What Actions Might the Board Take After Reviewing Reports of Investigation?
The Board might vote:
- To take no further action. If, in reviewing the complaint, response, and necessary medical records, the allegations do not rise to a violation of the Board’s statutes, the Board’s rules, or the AMA code of Ethics, the Board must dismiss the complaint.
- To issue a Letter of Concern. The law states: “The Board may issue a non-disciplinary confidential letter of concern to a licensee advising that while there is insufficient evidence to support a disciplinary action, the Board believes the physician should modify or eliminate certain practices, and that continuation of the activities which led to the information being submitted to the Board may result in action against the licensee’s license. This letter shall not be released to the public or any other licensing authority, except that the letter may be used as evidence in subsequent disciplinary proceedings by the Board.” (New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated 329:17, VII-a). In plain terms, this letter is not an actual disciplinary action, not public, not a fine, not a reprimand, but is a letter warning that a doctor’s practice is possibly a problem, and that he or she should modify those practices. No one (including you) except the doctor and the Board knows of this letter, and it is not posted on the Board’s website, nor made public to anyone who asks. It is not sent to the National Practitioners Data Bank. However, this warning is taken very seriously by doctors, and all letters of concern remain in the doctor’s file at the Board of Medicine.
- To take public disciplinary action. The Board then directs its lawyers (Hearing Counsel) to draft a Notice of Hearing which the Board then publicly issues. After holding a hearing, the Board makes a finding of whether the licensee violated a statute or rule. If so, the Board may impose disciplinary action. Disciplinary action may consist of a reprimand, suspension or revocation of license, fine, remedial education, or any one or more of the other actions available to it by law. At any time during this process, the doctor may negotiate a public settlement agreement with the Board’s Hearing Counsel, but all settlement agreements must be brought before the Board for approval before they become final.