Advising and representing resident physicians facing discipline and program termination

Physicians must complete residency training, practicing medicine in a hospital or clinic under the supervision of an attending physician before being allowed to practice alone without direct or indirect immediate oversight. Many remember the television show, House M.D., staring Hugh Laurie, the attending physician who challenged resident doctors, some of whom, were terminated or simply quit under pressure. Without completing a residency program, these doctors are limited to supervised medical practice. Depending on the program, residency can last three to seven years. When a resident physician is terminated from their residency program, it can stop their career path in its tracks; a resident cannot easily jump into a new program like students can retake classes. Options can include packing up and walking away, or taking prudent steps to save their career in medicine. There are legal considerations for terminated residency program participants.

The best time to talk to an attorney is before you are removed from a hospital residency program.

There are many potential reasons a resident physician could be facing termination from their residency program. In most cases, the procedures involved in terminating a resident involve a hearing before the hospital disciplinary board. Preparing for that hearing and being represented by a healthcare attorney is absolutely necessary when your medical career is on the line. When there are options to appeal a negative hospital disciplinary board decision, the window of team for filing an appeal is usually very short.

Your attorney will likely ask you for a copy of any and all relevant hospital procedures manuals as well as your evaluations, personnel files, and credentialing information. If you are in a position where there will be a hearing with a disciplinary board and you do not have an attorney present, it is best not to sign anything. When answering questions, it can be detrimental to offer more information than necessary to answer simple questions. If you can, talk to an attorney before a hearing before a disciplinary board so you can be prepared. The information you provide at a disciplinary hearing becomes part of the record, something to consider if you plan to appeal an adverse decision.

The results of a disciplinary board investigation and hearing can include suspension, resignation or termination.

While a temporary suspension may be undesirable and inconvenient, your residency is in less jeopardy than being affected by other forms of discipline. The board may weigh allegations of infractions against overall performance and likelihood of future errant practice. The tone of a resident in their response to board inquiry is significant. In the event of a decision to terminate the resident from their program can be followed by an appeal. Winning an appeal of a board finding and decision can be challenging.

The board may offer the resident an option to voluntarily resign from the residency program. A voluntary withdrawal or resignation can be less detrimental when applying to a new residency program in another health system.

Contractual duties and obligations affecting hospital residents.

Most resident programs require participants to sign an agreement containing the terms and conditions of the residency program. Some may want to file a lawsuit against the hospital in connection with an adverse residency program decision. Within most agreements there are provisions for dispute resolution and it is likely there is a mandatory binding arbitration provision. The results of arbitration and the decision of the arbitrator is binding and can be very difficult to overturn with an appeal. Therefore, unless there is clear errant action by the hospital or board, a complaint against them may not only fail to lead you to your requested relief, it may be a negative experience you may have to explain in the future.

The advice and counsel of an experienced health care law and professional licensing attorney is important to any resident physician who may be called to defend their conduct and practice.

For various reasons stated in this article, there are appropriate times to prepare for a hospital residency investigation or review before an administrative or disciplinary board. With the benefit of many years’ experience in working with discipline, public and private organizations overseeing medical practice, Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. can advise and represent any resident physician or similar healthcare professional facing review or discipline by administrative agencies and hospital boards. The earlier a potential problem is addressed, the more likely it is that a positive resolution can be obtained through the proper navigation and participation in the administrative process.

About us: Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. Please visit and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his profile and on LinkedIn.



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