Case Studies: Medical Student Defense

Medical Student Avoids Dismissal for Alleged Unprofessional Conduct

A prominent Midwestern medical school at a large public university charged our client, an international student in her fourth year, with violating professional medical standards. The allegations had to do with our client's performance in her clinical work under clinical supervisors. Our client had completed her medical coursework with outstanding grades. She also had no issues with medical board certification. But our client's relatively underdeveloped social skills and English language skills contributed to communication or interpersonal issues between our client and two of her clinical supervisors, who worked closely together and had an intimate relationship with one another. Those two supervisors evaluated our client poorly, even though our client received strong positive evaluations from all other supervisors. Our client had also declined to join those supervisors on social outings on at least two occasions, which our client felt had affected her evaluations. Our client promptly retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team when the medical school notified our client of academic progress and professional misconduct charges relating to the evaluations. The notice threatened our client's suspension or dismissal. We promptly investigated our client's matter, including examining and analyzing all available clinical evaluations. Our analysis tended to show the subjective and coordinated nature of the two critical supervisors' evaluations. We helped our client appeal the evaluations first to a committee and then to the medical school president. The committee agreed that the evaluations were unusually subjective but let them stand. The president refused to accept the committee's recommendation, sending the matter back to the committee, the result of which was the reversal of the recommendation and dismissal of the charges. Our client remained in good standing, able to complete her clinical courses.

Medical Student Wins Reinstatement Through Personal Interview With School President

Our client entered a small private medical school in a Southern state with a strong academic record and having had no issues with taking and passing rigorous exams and courses. Our client also had a disability protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. But medication had treated our client's disability sufficiently for him to perform at high academic levels. Yet when our client lost access to his medications while in medical school, he fell into an up-and-down pattern of academic struggles, probation, remediation, and good standing. In the middle of our client's second year of medical school, school officials finally dismissed him for failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress. School officials didn't want our client to even attempt medical board certification, despite the fact that our client had previously been a strong standardized exam performer. When the dismissed student retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team, we were able to help the student perfect an appeal of his dismissal. Our research of the student handbook showed that the most favorable form of appeal involved a personal interview with the school president. Our client initially had little confidence that he could handle a convincing interview. But our preparation of our client helped him gain the ability to clearly articulate his achievable plan to complete medical school. The school president reinstated our client, giving him the chance to proceed with medical board certification.

Physician Assistant Student Summarily Dismissed Gains Quick Reversal of Dismissal From Program

A private medical school in the Northeast United States summarily dismissed our client for failure to academically progress, with barely any notice, and after having promised that she would only be on probation. When our client, in the physician assistant program at the medical school, retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team, we promptly pushed the school to reinstate her to the program. Through a swift and thorough investigation and presentation to school officials, we were able to show the school that our client's academic challenges were due entirely to pandemic effects, including online instruction, isolation from student study partners and study resources, and related financial hardships. Our client had begun her program during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, which were far from ideal circumstances for starting a professional program. We showed the school how our client's academic performance and personal management, including finances, improved dramatically as soon as the school returned to in-person, on-campus instruction. Under the exigent pandemic circumstances, the school plainly should have given our client the chance to proceed to regain satisfactory academic progress. We were able to swiftly negotiate alternatives to dismissal, including tuition reimbursement in the form of credit for the coming academic year, plus program readmission. Fortunately, with our swift and sure action, our client avoided further hardship, including any further loss of credit, time, or finances. Our client proceeded with her education in good standing, headed toward a satisfying physician assistant career.

Medical Student Avoids Dismissal Over Poor Clinical Evaluations by Negotiating Supervisor Reassignment

A private medical school in a large Southern border state brought professionalism charges against our client based on poor evaluations of our client's clinical performance. Our client's initial clinical evaluations under his first supervisors were mostly strong and all generally positive. But our client, an older student with military leadership experience, sensed a personality conflict with a younger female clinical supervisor. The supervisor repeatedly corrected and criticized our client, including for clinic orders that our client had not made and documentation for which our client was not responsible. Other medical students and nurses noticed and commented on the supervisor's unfair treatment of our client, privately to our client. The supervisor also evaluated our client's clinical practice so poorly that he failed to meet the medical school's clinical standards. When the medical school notified our client that he could be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal, he retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team. We promptly communicated our retention to the medical school's general counsel, requesting a conference at which we helped our client respectfully request and firmly advocate for additional clinical hours under a different supervisor. The general counsel obtained the dean's consent to the negotiated resolution. Our client completed his additional clinical hours with strong positive evaluations, confirming that his low evaluations had been inappropriately biased and subjective. The negotiated resolution left no negative record of discipline or remediation against our client.

