What Does a Public Disciplinary Hearing or Settlement Mean and What is Involved?
- The Board votes to initiate an adjudicatory proceeding if it believes, based on the MRSC Report of Investigation, that professional misconduct or a violation of the Board’s statutes, rules or the AMA code of Ethics may have occurred. Pursuant to this vote, the Board’s Hearing Counsel will present a draft Notice of Hearing to the Board. The Board then votes on issuing the draft Notice of Hearing. At that point the matter becomes public.
- At the Board’s meeting, on the dates specified in the Notice of Hearing, a hearing is held to determine facts of the case. There are usually two sides to the hearing: the Board’s Hearing Counsel presents evidence and witnesses to prove the charges; the licensee may present evidence and witnesses to disprove them. It is a fair hearing: the licensee has notice of the charges against which he/she is defending, the licensee has the opportunity to respond, present evidence, cross-examine witnesses and submit arguments before the Board.
- After a hearing, the Board deliberates in non-public session. The Board’s decision does not become final or public until it is reduced to writing and served upon the parties. The Board may find that Hearing Counsel has not proved its case by a preponderance of the evidence or the Board may make an affirmative finding that the licensee has committed unprofessional conduct or a violation of its statutes, rules or the AMA Code of Ethics. If the Board finds the latter, it may impose disciplinary action. Disciplinary action may be anything listed in RSA 329:17, VII, including the following: a reprimand, a fine, a suspension of license, a revocation, a requirement for remedial education, or any combination of the above.
- If the physician wishes to avoid a public hearing and settle the complaint, he/she may sign a settlement agreement that is negotiated with the Board’s Hearing Counsel and may include any of the items listed in RSA 329:17, VII. This settlement agreement is then presented to the Board to accept or reject. If the Board accepts it, the settlement agreement becomes public.