Professional Regulations and Criminal Lability

* Health care is a vast ever-changing demand in the United States. Because of that high demand, quality has been a concern for many patients. Each day patients put their health and trust in the hands of health care providers. Unfortunately, there have been times when the treatment provided, whether accidental or intentional, has caused harm to the patient. Patients who have experienced injury have the right to file a civil complaint against that provider that caused the injury. Some possible reasons for civil complaints are that personal information for a patient was shared without proper consent, negligence, or assault.

These injuries are covered under Tort Law. This essay will identify a civil complaint process that patients may follow in the event of misconduct or incompetence by a provider. The role of the regulatory agencies to investigate the allegations of the misconduct will be discussed along with how they apply disciplinary actions if warranted. Potential criminal liabilities, risk management strategies, quality assurance programs to reduce the risk of liability and the process to follow in the event that charges are filed against a provider will all be identified.

In recent years, with the advances in technology and the major advancements in medicine has made a physician’s job to be perfect more complicated. The expectation to be spot on is more prominent today. Physicians are held to a higher standard now than ever before. However, physicians are still human and make mistakes. Medicine is a regulated because of the huge potential to cause harm to the public if an incompetent physician is licensed to practice. To get a license to practice medicine in the United States, physicians must met specific predetermined qualifications.

These qualifications include graduation for a medical school, post graduate training, passing the national medical licensing exam, provide a detailed work history, and reveal past personal medical history. After physicians get a license to practice medicine they must register periodically to keep an active status. To maintain the license, physicians must walk a straight line and stay within the limits of the laws. To help provide protection each state has a medical practice act that regulates the practice of medicine and has the authority to enforce the law to a state medical board.

If a patient finds his or her self at the wrong end of one of these mistakes he or she has the right to file a complaint with the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision (OSBMLS). OSBMLS is Oklahoma’s state medical board. The state medical board, the OSBML, is the state entity that issues licenses to physicians and also disciplines those physicians if they are cross the limits of the law. They also investigate complaints that are made by patient regarding unethical and incompetent behaviors.

The state medical board monitors a licensed physician’s competency and takes appropriate actions against anyone in violation of the law, when necessary suspension or revoking a license may be appropriate. However some problems can be solved with additional training and education. Other actions include probation or placing restrictions on a physician’s license in regards to how he or she can practice medicine. One way to file a complaint with OSBML is a complaint form on website http://www. okmedicalboard. org/complaint. Fill out the complaint form by answering the applicable questions.

The patient must be as specific as possible regarding the events that have taken place. If some of the applicable questions are not answered it may delay the process in resolving the complaint. Once the complaint form is filed, it will be reviewed by the medical director and the executive director to verify that a violation of the Oklahoma Medical Practice Act or the board’s rules and regulations has occurred. When a decision has been reacted the patient will be notified that the complaint has been assigned to an investigator.

The role of the investigator is to search out the facts and gather pertinent information regarding the case. In some cases local law enforcement could get involved. An investigator gathers information with telephone calls, letters, and interviews. Complaints are prioritized by the potential for patient harm. As information starts accumulating, the complicated task of sorting through it all begins. A typical case could have several hundred to several thousand pages of medical records for an investigator to process.

To accurately assess the medical complexities of a case, board investigators turn to a variety of resources. Many boards have full- or part-time medical reviewers on staff to assist investigators in developing cases. Boards also will call upon volunteer physicians within their states for expertise in a specialized area of medicine. For basic background, an investigator might turn to professional society websites or standard medical references, such as Stedman’s Medical Dictionary and The Merck Manual. Medical expertise isn’t the only hurdle.

Patients may not know the names of all the doctors involved in their care, which makes identifying key players more challenging. Or patients may get critical dates wrong, which means sifting through even more records to find the right ones. Eventually, the information that has been gathered is used to draft a letter to the physician who is the subject of the complaint, stating the allegation and asking for a response. Meanwhile, the investigator is fielding phone calls from attorneys representing other physicians who have already received such letters.