Those who practice medicine work to protect their patients. This can mean a need to order tests to check on the safety and health of a patient. But what happens if that patient disagrees or forgets that they consented to the test?
Do patients complain about medical tests?
In a recent example out of New Jersey, two mothers have stated that their medical team conducted drug tests without their knowledge. The women, who were in labor at the time of the tests, argue that they were not medically necessary. They further argue that the positive results for opioid use was due to consumption of bagels with poppy seeds prior to giving birth. The women state in their complaint that the medical team then reported the results to child protective services which triggered an investigation and caused unnecessary interference with the first few months that they spent with their newborns.
The women are moving forward with a civil suit and the hospital has announced that it will also investigate the matter. The situation poses another interesting question: could these types of allegations result in an investigation from the medical board?
Would the medical board investigate this type of complaint?
The answer will depend on the state. In New York, an investigation by the New York State Health Department’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) and the state Board of Professional Medical Conduct is generally triggered by an official complaint. This can come from a fellow medical professional or member of the public — including patients like the women in this story. If officials receive such a complaint, the first step is generally to review the complaint to see if there is any evidence or foundation to warrant further investigation.
Another potential route that would result in an investigation involves hospital action. Hospital officials are required to report any disciplinary action on medical professionals. As such action by the board could also be triggered if the above scenario resulted in disciplinary action from the hospital.
These allegations are serious and can have a catastrophic impact on one’s professional reputation. If they rise to an investigation by the board, they can lead to a suspension or even revocation of your medical license. Do not take these matters lightly. If facing similar accusations reach out to professionals and start building a defense to protect your career.
Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication