Instead of one, I think there’s probably a group of most common complaints, and we’ll go through those. The first one is clinical issues. Suppose there’s a deviation from the standard of care. In that case, Any of the following could send that complaint to the board: the employer, a colleague, the patient, and a patient’s family member. All those people could then file a complaint with the medical board alleging a clinical concern. Most boards have criminal reporting requirements. Some boards require a reported charge from a physician. In contrast, other boards require the physician to report a conviction. Still, a complaint can start from any criminal conduct by the physician.
Common-Place: Behavioral Medical Board Complaints
Another way would be behavioral concerns. If there was some fight amongst the med staff or the likes at the hospital. Maybe the physician was removed from the med staff or revoked other privileges. Suppose it’s just some kind of butting heads that continues to happen consistently. In that case, it’s not uncommon for an organization to report the physician for behavioral concerns. In that case, normally, most boards will then require the physician to get a psychological evaluation to rule out any, I guess, larger issues. And then, the recommendations from that psychologist or psychiatrist and in most medical boards would be incorporated and discussed at the board meeting. Substance abuse issues are another huge reason for a medical board complaint to be open.
The employer will normally file a complaint if a physician is impaired at work. It could be, once again, a patient, a family member, or a colleague. Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, prescription drug, or if the physician has strange prescriptive practices. Most states have a database that lists all the physicians who prescribe scheduled drugs. And, prescribing to yourself, which does happen, or a close family member, which does happen, is a huge red flag.
Medical Board Database Flagging
Suppose they were to run a database query and see that the physician was prescribing to a family member or himself. That would raise red flags, and someone would issue a complaint against the physician. In my mind, I break it into two main groups.
You’ve got the clinical side and the behavioral side. As I said, the clinical staff is, did something go wrong? Clinically, was there a deviation from standard care? Maybe a peer review initiated, something like that. And then the second one in the behavioral category. It’s all the other things I listed, like substance abuse and clashes at work. I guess boundary violations are another big one. If there’s a sexual relationship between a doctor and a patient, that can cause concern for any board. Most boards will list when/if a physician can start a relationship with the patient. But as you know, if a physician starts a romantic relationship with a patient. Most of the time, it doesn’t end well. And now, with technology and text messages, social media, and direct messages. There’s almost always a record between the physician and the patient regarding their relationship.
And it’s difficult to defend when it’s in black and white writing. So, those are the most common reasons a physician could file a complaint with the medical board. It ranges, but I know when I speak to most people. They always associate it with clinical issues, which goes well beyond that.
Can a Nurse Continue to Work while Under Investigation with the Arizona Nursing Board?
Yes, a licensed nurse in Arizona can continue to work under investigation by the Arizona Board of Nursing. If an employer were to verify an Arizona nurse on NURSYS (the national database verifying nurse licensure), the license would show that the nurse is currently under investigation. The only time a nurse’s license would indicate an investigation would be if the Arizona Nursing Board formally disciplined the nurse.
What is NURSYS?
NURSYS is the only national database verifying nurse licensure, discipline, and practice privileges for RNs and LPN/VNs licensed in participating boards of nursing. Including all states in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Under current laws, nurses cannot remove past discipline from NURSYS. In 2018, the Board moved license verification from the Board’s website to NURSYS. Previous Board policy removed all disciplinary actions from a nurse’s record after five years.
Nurse Disciplinary Actions
Examples of formal discipline from the Board include:
- Voluntary Surrender
- Decree Of Censure
- Civil Penalty
Investigation and Complaint into Practice Concerns
So, Does the Arizona Nursing Board Investigate Every Complaint? Nearly every complaint filed with the Arizona Board of Nursing is thoroughly investigated. Generally, if the allegations contained in a complaint, if proven true, would violate the Arizona Nurse Practice Act. The board would investigate. There are two scenarios where the Board does not investigate a complaint:
- The Board lacks jurisdiction over the target of the complaint.
- The allegation contained in the complaint would not be a violation of the Nurse Practice Act.
