The Maryland Board of Physicians (the "Board") is an agency of the state with the authority to license physicians and other health care providers such as physician assistants, radiographers, radiation therapists, radiologist assistants, nuclear medicine technologists, respiratory care practitioners, psychiatrist assistants, polysomnographic technologists, and athletic trainers to practice in Maryland, and to discipline licensees who violate the Maryland Medical Practice Act.
In addition to establishing qualifications for licensure, the Board is responsible for investigating complaints against licensees and for taking action against the license of those who fail to maintain Maryland's high standards of medical care delivery or who break the laws governing licensure.
WHAT IS THE MISSION OF THE BOARD? (back to top)
THE BOARD'S MISSION is to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Maryland through strong enforcement of licensure standards for physicians and allied health providers; and through an effective disciplinary program.
WHAT SERVICE DOES THE BOARD PROVIDE? (back to top)
The Board provides two principal types of consumer services: 1) information on licensing and 2) information about licensees who have been charged or sanctioned for violation of the Maryland Medical Practice Act. The Medical Practice Act is the statute which outlines the grounds for discipline and gives the Board the authority to enforce the statute.
The Board does not act as a physician referral service. But the Board can answer questions about a licensee's credentials and training and can let you know if the licensee has been disciplined by the Board.
WHAT KIND OF COMPLAINTS RESULT IN DISCIPLINE? (back to top)
Patients often become upset about the medical care that they receive when they feel that they have been treated rudely or been made to wait too long. Often, they feel that they have been overcharged for the quality of the service they have received. As the Board reviews complaints, the physician or health care provider usually will be informed of a complaint and may be asked to respond to the allegation. Often, after hearing from the Board, the physician or health care provider and the patient are able to come to a resolution of the matter. A typical complaint resolved in this fashion might deal with the prompt release of medical records or the cost of copying the record.
The Board takes disciplinary action when an individual violates the Maryland Medical Practice Act in a manner determined by the Board to warrant prosecution.
The following are some of the more serious infractions that lead to the Board placing restrictions on a licensee or even revoking a license to practice in Maryland.
- Misuse of alcohol or drugs
- Sexual contact with patients
- Conviction of a criminal act
- Prescribing addictive drugs without a bona fide medical indication
- Accepting money or other consideration in return for patient referrals
- Practicing without a license or aiding others to do so
- Providing substandard care
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE BOARD CONDUCTS AN INVESTIGATION? (back to top)
The Maryland law provides that the Board is required to show by evidence that a licensee has breached the Medical Practice Act. A thorough investigation of the facts must precede the Board making a charge against a physician or other health care provider. The Board employs full time investigators who gather information and present it to the Board members. If the Board has a reasonable basis to conclude that a breach of the Maryland Medical Practice Act has occurred, charges are then brought against the licensee. The accused individual then has the opportunity to defend himself/herself before an administrative law judge in a formal administrative hearing. Anyone filing a complaint might be called to testify at the hearing. In sensitive cases, the identity of the witness is not publicly released. After the hearing, if a violation of the Medical Practice Act has occurred, the Board may invoke a penalty against the licensee appropriate to the breach. Retraining, a course in ethics, psychiatric treatment, community service, and other requirements may be required in addition to, or in lieu of, license suspension or revocation.
HOW LONG DOES THE COMPLAINT PROCESS TAKE? (back to top)
Many minor complaints are resolved within a few weeks in an informal manner. When a full investigation results in the Board bringing formal charges, the process takes longer. Cases involving standards of quality care go through a peer review in which other physicians examine the quality of care provided and issue an opinion. Because the Board provides due process to the licensees, the disciplinary process takes a long time. Still, almost all of the Board's cases are resolved within 18 months and most are resolved sooner.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A COMPLAINT? (back to top)
Contact the Board and request a complaint form. The Board investigates ALL complaints it receives to determine whether the licensee is fulfilling his/her obligations under the Medical Practice Act. If there is a breach, the Board has the authority to take action against the license of the health care provider. These actions could be as minor as a letter of concern informing the licensee of the Board's attitude regarding a specific health delivery problem, or as serious as a revocation of a license if there has been a serious breach of the law. The Board also has authority to reprimand, suspend the license to practice, or assess fines up to $50,000.
The Board does not have the authority to order a physician to make recompense to an individual who thinks he/she has been harmed by a physician. This type of complaint is pursued by contacting an attorney and initiating a suit in the civil justice system. Even if the Board disciplines a licensee, that information is not admissible in a civil action, even though the disciplinary action may be based on the same facts.
Maryland Board of Physicians
4201 Patterson Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21215-0095
410-764-4777 (local) or 1-800-492-6836 (toll free)
TTD for the Disabled: 1-800-735-2258
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