Medical Resident Avoids Residency Non-Renewal Over Malpractice and Failure to Perform Allegations

A private medical school just outside the Continental United States placed our client in a medical residency program in the Southeastern United States. Near the end of our client's first residency year, a patient alleged serious injury from mistreatment involving several physicians and nurses, including our client. The allegations were in the form of a demand letter the patient's attorney served on the hospital's risk manager. The risk manager shared the letter with the residency program committee for review of our client's role. Without contacting our client over the malpractice allegations, the committee recommended our client's non-renewal in the program, leaving our client without a second-year residency. Our client thus retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team to challenge the non-renewal. Our investigation of medical and academic records the program shared with us at our proper procedural demand documented that our client had at all times acted under the close supervision of the program's faculty and site supervisors, particularly as to the involved patient. The hospital's risk manager and insurance representative had already denied to the patient's attorney that any employee, including our client had committed any malpractice. The hospital also claimed that the patient had not suffered any iatrogenic injury, only the regular course of the patient's challenging and largely untreatable disease. Our appeal of the committee's preliminary recommendation resulted in the committee's reversal of its recommendation. The residency program then offered our client the second year of the residency, enabling our client to proceed with completing his medical education to qualify for medical licensure.

Medical Student Reverses Reprimand for Alleged Falsification of Records and Failure to Document in Clinical Course

A private offshore medical school in the Caribbean charged our client with several substandard acts in a clinical course, including falsifying medical records and failure to accurately document medical conditions in medical records. The charges, which could have resulted in suspension or dismissal and, in fact, initially resulted in a written reprimand, all arose out of a single incident. Our client had been on clinical duty completing required clinical hours when our client's supervisor directed our client to complete the documentation for a patient who had suffered cardiac arrest while in the hospital ward. Our client completed the documentation according to what our client had observed, and the lab reports and physician and nursing notes were reflected. But the supervisor later directed our client to change the documentation to alter some details, omit other details, and include other matters our client had not witnessed and for which our client had no other information than the supervisor's instructions. Our client nonetheless made the changes, believing that the supervisor had exercised reasonable judgment in guiding and teaching our client as to correct documentation. A committee review of the adverse ward event revealed our client's record changes, resulting in disciplinary charges. After our client retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team, we were able to show that our client had simply followed what appeared to be reasonable supervisor instructions. The supervisor professed no memory of the event, but nurse observations tended to corroborate our client's statement. The medical school's disciplinary officials dismissed the charges, leaving our client with a clean record under which to continue his medical education.

Medical Student Avoids Dismissal After Overdose Resulting in Drug Abuse and Suicide Allegations

A medical school at a public university along the West Coast charged our client with suspected drug abuse and a suicide attempt demonstrating unfitness. The charges threatened our client's immediate dismissal from the medical program, despite our client's strong grades and performance across three years of medical school. Our client retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team for our help in documenting the reasons for our client's lone incident leading to the charges. Our client had a perfect health and attendance record prior to the incident. Our client was nonetheless feeling some light anxiety and sleeplessness, doubtless relating to the extraordinary demands of the medical program, which our client was meeting in every respect. On the recommendation and prescription of a physician in our client's family, our client attempted to take sleep medication and anxiety medication for the first time in his life. Our client, unfortunately, had a severe drug reaction, perhaps from the ill-advised mix of the two prescriptions. Emergency physicians misdiagnosed our client's condition as a drug overdose, leading to our client's disciplinary charges for suspected drug addiction and attempted suicide. Our presentation to the medical school's investigating official satisfied the investigator that our client had indeed suffered an adverse drug reaction rather than intentionally or unintentionally overdosed on prescription medication. The investigator recommended and the dean approved dismissal of all charges. Our strong national reputation, prompt representation, and thorough documentation were the keys to a prompt resolution, preserving our client from the stress and distraction of an extended disciplinary proceeding and uncertain hearing.

Offshore Medical Student Avoids Dismissal After Term Withdrawals for Family Responsibilities

Our client, a U.S. citizen attending an offshore medical school, had left his wife and two young children at their U.S. home while he pursued his medical studies. Unfortunately, his wife faced a sudden-onset, serious illness that required months of medical care and resulted in her disability from most childcare and household duties. Our client's parents and parents-in-law initially provided part-time, temporary household services and childcare but could not continue as the wife's condition worsened. Our client's medical school initially granted our client a school leave to attend to his wife's care. But when our client could not return as scheduled, the medical school threatened to cancel the leave and dismiss the student. Our client then retained the Lento Law Firm's student defense team to negotiate with the school while preparing to challenge the impending dismissal through school procedures and in court if necessary. Fortunately, our team had worked with the medical school's officials on prior cases and were able to negotiate a prompt extension of our client's leave to care for his wife. We were also able to gain our student's remote access to study materials necessary for our client to continue to prepare for board exams. Our client soon returned to the medical school to continue his studies and complete his medical degree. Our client suffered no substantial delay in his curriculum despite the family leave.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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