Understanding and Avoiding Medical Board Disciplinary Actions

State medical boards regulate the activities of more than one million health care professionals in the United States. Although their duties include licensing and ongoing registration, their ultimate goal is to protect the public from harm and enhance the quality of medical practice. State medical boards also have the responsibility of determining when a physician’s professional conduct or ability to practice medicine warrants modification, suspension or revocation of their license. 

How Medical Boards Handle Complaints Against Physicians

When a state medical board receives a complaint about a physician from a patient, state medical board, health professional, government agency or health care organization, a review and investigation is opened. If the investigation proves the physician acted incompetently or unprofessionally, the board will take appropriate action against the physician’s license. This may involve holding hearings and imposing discipline, including suspension, probation or revocation of the physician’s license, public reprimands and fines. While medical boards do find it necessary to suspend or revoke licenses when appropriate, some problems can be resolved with additional education or training in appropriate areas. In these cases, the board may place restrictions on a physician’s license or put a physician on probation to protect the public while the physician receives special training or rehabilitation aimed at an existing issue.

Understanding Unprofessional Conduct and Board-Action Categories

State medical boards define the following actions as unprofessional conduct:

  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Neglect of a patient
  • Failing to meet a state’s accepted standard of care
  • Prescribing drugs in excess or without legitimate reason
  • Dishonesty during the license application process
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Fraud
  • Inadequate record keeping
  • Failing to meet continuing medical education requirements. 

Depending on the extent of a physician’s actions, state medical boards may exercise any of the following board-action categories:

  • Administrative action
  • Fines
  • CME required
  • Conditions imposed
  • License denied
  • License restricted
  • License revoked
  • License surrendered 
  • License suspended
  • Probation
  • Reprimand 

Keep in mind that the differences between a disciplinary action taken by a medical board and a malpractice judgment or settlement against a physician are significant. 

How State Medical Boards Share Information About Disciplined Physicians

All state medical boards engage in an ongoing, cooperative effort to share licensure and disciplinary information with one another by regularly contributing data to the FSMB’s Physician Data Center (PDC). The PDC collects, maintains and reports on an ongoing basis all the disciplinary actions taken against physicians. It is updated continuously and includes disciplinary actions taken by state medical boards as well as actions taken by other entities. 

How the FSMB Uses National Disciplinary Information to Assist State Medical Boards

The FSMB provides services that draw upon its repository of data on disciplinary actions to bolster state board efforts to protect the public. One of the key services is the FSMB Disciplinary Alert Service (DAS), which alerts state boards when one of their physicians receives disciplinary action in another state. Many physicians, including those who have been disciplined, hold licenses in more than one state. Medical boards voluntarily share licensee data with the PDC to prevent them from changing jurisdictions undetected. This information enables the DAS to proactively notify boards within 24 hours when one of their licensees has been disciplined in another state or territory. 

How MLG Assists Physicians with Blemished Records

MLG is an excellent resource for physicians who believe they may be likely to experience medical licensing delays or denials due to prior disciplinary actions. As our client, you will be paired with one of our experienced licensing specialists. They can answer any questions you may have and be available to you throughout your entire licensing process. Considering the intricacies of each state’s medical licensing requirements and how arduous and time consuming most applications are to complete, it makes perfect sense to engage an experienced medical licensing service. To learn more about our services, contact us today at 850-433-4600.