The Situation: A physician was out for dinner with his wife and a few friends. They all had a few drinks. The physician thought he was okay to drive. On the way home, he was pulled over by the police and charged with driving under the influence. This was his first DUI arrest. He retained a criminal attorney to represent him in the criminal matter. However, he received a letter in the mail from the state’s Voluntary Recovery Program offering him an opportunity for evaluation and admission into the program. Should he agree to the evaluation?
The Potential Issues: State board of medicine licensing implications; reputational implications; and criminal prosecution.
The Solution: First and foremost, he should immediately contact a healthcare attorney who is experienced in these types of situations involving the VRP. The criminal attorney is usually not experienced with the VRP and state licensing board matters. The criminal attorney and healthcare attorney can work together to maximally represent the physician’s dual interests.
Whenever I am contacted about a matter like this, the physician often wants to move ahead with the evaluation offered by the state recovery program, thinking that it is what should be done; however, often times, doing so is not the best approach for the physician. These types of state recovery programs were created for healthcare professionals who have a true addiction issue and are not otherwise appropriate for those that do not. A one-time DUI offense is not the type of situation for the state recovery program. An experienced healthcare attorney can help you evaluate your options so that you can decide on what is the best response for you.
In addition, once the state recovery program is notified that you are not going to move forward with the evaluation, the state recovery program in many states will forward your file on to your relevant state board of medicine. The state board of medicine will then evaluate your file and consider whether it will issue any discipline. This is again another area where an experienced lawyer can help you. There are also potential implications to your hospital privileges and/or payor contracts. The issues are all related, and a global approach is necessary to put the physician in the best position to address these issues.
ABOUT MAGGIE DICOSTANZO
firstname.lastname@example.org | 717.980.3142
Maggie DiCostanzo is a principal attorney in Offit Kurman’s Healthcare practice group. For nearly 20 years she has focused her legal practice by representing physicians, hospitals, post-acute care facilities, and other healthcare professionals, delivering health law advice and counseling as well as representation in regulatory, general liability, and professional liability matters. She is also a registered patent attorney with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and drafts licensing agreements and other intellectual property-related documents. Ms. DiCostanzo also assists lawyers in Offit Kurman’s other practice groups, including Business Law and Transactions, to address discreet healthcare issues.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 17 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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