a “yes” answer, if you take quick action, it is not too late to amend your license application, to correct your mistake. I recently represented a out-of-state nurse that found herself in such a position. She had a minor criminal history incurred while she was young, before she was a nurse. She very much wanted an Oregon nurse’s license, and she did not want to make a mistake that would risk her license application, but the moment she submitted her online application to the Oregon State Board of Nursing, she feared she has acted too quickly, and that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach set in. She called me, and I quickly called the Oregon State Board of Nursing, to ask that the Board hold off and wait for our amended application. Together we reviewed her application for completeness, and determined a small amount of information should be supplemented, and we quickly furnished it to the Board of Nursing, supplementing, or amending, her previous application. The Board of Nursing responding favorably, and she is now an Oregon registered nurse.
What not to do
I am aware of one case involving an out-of-state pharmacist that never disclosed a decades-old drunk driving arrest, and another case involving a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) that never disclosed a decades-old disorderly conduct arrest. Their failure to disclose in other states went undetected for numerous renewal periods, creating a false sense of comfort, until the pharmacist and the nurse each applied for licenses in Oregon, with the Oregon Board of Pharmacy and the Oregon State Board of Nursing, and their failure to disclose was caught.
For whatever reason, an old incident that should have been disclosed in each case, but was not, and was never caught elsewhere, was caught in Oregon. I don’t know if this was due to constant improvements in search engines and data banks, or if the background checks in Oregon are more rigorous, but it matters not – if disclosure was required, and the failure to disclosure is caught, you have a problem.
Medical licensing Boards see the failure to disclose as a veracity problem, not a mistake, and oftentimes the failure to disclose is worse than the underlying problem that required disclosure in the first place. Do not make this mistake. Take proactive steps to correct your application before the mistake is discovered. Please know that once the mistake is caught by your licensing Board, it is no longer considered a mistake. You now have a larger problem.