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MN physician disciplined for handling of deceased patient, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the recent disciplinary action taken against taken against a Minnesota doctor for his treatment of a patient that committed suicide after being released from group home care. As we noted, the doctor agreed with the state medical board to complete various requirements before his license—placed on conditional status—could be restored.

Among these conditions are that the physician is required to read material discussing pain control policy, as well as a clinical guide for prescribing opioids responsibly. He is also required to complete coursework on chronic pain management and chemical dependency awareness.

The stipulation also requires the physician, at the end of the educational process, to write a paper identifying what he learned, how he would have handled the deceased patient’s case differently, and what he will do to incorporate this new knowledge into his practice moving forward in his care for other patients.

Stipulations such as the one in this case are not uncommonly used in the physician discipline process. In any stipulation and consent order, all parties have to work in cooperation to agree on the appropriate corrective action for the physician. A range of disciplinary actions can be imposed in connection with these orders, and it is important for physicians to have an advocate at their side to ensure their interests are being addressed in any such agreement. This is especially important when the stipulation agreement is made public, since this can obviously impact a physician’s practice in a more significant way.