Medical Board Complaint
After receiving a complaint or self-report, a nurse gets an Investigative Questionnaire and notice from the Board. They are requesting additional information and a response to allegations found in the complaint. From here, the AZBON assigns an investigator to the complaint and begins collecting evidence. The documents and evidence collected include:
- Patient medical records
- Employment files from the nurse’s employer and business
- Criminal records
- Interviews of people associated with the Board Complaint or nursing program. (These interviewees can include the patient, nursing director, colleagues, etc.)
When a nurse receives a Board of Nursing Investigation Notice, it’s crucial for them. To understand the process and how an attorney can help. When the Board of Nursing receives a complaint against a nurse, they will investigate the problem. This allows them to fully determine whether or not they need to discipline the practicing nurse. Depending on the results of the investigation, the Board can suspend, limit or revoke the nurse’s license or certificate.
How Long Does Investigation on Physicians Last?
A current investigation with the Arizona Board of Nursing is taking (on average) around 18 months from beginning to end. However, the speed with which an investigation is completed depends upon the case’s severity. When assigned to an investigator, each case is given a priority level. Higher priority level cases are generally completed faster than lower priority cases. Some cases are so severe that the Board can attempt to suspend a nurse’s license. Some examples of low-priority cases would include:
- Low-level criminal charges
- Patient complaints
- Documentation errors
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Nursing Board Complaint services and how to protect your rights. Set up a consultation with Chelle Law. Our Arizona Nursing Attorney, and reach out to us today.
Other Blogs of Interest
- Arizona Medical Board Complaint Lawyer: Our Arizona Attorney Provides License Defense
- How Long Does an Arizona Medical Board Investigation Take?
Can You Sue Someone for Filing a False Complaint With the Arizona Medical Board?
Hi, my name is Robert Chelle with Chelle Law. My firm represents physicians before the Arizona medical board and the osteopathic board. We’ve been representing healthcare providers in Arizona for over a decade now. And one thing that comes up semi-frequently is the question. Can you sue someone for filing a false board complaint in Arizona? Pretty simple question. The answer is yes, but there are some caveats we will go over right now. Every board has a statute. They’re in the Arizona revised statutes, which lay the groundwork for what the board can and can’t do. In the statute for the Arizona medical board, there’s a section. I’m going to read it, which says any person or entity that reports or provides information to the board in good faith. That person is not subject to an action for civil damages.
Arizona Medical Board
In summary, anyone who files a board complaint in good faith can’t be sued for civil damages. The most important part of that section is good faith. What is good faith? This means if someone honestly believes that the physician committed misconduct, did something illegal, or violated the statute. They’re immune from civil damages. The only way that a physician could sue someone for filing a board complaint is if it was false and in bad faith. People can file a good faith complaint with bad intentions. You could have a patient who wants to stick it to the doctor, a competitor physician who’s doing the same, or an employer who is somehow upset about their relationship terminating.
Licensing Board Complaint
If any of those people filed a good faith argument, they believed that whatever the physician did could violate the statute. They’d be immune from a civil lawsuit. If you sue the person, you must prove they acted in bad faith. They knew that what they were alleging was false. Potentially they made up falsehoods and used that as a basis for a complaint. There was a case in the mid-two thousand. That kind of worked its way up to the court of appeals in Arizona. And basically, it was one physician who filed a board complaint against a competitor physician. They’re in the same specialty, fighting for patients in the same area, and alleged some things. And the physician who had the complaint. Filed against him and filed a lawsuit against the other doctor. They stated that the other party did not submit the complaint in good faith.
Are There Any Mistakes Physicians Make?
And therefore, he suffered some damage. I’m just going to read what the counts of that lawsuit are. Right? Some counts for the lawsuit are:
- The alleged defamation
- False light invasion of privacy
- Wrongful institution
- Maintenance of an administrative proceeding
- Intentional interference with prospective contractual to business relationships
- Injurious falsehood
What the court held, though, was the first count. Was the complaint filed in good faith or not? And the court said, yes, it was. They’re saying even if some of the things alleged by the person who filed the complaint were untrue. They believed they were true. They made at least a minimum amount of verification of the facts. And therefore, the other party filed the complaint in good faith. And so the physician who filed the complaint against him couldn’t recover any damages.
