As a medical student, the first interaction with medical boards can be daunting. The state-based board co-sponsors medical licensing examinations and ultimately give physician hopefuls the go-ahead to begin their practice. While exams and licenses might be the only interactions perspective physicians have with the board, they are far from the last. Medical boards exist to ensure the safety and integrity of healthcare professionals while also ensuring that the public is properly served and cared for. In addition to exams and licenses, the board completes evaluations, research complaints, and ultimately carry out disciplinary courses of action. These actions are a spectrum that ranges from less serious actions, such as a letter of reprimand, to career-ending actions, such as revocation of a license.
Most Frequent Disciplinary Actions Taken This Year*
This past year, the medical board spent their meetings dishing out nearly 9,000 disciplinary actions to practicing physicians across the nation. The following list covers the top five actions taken by boards
1.) License Restricted
This action puts a limit on the parameters of a physician’s practice. In many cases, a physician can still practice, but there are requirements that must be fulfilled in order to do so. Some examples of this might be a geographic restriction in which a practitioner can no longer practice in a certain state or, a substance abuse restriction in which a physician must be monitored and complete a diversion program to practice.
The least serious of the disciplinary actions, a reprimand can take on different written forms and may be either private or public. They are used as a warning often for minor violations.
3.) Administrative Action
Administrative Action is one step up from being reprimanded. It entails criticism of behavior and subsequent action to correct this behavior. An example of this would be cases that deal with billing errors that are then corrected through a refund
4.) Monetary Fine
Monetary fines are often used in conjunction with other disciplinary measures. Fines are expensive to deter offending practitioners from repeating their mistakes.
5.) Conditions Imposed
This applies to a wide range of situations in which a practitioner must meet the requirements by the board in order to continue practicing. If the individual does not meet the conditions further action may be taken.
*This section is based on information compiled during 2017 and released in 2018. Click here to view the collected data.
Avoiding Disciplinary Action
The key to avoiding disciplinary action is to be well-read on Medical Staff Rules and Regulations at respective workplaces and well versed in the Code of Medical Ethics. Both these tools provide practitioners knowledge of what is expected of them in their professional position. In addition, they provide an outline of actions that are frowned upon in medical communities. In addition to knowing the material in these documents, it is essential to put them into practice. Not doing so can lead to complaints. When sent to the medical board, these require an investigation and can lead to disciplinary action. When complaints arise it is important to hire a lawyer immediately following notice of the complaint.
Despite the wide range of disciplinary action and possible missteps, attention to detail and knowledge of Medical Staff Rules in addition to the Code of Medical Ethics can ensure that such actions are avoided.
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