Arizona Medical Board Formal Interview
Who can file a complaint against a physician? Patients, health care facilities, other professionals, among others. When the Arizona Medical Board receives a complaint, the Board initiates an investigation into the complaint (if the Board has jurisdiction and the Complaint isn’t dismissed). After this happens, the physician receives notice and the board assigns an investigator to the case. Please note, having an attorney during this step can be crucial for physicians as they must submit a response, interview with the investigator while also possibly appearing at a Arizona Medical Board.
Arizona Revised Statute 32-1451(H) states that if after completing its investigation the Arizona Medical Board believes that the allegations contained in the Complaint are true or possibly could be true, it may request a formal interview with the doctor. If the doctor refuses the invitation for a formal interview, the Board will move forward without the physician and if they find that grounds may exist for revocation or suspension of the doctor’s license for more than twelve months, the board will issue a formal complaint and order that a hearing be held before the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings.
Formal Interview and Disciplinary Action
If after completing a formal interview the Arizona Medical Board finds that the protection of the public requires emergency action, it may order a summary suspension of the license pending formal revocation proceedings.
If after completing the formal interview the board finds the result of the investigation is not of sufficient seriousness to merit suspension for more than twelve months or revocation of the license, it may take the following actions:
- Dismiss if the Board finds the complaint is without merit.
- Require the licensee to complete designated continuing medical education courses.
- File an advisory letter. The licensee may file a written response with the board within thirty days after the licensee receives the advisory letter.
- Enter into an agreement with the doctor to restrict or limit the doctor’s practice or professional activities or to rehabilitate, retrain or assess the doctor in order to protect the public and ensure the doctor’s ability to safely engage in the practice of medicine. The board may also require the doctor to successfully complete a board approved rehabilitative, retraining or assessment program at the doctor’s own expense.
- File a letter of reprimand.
- Issue a decree of censure. A decree of censure is an official action against the doctor’s license and may include a requirement for restitution of fees to a patient resulting from violations.
- Fix a period and terms of probation best adapted to protect the public health and safety and rehabilitate or educate the doctor concerned. Probation may include temporary suspension for not to exceed twelve months, restriction of the doctor’s license to practice medicine, a requirement for restitution of fees to a patient or education or rehabilitation at the licensee’s own expense. If a licensee fails to comply with the terms of probation, the board shall serve the licensee with a written notice that states that the licensee is subject to a formal hearing based on the information considered by the board at the formal interview or noncompliance with the terms of probation, a consent agreement or a stipulated agreement. A licensee shall pay the costs associated with probation monitoring each year during which the licensee is on probation. The board may adjust this amount on an annual basis. The board may allow a licensee to make payments on an installment plan if a financial hardship occurs.
Physician Health Program (PHP)
In lieu of disciplinary action the Arizona Medical Board may allow a physician to enter various PHP agreements which handles the post-treatment monitoring, education and intervention of allopathic physicians who suffer from substance abuse or dependence, medical, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health disorders that affect their ability to safely practice. Types of PHP Agreements:
- Stipulated Health Agreement: A confidential, non-public monitoring agreement for psychological, psychiatric, behavioral or physical health problems. This can last anywhere from six months to five years or more.
- Stipulated Rehabilitation Agreement: A confidential, non-public monitoring agreement for substance abuse which can last from 6 months to 5 years or more.
- Interim Consent Agreement for Practice Restriction: A disciplinary, public, reportable action that restricts the practice of a physician with substance abuse disorder that has led to unsafe practice.
- Interim Consent Agreement for Practice Limitation: A non-disciplinary, public, reportable action that limits the practice of a physician suffering from health reasons that has led to unsafe practice.
- Probation to Participate in the PHP: Requires a physician to remain in compliance with PHP monitoring recommendations.
Medical License Administrative Appeal and Hearing
Any licensee may request an appeal of an Arizona Medical Board disciplinary action to an administrative law judge with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). In some instances, a case is sent automatically to hearing. The administrative hearing is conducted by OAH before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearing is not as formal as a trial, but is similar. Each party presents evidence using documents or sworn testimony. Each party also gives an opening and closing argument, which should explain why the judge should rule one way or the other. A physician’s attorney can cross examine witnesses and testify on his or her behalf. After the hearing, the ALJ reviews the transcripts, evidence and makes a recommendation. However, the Board makes the decision to either accept, reject or modify the ALJ’s decision. If n individuals feels there has been a mistake they can request a rehearing.