We have a case currently with the Arizona medical board. We’re representing a client. I won’t get into the details of it. However, I can give broad strokes. In this case, a patient alleged that our client gave them on a certain date, a specific procedure. Then, there was a negative outcome during the procedure, after a review of the medical records. Our client never saw the patient on the alleged date. Never even provided the procedure alleged by the patient. And then, obviously, the bad outcome didn’t occur either. So, did that person file a complaint in bad faith? Well, we believe, yes. As I stated before, when looking at whether a complaint is filed in good or bad faith. Do you need to look at whether the person who filed the complaint attempted to verify any of the information?
Medical Board Complaints
In this case, obviously, no. What could someone do to verify the information? They could call the office and verify when they saw the physician. Request the medical records, review those, and talk to the people involved. A minimum base amount of effort needs to be given to verify allegations. And if the complainant, the person who files a complaint, doesn’t do any of that. Then that certainly allows whoever had the complaint filed against them to argue that it was filed in bad faith.
This is a fairly nuanced topic. In summary, can you sue someone for filing a false board complaint in Arizona? The answer is yes, you can, under certain circumstances. But it’s an interesting topic to discuss. As I stated, my firm Chelle Law represents physicians before the Arizona medical board and osteopath boards. If you have any questions, we’re certainly happy to answer them. Just give us a call, the number is listed below in the description, or you can visit us on our website, Chelle law.com, C H E L L E law.com. Hopefully, this is informative. Please comment if you have suggestions for other topics you want me to discuss. I’ll be happy to do that. So anyway, thanks for listening, and take care.
Types of Arizona Medical Board Practice Restrictions | Licenses and Rules
What practice restrictions can the Arizona Medical Board impose on a physician? What are some common types of practice restrictions? And how can we assist you if you find yourself in a situation where the Arizona medical board asks you to sign a practice restriction?
Interim Practice Restriction
When a physician is under investigation by the Arizona medical board, the Arizona medical board may reach out to the physician and ask them to sign an interim practice restriction. And essentially, that means they want to restrict all or part of the physician’s practice during the investigation into the allegations of unprofessional conduct.
In other words, depending on the nature and severity of allegations and the number of complaints that may be before the board. Board staff may feel it’s appropriate to limit or fully restrict the physician’s practice of medicine. At the same time, they determine whether there is any veracity to the allegations that have been made. So, a practice restriction is commonly done during the investigation before the board can thoroughly investigate and bring the case to a complete resolution. This is why it’s called an interim practice restriction. And again, the temporary practice restrictions can vary.
What Happens to a Physician Under State Restriction?
We sometimes see a complete restriction on a physician’s ability to practice medicine. And then sometimes we see restrictions on certain activities. Again, it doesn’t prevent them from practicing medicine, but may prevent them from doing certain things or maybe require certain things, some sort of a monitor chaperone during their practice, depending on the type, nature, severity, and a number of allegations against the physician. There is also an opportunity or possibility for a practice restriction to appear in a final consent agreement for probation.
And this is a disciplinary action against the physician’s license. It is issued at the end of an investigation as the case resolution. And typically, suppose the board and board staff has found that the physicians’ activities or the allegations contained in the Medical Board complaint rise to a level of violating the Arizona medical practice act. In that case, they may impose discipline on the physician in the form of probation. And as part of the probation, there may also be a practice restriction like what you would see in the interim practice restrictions during the investigation.
What Should You Do if You Are Under Investigation by the Arizona Medical Board?
So, typically, that will not be a complete ban on the physician’s practice because, in that case, they would revoke the license, allow the surrender of the license, or perhaps suspend the license for a period. But there are practice restrictions that can appear in final probationary orders to limit certain activities of the physician or require additional reporting or oversight of specific activities by a physician. If you are a physician here in Arizona and find yourself under investigation by the Arizona medical board, you have been offered a practice restriction. If you need advice on what to do or have general questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Arizona Behavioral Health Board Disciplinary Actions | How Actions for the Arizona Behavioral Health Board can Affect a Behavioral Health Professional
Behavioral health professionals with a license or certification in Arizona face disciplinary action from the Arizona Behavioral Health Board. Suppose the Board determines formal disciplinary action is necessary, it will happen after the completion of an investigation. In that case, it’s the job of the Board to review any complaint alleging a violation of the Arizona laws and regulations. Chelle Law’s Arizona Behavioral Health Board Attorneys have represented over 1,000 healthcare professionals before Arizona licensing boards. At Chelle Law, our attorneys have the experience to support behavioral health professionals with all Arizona Behavioral Health Board matters.
