What do Doctors Need to Report to the Medical Board?

Understanding what to report to the Colorado Medical Board outside the renewal cycle can help doctors avoid disciplinary issues.

The most frequent mistake physicians make is failing to report a new address to the Board. Rule 270 requires physicians to update their address of record within 30 days. This requires an express request from the doctor that the address be changed. The Board will not update its files otherwise. While this may seem mundane, the failure to update an address can lead to disciplinary actions when complaint letters do not reach the physician.

Another requirement often overlooked is to notify the Board when a physician/P.A. relationship ends.  Under Rule 400, a P.A.’s conduct may be imputed to a supervising physician.  The Board deems the supervisory relationship to continue “until specifically rescinded by either the physician assistant or the primary physician supervisor in writing.” A physician must not only file a notice with the Board of the supervisory relationship, also notify the Board when the relationship ends. Physicians should not rely on the assumption that the P.A. will notify the Board when the relationship ends.

The failure to timely report a condition that affects a physician’s ability to practice safely will prevent the doctor from entering into a confidential agreement. Under C.R.S. § 12-36-118.5, the Board is authorized enter into confidential agreements to limit practice if the physician suffers from a physical or mental condition that renders the physician unable to safely practice. However, doctors can only take advantage of this statute if the licensee reports the condition to the Board within 30 days of onset. Rule 295 explains the information to be reported, and Policy 30-04 provides guidance on the types of conditions that must be reported. Failure to timely report can result in public discipline.

Doctors and P.A.s are also required to report within 30 days any adverse action against the licensee taken by another state or country, a peer review body, health care institutions, and others. This requirement extends to governmental agencies, law enforcement and courts, if that action would constitute a violation of the Medical Practice Act. Thus, physicians must report any limitation of privilege, felony convictions, and any exclusion from Federal health care programs. Doctors (and P.A.s) must also to report any surrender of privileges while under investigation. Doctors are not required to report malpractice settlements, although Colorado insurance companies must, by statute, report malpractice settlements and judgments to the Medical Board.

Doctors and DUIs: What to do if you’ve had one too many

Just like every other segment of the population, Colorado physicians are not immune from making the mistake of drinking and driving. Unlike other segments of the population, however, a DUI or other alcohol related offense can result in professional discipline. So, what do you do if you are a licensed health care provider who gets a DUI?

The Colorado Medical Practice Act requires that all physicians report within 30 days any “adverse action” by a law enforcement agency that would constitute grounds for discipline under the Medical Practice Act. Although it is arguable that a first-time offense of drunk driving or other related offense would not constitute grounds for discipline and would not, therefore be reportable, under the MPA, the wiser course is to report the action to the Medical Board within 30 days of any conviction. A physician would be required to report the conviction during the next licensing cycle regardless, so it makes sense to self-report early. Like many things, the failure to report could result in greater discipline than the act itself.

Doctors should be aware, however, that once the matter is self-reported, the Medical Board will require the licensee to undergo an evaluation with the physicians’ health program, CPHP, and will issue a complaint letter to the physician to investigate the matter. A great deal of the Board’s decision making with respect to possible discipline will depend on the outcome of the CPHP report. If the report identifies an underlying physical or mental disability, discipline is likely and could include treatment and monitoring. Given the potential downside, the best course of action if you have one too many is to call a cab or get a ride. The trip to pick up your car the next day will be significantly less of a hassle than the damage caused to your license.

Colorado Extends Transparency Act To All Licensed Health Care Providers

In 2007, Colorado enacted the Michael Skolnik Transparency Act, which directed Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies to create a database of information on physicians. The stated purpose of the Act was to provide transparency to the public regarding the competency of their doctors and to permit Coloradans to make informed health care decisions. The Skolnik Act was one of the first of its kind in the country, and required doctors to make public a broad range of information, including previously confidential information such as involuntary hospital privilege restrictions and malpractice settlements.

In 2010, the General Assembly enacted new legislation to expand the scope of the Transparency Act to include not only medical doctors, but most licensed or registered health care provider within Colorado. The Act covers audiologists, acupuncturists, podiatrists, chiropractors, dentists, dental hygienists, hearing aid providers, physician assistants, mid-wives, nurses, optometrists, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family therapist, addiction counselors and unlicensed psychotherapists.

As a practical matter, the new Medical Transparency Act goes into effect for non-physician health care providers July 1, 2011. For all licensing/registration cycles after July 1, 2011, these health care providers must provide certain information to their respective regulatory agencies. The information that must be provided includes such things as Board certifications and specialties; affiliations with or clinical privileges held at hospitals or health care facilities; health care-related business ownership interests; disciplinary actions in other states or countries; health care-related employment contracts; DEA registration surrenders; criminal convictions and malpractice settlements and judgments. Penalties for non-compliance include administrative fines of up to $5,000, and discipline for unprofessional conduct.

The precise reporting requirements for each board will vary and will be generally dictated by DORA policies, and will be dependent on individual circumstances. While at the attorney general’s office, I co-authored the Medical Board’s policy compliance with the Transparency Act.

The entire Medical Transparency Act of 2010 can be viewed here.

Copyright Miller | Kabler, P.C., Attorneys-at-Law