Reinstatement of a California Medical License

The Medical Board of California has a form entitled Petition for Penalty Relief, which is used for three purposes:

(1)   Petition for reinstatement of a revoked or surrendered medical license;

(2)   Petition for early termination of probation; and

(3)   Petition for modification of probation terms.

The simplicity of the form is misleading in light of the complexity of the process, which can take one year and always requires a formal administrative hearing.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility and the Waiting Period

For a physician who has been convicted of a crime, eligibility requires completion of the sentence, including termination of parole or court-ordered probation.  Pending disciplinary action also makes a doctor ineligible for penalty relief.

The next step is determining when a petition for reinstatement (or termination of probation) can be filed, which is governed by Business & Professions Code section 2307.

As shown in the table below, the waiting period is either one, two or three years from the effective date of the disciplinary order.

Minimum Waiting Period Type of Petition for Penalty Relief
3 Years Reinstatement after discipline based on unprofessional conduct
2 Years Early termination of probation of three years or more
1 Year Modification of a condition of probation
Termination of probation of less than three years
Reinstatement after discipline based on mental or physical impairment

Step 2: Prepare and File the Petition

The Medical Board requires submission of its form entitled Petition for Penalty Relief.  The three-page form is straightforward, and the following documents must be attached:

  • A narrative statement explaining the events leading to the disciplinary action and rehabilitation, and the reasons for the petition. In petitions for reinstatement, the narrative statement must explain the following: (1) what the doctor has been doing and how he or she has earned a living since the license revocation or surrender; (2) how rehabilitation will prevent recurrence of the conduct leading to discipline; and (3) the details of practice plans upon reinstatement,
  • Two letters of recommendation from physicians, licensed in any state, who have personal knowledge of the activities of the doctor since the imposition of discipline.  (Bus. & Prof. Code § 2307 (c).); and,
  • A curriculum vitae or resume.

CA administrative law attorneys recommend, in addition to the required documentation, that applicants provide additional information such as documents showing: 

  • Board certification, CME or special training;
  • Proof of completion of criminal probation, drug/alcohol programs, etc.; and,
  • Correction of practices that led to disciplinary action such as revised forms for patient charting or improved office policies related to billing.

Step 3: The Investigation

The Medical Board will forward the petition application to an investigator for verification.  The Medical Board’s investigator will telephone the physicians who wrote recommendation letters and conduct a brief interview of the applying physician to verify the narrative statement.  These interviews are often conducted at the closest district office of the Medical Board.  For out-of-state applicants, the interview will be conducted by telephone.

Step 4: Administrative Hearing

The Medical Board does not settle petitions for penalty relief, which means that every case proceeds to an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge in Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles or San Diego.  The hearings are not held before the members or staff of the Medical Board itself.  In fact, it would be rare for any representative of the Medical Board to be present--except for its counsel, a Deputy Attorney General.

At an average hearing, the Medical Board’s attorney presents the original Accusation and disciplinary decision or stipulation and the petition for penalty relief as evidence.  The applicant seeking license reinstatement or termination of probation should present witness testimony, whenever possible.  Sometimes the Office of Administrative Hearings will grant advance permission for out-of-state or distant witnesses to testify by telephone conference.  If there are new documents since the petition was filed, such as a court record showing expungement of a criminal conviction, these documents should also be offered at hearing. Of the course, the most important witness is always the doctor applying for penalty relief.  The testimony of the doctor should be focused on rehabilitation so the Medical Board can feel confident that reinstating the medical license or terminating probation will not threaten public safety.

CA administrative law attorneys at Slote & Links defend physicians in Medical License cases before the California Medical Board

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