Thus, at a Board Meeting, the Board will vote to determine the outcome of each investigation. In addition, the Board can vote on non-disciplinary actions or vote to offer the behavioral healthcare professional formal discipline. Disciplinary actions can include:
- Letter of concern.
- Decree of censure.
- Non-disciplinary order for continuing education.
Arizona Behavioral Health Board Non-Disciplinary Actions
- CASE DISMISSAL: The Arizona Board may dismiss a complaint if the information indicates no violation of the Arizona behavioral healthcare professional Practice Act rules. This outcome is not available to the public.
- LETTER OF CONCERN: A letter from the Board expressing concern that the behavioral health professional’s conduct was not ideal. However, the behavior does not necessarily violate the Medical Practice Act or Board policy, and further contact is not needed. This will not affect future licensure or if the behavioral health professional wishes to further their education. This is not displayed during license verification.
- NON-DISCIPLINARY ORDER FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION: An order that dictates the behavioral health professional must complete several hours of continuing medical education for specific topics.
Arizona Behavioral Health Professional Unprofessional Conduct
- REVOCATION: If the Board revokes a behavioral health professional’s license, the behavioral health professional will be unable to practice or get licensed again. After the time period of license revocation, the behavioral health professional will need to reapply for their license. Suppose the behavioral health professional reapplies for licensure. In that case, they must demonstrate the grounds for revocation (substance abuse, mental health problems, criminal convictions) has been rectified through an application program. This is a public document.
- VOLUNTARY SURRENDER: The behavioral health professional voluntarily gives up their license. The benefit of this voluntary consent is that the Board is usually willing to reduce the time until a behavioral health professional can reapply. And this is usually between two to three years.
- SUSPENSION: A suspension stops the behavioral health professional from practicing. And then it prohibits any patient contact or health services for a period of time until the Board lifts the suspension.
- PROBATION: The Board offers probation through a consent agreement. And then, the consent agreement requires the behavioral health professional do certain things (drug testing, work supervision, counseling, continuing education). Alternatively, they may need to refrain from doing things (unsupervised practice, using alcohol, etc.) Professionals will need to request the removal of probation.
- DECREE OF CENSURE: A letter of reprimand is the lowest formal discipline against a respondent. There are no probationary requirements. This is similar to a civil penalty with other boards.
Arizona Behavioral Health Board Complaint Information
Who can file an Arizona Behavioral Health Board Complaint against a Behavioral Healthcare Professional? Patients, health care facilities, and other professionals, among others. Suppose the Arizona Behavioral Health Board receives a complaint. In that case, the Board initiates an investigation into the complaint (if the Board has jurisdiction and the Complaint isn’t dismissed). After this happens, the behavioral health professional receives notice, and the board assigns an investigator to the case. Please note that having an attorney during this step can be crucial for behavioral health professionals as they must submit a response. And then, an interview with the investigator while also possibly appearing at an Arizona Behavioral Health Board.
Responding to a Medical Records Request
After receiving an Arizona Behavioral Medical Health Board Complaint, a behavioral health doctor receives a notice from the Board requesting additional information and response to allegations found in the complaint. In that case, the Medical Board assigns an investigator to the complaint and begins collecting evidence. The documents and evidence collected include:
- Patient medical records
- Employment files from the behavioral health professional’s employer and business
- Criminal records
- Interviews of people associated with the Board Complaint (These interviewees can include the patient, medical director, colleagues, etc.)
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Behavioral Health Board Attorney services and how to protect your license, set up a consultation with Chelle Law today.
Can a Physician Request a Hearing with the Arizona Medical Board?
