I just received a notice of proposed discipline – what does this mean?

If you have received a notice of proposed disciplinary action, it most likely means that your licensing board, whether it be the Oregon Medical Board, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, or the Oregon State Board of Nursing (or any of the other state licensing boards in Oregon), has concluded its investigation, reached certain conclusions about your practice standards, and is now proposing to discipline you for one or more deficiencies, by imposing one or more sanctions upon you.

The range of sanctions

Sanctions include being reprimanded; having your license to practice medicine, pharmacy, or nursing temporarily suspended, indefinitely suspended, or permanently suspended; or having your license to practice medicine, pharmacy, or nursing permanently revoked. Sanctions further include monetary fines, continuing education, recurrent training, the imposition of a mentor and monitoring, and periods of probation (five years is not uncommon). One or more sanctions, in combination, may be imposed by your licensing board, as the board sees fit.

Illicit drug use; impairment; fitness to practice your profession

If illicit drug use or abuse is involved, then you should further expect to complete an assessment and the drug treatment necessary to restore your health. If you are impaired, or your fitness to practice as a physician, pharmacist, or nurse is at issue, these assessments may be extensive and expensive, and may require travel to an approved facility.

The board’s concerns

The general concern of all healthcare licensing boards is to ensure patient safety and the competency of the individual practitioner. If a pharmacy is involved, the board will further want to ensure the security of the drug inventory.

What are the next steps?

If you haven’t been represented by licensure counsel thus far, the next step is to retain legal counsel. Too many health care providers wait to obtain legal advice until shortly before or after being interviewed by field investigators or licensing boards, or worse, after receiving written findings and proposed sanctions, i.e., a notice of proposed disciplinary action. At this point, your licensing board has reached conclusions about your practice, and at this late date, your opportunity to participate and influence proposed findings and sanctions has been greatly diminished, but there is still important work to do. The next step is to negotiate a settlement, or to proceed to an administrative hearing. No matter what you do, you need legal counsel. You have waited too long if you have not retained legal counsel at this point.