The Black Cloud of a Medical Board Investigation

Leigh Page


December 23, 2015

In This Article


What is happening in Michigan, however, may be running against the general trend around the country. In the past, state legislators often spearheaded efforts to make physicians more accountable to the public, but now some lawmakers are pressuring boards to be more accountable to doctors.

In addition to Chippendale in Rhode Island, Rep Richard Morrissette, a Democrat in the Oklahoma legislature, is investigating his state board. In January, he held hearings on the board's action and then introduced[8] legislation that would limit its powers. "Long overdue, the people and physicians of the state now will have faith in a system that oversees doctors’ behavior which is fair and important," Morrissette said of his bill.

Both the number of complaints and actions taken by boards seems to be subsiding in some states. The 2014 report by the Texas Medical Board showed that the number of complaints filed with the board had fallen 17% after reaching a peak of 8182 in 2009. And the FSMB reported[9] that the number of adverse actions by boards nationwide reached a peak of 4560 in 2009 and has been declining up to 2012, the last reported year.

But even though the numbers are down a little, board actions can still be a nightmare for the small number of physicians who get caught up in them. "Going through the process can be quite stressful, and there aren't a lot of resources for physicians who go through this," Dr Sullivan says. "Many doctors just internalize their feelings." A recent British study[10] of physicians who had complaints filed against them found they experienced unusually high rates of serious depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

Sullivan added that it's hard for the public to understand what physicians go through. "It's not the same as getting fired," he says. "If you get fired, you can always get another job, and no one may know what happened. But an adverse action by a medical board follows you wherever you go."


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