I wanted to briefly discuss today the formal hearing process after the conclusion of a medical board investigation. What does that mean? What are your options regarding requesting a formal hearing? After an investigation by medical board staff into allegations of unprofessional conduct, board staff will reach out to the physician. And let them know that the matter has closed.
In many cases, a consent agreement will be offered for some discipline the physician can sign at that point. To resolve the matter. So, this will be a disciplinary consent agreement for a term of probation. With various stipulations and requirements for the physician to comply with.
Medical Board Interview
Of course, it can also offer non-disciplinary outcomes at the end of an investigation. It could be an advisory letter or perhaps a full dismissal of the matter. Still, those are not outcomes that would trigger the physician’s right to proceed to a formal hearing. So, suppose they present the physician with an option to sign a disciplinary consent agreement. In that case, there will also be the option and the consent agreement to appear before the Arizona medical board. It’s called a formal interview. In place of a formal interview, the physician can ask that board staff refer the case to the OAH. Or Office of Administrative Hearings for a formal evidentiary hearing on the allegations.
If a physician opts to appear before the Board for a formal interview, it’s a truncated approach to resolving the matter. And it’s shortened. It can result in a similar consent agreement that the Board offered initially. It could always result in a better outcome for the physician, but it could also result in a worse outcome.
The Doctor Can Respond to Allegations in Writing
Suppose the physician declines the formal interview, they decline to sign the consent agreement. They opt to have their matter referred to OAH instead. They assign the case to one of the Board’s litigation councils. Then they will then proceed with drafting and serving the medical complaints and notice of hearing. Informing the physician of formal allegations that everyone will hear at the hearing. And its date and time. They will allow the physician to respond to the allegations in writing. With the option of a formal hearing, our statutes here in Arizona also enable a physician to elect to participate. They can partake in an informal settlement conference with board staff and their attorney before attending the hearings.
Arizona Board Attorneys that Can Help
So, suppose the physician does elect to pursue a formal hearing as an option in their case. In that case, they can also ask that board staff and attorneys hold an informal settlement conference. That is to resolve the matter instead of going forward with that formal hearing.
If you are a physician here in Arizona, you’re under investigation by the Arizona medical board. The investigation has concluded. And now, you must decide which option to choose and how that may affect your license and practice. If this is you and you need more information and guidance moving forward, please feel free to contact our firm.
How Long Does an Arizona Medical Board Investigation Take?
What can a physician expect when someone files a complaint against their license with the Arizona Medical Board? And how long does it typically take for that several complaints process to resolve? Unfortunately, like with many things in the law, the answer is it depends. There are a variety of factors that can affect the length of the investigation. For example, if there are several complaints against the physician, the allegations are of substance abuse or sexual. And the Board feels that they need additional information in the form of an evaluation. That can certainly prolong the course of the investigation while the physician undergoes some evaluation.
If the Physician Accepts the Consent Agreement
In addition, if the case is resolved and the Board offers the physician a consent agreement to resolve the matter. Or a non-disciplinary outcome such as a dismissal or an advisory letter. That could shorten the process if the physician, for example, chooses to accept the consent agreement or the advisory letter. And, of course, accept the dismissal as the case’s outcome.
However, suppose the board staff concludes its investigation into the matter and perhaps offers the physician a disciplinary consent agreement. In that case, the physician can reject that consent agreement and proceed to a formal interview before the Board. Or ask that the board staff refer the matter to the office of administrative hearings for a formal hearing. If the physician chooses to proceed with a formal interview or hearing. This can delay the resolution of the process because that takes more time. Typically, the Arizona medical board sends out letters to the physicians at the beginning of an investigation. They indicate that the medical complaint investigation process normally takes about six months.
In our experience, we find that the investigations typically take closer to a year. So, suppose you are under investigation, or you receive a notification of several complaints against you. In that case, it’s essential to manage your expectations. And know that it could be several months and over a year before the matter fully resolves. Also, again, that timeline can vary based on many of the factors I have discussed today. Suppose you are a physician and have found yourself under investigation by the Arizona medical board. If you feel like you need additional information or us to help guide you through the process. Please do not hesitate to reach out.
Arizona Medical Board Questions?
Complaints, Investigations, Appeals and more!