Hi, my name is Sarah Stark, and I’m an attorney at Chelle Law in Scottsdale, Arizona. We regularly represent physicians and physician assistants before the Arizona medical board and the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants. One issue that often comes up is the requirement or duty under Arizona law for healthcare providers to report misdemeanors. Or felony charges to their regulatory boards.
Professionals Required to Report for Medical Board Investigation
A.R.S. 32-3208 provides that the licensee should report these charges to their regulatory board. And should be within ten working days from a misdemeanor charge. It also involves conduct that may affect patient safety or felony charges. It’s considered unprofessional conduct under the statute for failure to report these charges within ten working days.
This often confuses professionals and licensees as they believe they are only required to report to their board’s convictions. Or only the final disposition of criminal matters when they are statutorily required to report any charges against them.
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What is a Summary Suspension by the Arizona Medical Board?
What is a summary suspension for a physician licensed with the Arizona Medical Board? And what does that process look like? And what can a physician expect if they find that proceedings can suspend their license summarily?
To Protect Public Health, Safety, and Welfare
A summary suspension is an emergency action the Arizona Medical Board takes. They do this if they believe public health, safety, and welfare require emergency action. The board will take action against a physician’s license to restrict all or some of their practice. So, this is an action the board takes before thoroughly investigating the allegations of unprofessional conduct. The physician has had an opportunity for a formal interview or hearing on the allegations.
Suppose the board feels the allegations are serious enough. So severe that they cannot put off action against the license until the investigation has concluded. In that case, they can summarily suspend. If they believe that harm could come to the public while board staff is completing their investigation into the allegations. It can be an action the board staff recommends to the board to restrict the physician’s ability to practice thoroughly. It could be an action the board staff takes. Should a physician refuse to sign an interim practice restriction during the investigation?
Suppose the board staff receives a complaint with serious allegations. If they’re concerned about the physician’s ability to practice, they can offer an interim practice restriction. To prohibit or limit some of that physician’s practice activities while they gather more information about the allegations.
Say a physician refuses to sign an interim practice restriction offered by board staff during the investigation. The board staff’s recourse at that point is to proceed with a summary suspension of the physician’s license. Again, this is asking the board to suspend and restrict the physician’s ability to practice. The suspension occurs even while pending a formal administrative hearing into the allegations.
Health Care Professionals’ Right by Statute
Suppose the board summarily suspends a physician’s license and finds that emergency action is required to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. The physician has a right by statute to have an administrative hearing on the allegations. And within 60 days of the summary suspension. At that point, should the board vote to immediately suspend the physician’s license, they would refer the matter to the office of administrative hearings for a full evidentiary hearing.
By statute, that hearing must be held within 60 days of the summary suspension by the board. Should you find yourself under investigation by the Arizona Medical Board. Or in the process of summary suspension proceedings or a subsequent formal hearing after being summarily suspended. Please do not hesitate to contact our firm if you need advice or assistance.
What is NPDB, and What Does it Do?
What is the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), and how does it relate to an Arizona Medical Board investigation? And possible disciplinary actions against a physician’s license.
The NPDB is an online database. It records specific adverse actions against physicians or other health care practitioners’ licenses by state regulatory agencies. It also holds a record of medical malpractice payments made. So, what does this have to do with your Arizona Medical Board investigation?
Medical Board Disciplinary Action
Well, if the Arizona Medical Board disciplines you. Let’s say you have a case. It’s gone through the investigative process, and the board has offered you a consent agreement for some disciplinary action. Or the board has voted to issue you some disciplinary action as the case outcome. With corrective action and a written consent agreement issued in addition. The Arizona Medical Board will report those to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
Again, this data bank maintains a record of adverse actions against physicians and other Arizona health care practitioners’ licenses. Practitioners need to know that once a matter gets reported to the NPDB, it never gets removed. The Arizona Medical Board maintains a record of disciplinary actions on its website for no more than five years by statute. However, The National Practitioner Data Bank keeps a permanent record of all reported actions.
Disputing a Report
You can submit a statement explaining your position on the reportable facts in National Practitioner Data Bank. There is also a mechanism for filing a dispute regarding a submitted report. But otherwise, there is no mechanism for getting a report removed or amended.
Should you find yourself under investigation by the Arizona Medical Board. Or if you’re considering entering into a consent agreement that requires you to take some disciplinary action against your license. Please note that this will be reportable to the National Practitioner Data Bank. And if we can assist, please do not hesitate to contact us.
What Criminal Charges Should a Physician Report to the Arizona Medical Board?
What types of criminal charges must physicians report to the Arizona Medical Board? To put it another way, imagine you are a doctor who has been arrested and charged with a crime. Now, what are your reporting obligations to your licensing board?
In Arizona, we have a statute called A.R.S. 32-3208. It governs the reporting of criminal charges by all Arizona health care professionals to their regulatory boards. Essentially, this statute states that if charged with a felony or misdemeanor, that may affect patient safety. A practitioner or provider must report those criminal charges to their regulatory board. It must be in writing and within ten working days upon the filing of charges.
Many people are unaware that they must do so. Many practitioners mistakenly believe they must only report the final disposition of a criminal case. Or any conviction resulting from criminal charges. However, this is not the case.
Under the statutory language, a provider must report any criminal charges filed within ten working days. The statutes here go even further. It is unprofessional for providers not to say these criminal charges to their regulatory board.
Look Up Information About Reportable Offenses
Consider the following scenario: you are arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Or any other felony that may seriously affect patient health and safety. In that case, you must notify the medical board within ten business days. It’s worth noting that the language surrounding the misdemeanor charge that may seriously affect a patient’s safety appears to be very limiting. Still, visit the website of the Arizona Medical Board. They do provide a list of reportable misdemeanor offenses.
According to the statute, these are misdemeanors that may jeopardize patient safety. The list includes a wide range of offenses. In that case, don’t assume that the misdemeanor they’ve charged you won’t impact patient health and safety. And it will also relieve you of the obligation to notify the medical board about the charge. Say they charged you with a crime, or you are a physician who needs help self-reporting to the Arizona medical board. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
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