June 13, 2012


I generally like the idea of strengthening the criteria for appointment to include such things as board certification, no exclusion from Medicare, and no felony or misdemeanor convictions.  But what happens to the person who made a mistake in the past?  Will he, or she, be forever banned from practicing at a top-notch hospital?


This was a question we received at a recent on-site educational program.  It was asked by a physician leader who was also a distraught mom.  Her son had been convicted of a DUI following a party celebrating completion of his first year of internship training.  When the son applied for a license, based on the DUI, the state board gave the new young doctor a probationary license.

The mom’s worry was palpable.  She wanted to know if this single mistake would forever change her son’s life.

The answer is probably “yes” and “no.”  In all likelihood, the young doctor is going to have to disclose the DUI and the probationary license on future applications for appointment, employment, managed care participation, and licensure.  It is best to be forthcoming.  Mistakes will often be forgiven, but no one will be anxious to forgive a physician who misrepresented or omitted uncomfortable facts on an application.  That quickly becomes an issue of integrity, and integrity, especially for physicians, is nonnegotiable.