SIMPLE LOGIC CAN HAVE COMPLICATED – AND UNFAIR – RESULTS
State medical boards exercise two main regulatory functions, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services article explains:
- Licensure – checking for educational attainment and knowledge on the part of a physician
- Discipline – overseeing physicians in actual practice, investigating complaints, and suspending or revoking licenses where needed.
The authors call it “the simple logic of public protection”, involving two steps and two hoped-for results:
Steps: A. Identify problem practitioners B. Restrict their practice or remove them from practice.
Desired results: A. Patients are protected B. Deterrence of other offenders:
Today’s Indiana State Board of Medical Registration and Examination is comprised of seven members, all of whom are appointed by the Governor. Five are physicians, one an osteopath, one a consumer.
The process is far from simple, and the results can be devastating for a medical practitioner: Disciplinary actions might include, seak.com explains:
- A reprimand
- Restrictions on a physician’s practice
- Mandatory continuing medical education or monitoring requirements
- License suspension or revocation
Like Ramey & Hailey Law, many personal injury law firms represent patients who have suffered due to medical malpractice. Fewer firms, however, are experienced in the representation of physicians. We have learned over the decades that physicians can be sued for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with their practice, including nonpayment of taxes or child support, even for charging unreasonable fees or being quick to display anger. We realize that, while disciplinary measures against doctors are designed to protect the public, physicians and nurses themselves are often in need of protection.
In today’s complex and litigious society, our attorneys are increasingly being called upon to help medical professionals deal with the emotional and financial damages they suffer when their careers are unfairly threatened. Unfair how? State medical boards? Good intentions, but often overly burdened and underfunded. In fact, the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics lists several ways in which the discipline of a physician has been proven to have been unfair:
- the board did not follow proper due process in its proceedings
- the physician was not treated like others in a similar situation
- the physician is being punished twice for the same infraction
- the ruling board is not competent in that field of practice
Medical practitioners can lose their licenses based on very little proof, inadequate due process,
and procedural errors. Meanwhile, a notice from a state medical board can be even more threatening to a healthcare professional than a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Sometimes, simple logic can have complicated – and unfair – results for medical practitioners!