Medical Licensing Boards and the ADA

September 2nd, 2014 by haber Leave a reply »

Medical Licensing Boards are subject to the ADA and must respect its reach, either way…says fmr. Assist US Atty./Sr. Atty. OIG Kenneth Haber

The law is clear. Medical Licensing Boards, as with all state agencies, are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when a physician with a disability seeks a reasonable accommodation or when he is being regarded as disabled when he is not. Most people think about that as a reasonable opportunity to take a test or some other situation with limited functionality for a life practice. That is far from the case. The ADA impacts many aspects of licensure. It protects those with not only physical disabilities but also those with psychological, emotional or mental issues; however, they present. It protects those who are treated that way but are not.

What most people do not realize is that the ADA applies to physicians with addictions. Medical licensing boards cannot under the ADA treat physicians who have controlled their addictions the same as if the addiction controls the physician. To treat a physician who has been able to manage his or her addiction the same as a physician whose addiction controls him or her is a violation of federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If a physician can establish that he has and continues to successfully overcome a mental health issue, it becomes much more difficult for a licensing board to lift his license. Under the law, the physician, who has and is successfully overcoming such problems, is eligible for protection under the ADA which makes it a violation to “regard as” disabled an individual who has gotten passed and is getting past such a disability. The same law applies for any “psych” related disability. This ranges from bipolar to depression to obsessive compulsive to Schizophrenia spectrum and all conditions in between that are capability of adversely affecting a physician and is, on an individual basis, being appropriately managed.

What is more, conditions that are used to attempt to destroy a physician can actually become his salvation. When a hospital seeks to discharge a physician from its medical staff, he is often labeled as a disruptive. It might be that he is unwilling to accept nonsense in the OR or he has affronted someone who is powerful. It could be that he has competed with the wrong powerful economic group. The “disruptive physician”, after he has been stripped of his privileges, is then reported to his licensing boards. If he has been “regarded” as disabled, when he is not, then the ADA can come into play. The time has passed when physicians can be improperly labeled and discarded. The sooner that the ADA is put into play, the more effective it can be used, assuming a basis exists.

If you have such a disability and desire a chance to overcome it, you can plan a strategy that will possibly permit you to do so. If you have been or are being discriminated against, either way, you may be able to plan a strategy to overcome those who are discriminating against you. Mr. Haber is a former Assistant United States Attorney [1971-1979 E.D. MI]; a former Senior Attorney, Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services [1979-1983]; and a former PSA of the Bureau. He found his firm in 1984 and he makes available his, rather unique, skill set available to you. Call for a no obligation, initial consultation [301-670-0016].


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