Medical Residents work long hours, and deal with one of the most stressful jobs in the healthcare field. Mistakes can happen, and a resident can find him/herself on the wrong side of a disciplinary action, with the devastating prospect that their residency could be in jeopardy. Reprimands, probation, suspension, non-renewal, or termination from the residency program can end a medical career before it even gets started.
Typically, the steps involved in medical resident discipline include one or all of the following: verbal warnings, written warnings, probation, suspension, and termination. However, depending on the circumstances of the medical resident and his/her misconduct or other inappropriate action, the residency program may choose any of the described disciplinary actions for a single infraction including immediate termination from the training program without first providing the resident lesser disciplinary actions.
For many medical residents, being faced with a disciplinary action can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience. Medical residents are not trained advocates. They may be familiar with the facts bearing on proposed disciplinary actions, but they lack the critical understanding of how to present those facts clearly and persuasively, question opposing witnesses, and argue legal issues. The reality is that, in most cases, there is an imbalance in relevant experience among the non-lawyer participants in the medical resident disciplinary process. School representatives, such as deans and program directors who speak at hearings on behalf of the school usually have done so before. By contrast, the medical resident is usually a complete novice in such matters. This imbalance is grossly unfair and undermines the integrity of the process.
Disciplinary actions, as opposed to academic decisions, must be the result of a careful, deliberate, “reasonable decision-making process.” The deliberations must be conscientious, rational and fair. They cannot be arbitrary or capricious. Any negative findings resulting in potential disciplinary actions must be clearly communicated to the medical resident. There must be a chance and process for the medical resident to address deficiencies, and an “opportunity to cure” the perceived failures. In other words, there must be a semblance of due process.
Medical residents are not able to adequately defend themselves against proposed disciplinary actions if they don’t know what the charges are, or have an opportunity to acquire meaningfully review, or to present exculpatory evidence. Further, without an attorney with experience in representing medical residents, who can actively participate in a hearing, medical residents may miss critical opportunities to respond to evidence, challenge testimony, and present an adequate defense.
Enlisting the services of a competent experienced in representing medical residents in disciplinary actions is a wise decision for any medical resident facing discipline. The attorney’s understanding and experience with residency disciplinary actions will enable the resident to prepare a strong defense. Concierge Healthcare Attorneys, LLC has years of experience as General/Senior Counsel of academic healthcare systems in redressing medical resident discipline. Our law firm knows just what you need for a successful outcome for your case.
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