Anyone can file a complaint against a doctor to the Medical Board of California. According to Fierce Healthcare, the medical professionals on the board consequently have an enormous range of power to make or break the physician’s career through the investigation.

It is crucial for the doctor to respond in the right way to protect his or her professional career from the fallout. Here are some tips for dealing with a medical board investigation.

Seek legal assistance

Even though a board investigation is not a court case, Medscape explains that like a defendant in a criminal trial, the doctor has the right to due process, and anything he or she says could be dangerous.

Find out what the investigation is about

An investigator may ask for an interview or records without ever letting the doctor know what he or she is looking for. Not only that, investigators may begin the search because of a complaint and then find something else that they feel is noteworthy and investigate that, as well. The following topics spark many investigations:

  • Prescriptions of narcotics
  • DUI conviction
  • Insufficient documentation in patient records
  • Wrong-site surgery (or the potential for it)
  • Conflicts with colleagues
  • Malpractice litigation

If the investigation leads to discipline, even when a doctor does not lose his or her license, it could still cause serious adverse effects. For example, a hospital may suspend or terminate the physician, or insurers may cancel contracts.

Tell the truth

If there is a valid complaint that could result in discipline, telling the truth may result in much less harm than attempting to conceal the facts. Although it is important not to say too much, it is also critical to be honest.