Medical Resident Defense Advisor in New Hampshire

You're a medical resident. Congratulations. It's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point in your career, and the finish line is in sight. Here's the downside to all your accomplishments, though: you have more at risk than ever. If you should fail now, you'll essentially have wasted all the time, energy, and money you've devoted to getting here. The fact is, success isn't guaranteed, even at this point. Residents can and do make mistakes or, worse, find themselves accused of mistakes they didn't actually make. What do you do if you're one of them?

First, don't panic. You've made it this far. You're smart and capable, and you can defend yourself and your record. It won't be easy, though. Your hospital's disciplinary board isn't interested in excuses, and it will dismiss you from the program if it finds you unfit to be a doctor. Secondly, then, make sure you have a qualified attorney-advisor on your side, someone who understands how residency programs work and who has experience helping residents salvage their careers. You absolutely should stand up for yourself, but you should never try to do it alone.

Competency Issues

It's important you have a strong grasp of what's expected of you. This can help keep you out of trouble in the first place, but it's also essential for responding to any allegations against you.

Disciplinary boards evaluate residents in two important categories. First, they expect you, before you graduate, to demonstrate competency in the six categories set forth by the Accreditation Council for Medical Education (ACGME).

  • Patient Care: Patient care is at the heart of medicine. It's vital you know how to communicate effectively with patients and that you understand how to work with them to solve their medical issues.
  • Medical Knowledge: Obviously, you need to be an expert in the human body. This means knowing in a theoretical sense how it operates but also knowing in a practical sense how to treat it.
  • Practice-based Learning and Improvement: Physicians must be lifelong learners. You won't always have the advantage of supervisors looking over your shoulder and correcting your errors. You must know how to find information for yourself, how to master that information, and how to evaluate that mastery.
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills: In addition to working with patients, you'll be working with a whole host of other stakeholders in the medical system—colleagues, other medical professionals, administrators, pharmaceutical reps, and many others. It's vital, then, that you know how to communicate and work effectively with others.
  • Professionalism: Your practice as a physician must be firmly grounded in ethical principles, including the sanctity of human life and a commitment to serving your community.
  • Systems-based Practice: The practice of medicine happens within many interconnected and overlapping systems: the system made up of your hospital's policies, the insurance industry, the legal system, and many others. You need to know how systems generally work as well as how the most important systems in the medical profession operate.

Ethical, Professional, and Personal Behavior

Many residents are surprised to learn that medical residency programs hold them to higher professional standards than medical standards. The fact is, “doctor” is a position in the public trust. That means you must hold yourself above reproach. You aren't just expected to be a good doctor or to have a pleasant bedside manner. You're expected to conduct your personal life according to the highest values and ethics.

Of course, as you know from your medical school courses, ethics is a complex subject, and it's not always easy to know the right thing to do in a given situation. That said, the American Medical Association has established a national code of medical ethics to help doctors better understand their personal and professional obligations. That code offers some examples of behaviors you should avoid.

  • Drinking on the job
  • Stealing medications
  • Receiving a DUI or being convicted of physical assault
  • Committing sexual misconduct
  • Accepting bribes
  • Misusing social media
  • Sharing confidential patient information
  • Practicing medicine despite a conflict of interest
  • Discriminating against others
  • Failing to manage stress, leading to poor communication or medical mistakes

Facing the Disciplinary Board

Most residency programs handle disciplinary matters through their hospital's disciplinary board. This group is usually made up of seasoned doctors, though it may also include representatives from the hospital administration, support staff, and other residents in the program. The disciplinary board monitors your progress and has the power to discipline your behaviors. Typically sanctions include warnings, mandated training, reduced pay, and dismissal from the program.

Of course, dismissal is by far the worst of these punishments. However, you should never take any proposed sanction lightly. Even minor sanctions can have long-lasting consequences for your career. You should know, for example, that, in evaluating your application for license, the New Hampshire Medical Board will review all disciplinary actions taken against you by your residency program. Even a warning, then, could potentially derail your career.

It may not occur to you to contact an attorney if you're facing a charge. Most disciplinary boards, though, allow residents to retain counsel if they are under investigation. You should always take advantage of this right. You can count on the fact that board members will be experts in hospital policy and the law. In fact, the board will likely consult its own attorneys when preparing its care against you. More importantly, though, there's simply too much at stake for you to risk handling the situation all on your own.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in medical student and resident cases. Over the years, he's dealt with all types of charges, from accusations of negligence to allegations of sexual misconduct. Joseph D. Lento knows the law as it applies to medical residents. He also knows how hospitals function. He'll protect your rights and make sure you get the very best possible resolution to your case.

If you've been called before your disciplinary board, don't wait. The board is already preparing its case. You should be too. Contact the Lento Law Firm, today, at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.