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You’ve made a mistake. Could you lose your medical license?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | Professional License Defense

In the high-stakes field of medicine, the consequences of a mistake can be significant, not only when it comes to patient safety but also for the professional standing of any individual healthcare provider. 

In California, medical professionals often worry about the potential of losing their license if they make a mistake. Understanding the disciplinary process and the factors that influence whether a mistake could lead to license revocation can help providers make informed decisions about their unique circumstances. 

It’s possible, but not probable

When a medical error occurs, it does not automatically mean that a healthcare provider will lose their medical license. The California Medical Board (CMB) is responsible for the licensing and regulation of medical doctors and takes a structured approach to handling complaints and reports of misconduct. The primary aim of the Board is to protect public health and safety, not to punish practitioners unnecessarily.

With that said, the likelihood of facing severe disciplinary consequences, such as license revocation, in the wake of making a mistake that has led to patient harm depends significantly on the nature and severity of the mistake. Minor errors that should have been prevented are often managed via less severe repercussions, such as warnings or mandated training courses. By contrast, serious infractions that result in significant harm to patients or that demonstrate gross negligence or intentional misconduct are more likely to result in harsher penalties, including suspension or revocation of one’s license.

If a complaint is filed or a mistake is reported, the CMB will conduct a thorough investigation. This process typically involves gathering all relevant information, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing the healthcare provider’s past record. Medical practitioners are allowed to respond to the allegations during this process.

As medical professionals have the right to due process in the event of a licensing concern, it is generally advisable for those whose actions are being scrutinized to seek legal guidance as proactively as possible. Building a strong case can mitigate the risk of incurring a negative outcome.