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Do medical practitioners have the right to remain silent?

On Behalf of | Aug 6, 2021 | blog, Medical Licensing

As someone with a license to practice medicine in the state of Pennsylvania, you are accountable to the State Board of Medicine. If somebody alleges that you have committed unethical or negligent behavior, the board will likely call upon the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation to investigate your case. The BEI will then send investigators to contact you about the matter.

Many people know that in criminal cases they have the right to remain silent when arrested or questioned by police. It is important to know that if the BEI or another board wants to interview you about allegations of misconduct, you may also remain silent.

Handling a BEI investigation

Board investigators examine a case by gathering different kinds of evidence. They look at documents relevant to the case. They also conduct interviews with people that you have interacted with. At some point, investigators may approach you directly to ask for an interview concerning your case.

At this moment, you can choose to remain silent and ask to have an attorney present. In fact, you do not have to permit board investigators into your residence. Like a criminal case, a board investigator can use whatever you say against you. Admitting anything will likely cause great harm to you later on. The investigator may also take note of anything in your home that appears incriminating.

Reporting an arrest

Some medical professionals end up under arrest without a state licensing board knowing about it. As the Cornell Law School points out, you may assert your Miranda rights and have an attorney present during questioning. However, you might have to report the fact of your arrest to the licensing board, perhaps at the time you renew your license.

It is possible that reporting an arrest could cause the board to open an investigation against you or result in disciplinary action. While this may not be a desirable outcome, trying to hide your arrest may generate disciplinary action against you. It may benefit you to know what information to disclose and when to refrain from comments that could incriminate you when facing an investigation.