New regulations seek to improve investigation of providers

When a patient is harmed by a negligent doctor, nurse, hospital or other health care provider or institution they deserve some measure of justice. This can come by way of compensation, either through a settlement or jury award, as in medical malpractice litigation. It can also come in the form of provider discipline.

State health-licensing boards are responsible not only for conducting investigations of providers who’ve received complaints, but also for disciplining providers found to be violating the principles underlying their professional license. This may mean license suspension or revocation, or perhaps a verbal warning. Hopefully the discipline is commensurate with the harm the physician has done. That, at least, is the hope. Unfortunately, investigation of providers doesn’t always achieve its intended purpose. 

Beginning in July, new regulations will go into effect which seek to ensure that health-licensing boards are not able to inappropriately terminate investigation of health care professionals accused of misconduct. Under the new rules, a minimum of three board members would have to sign off on terminating an investigation. And, in cases where an investigation is terminated, that decision can be overruled by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs if public health and welfare justify the investigation.

The new rules, passed earlier this month, are primarily aimed at ensuring that licensing board chairs do not end investigations due to conflicts of interest. It is not expected that the new regulations will increase the number of investigations, but only that the integrity of investigations will be better ensured.

Injured patients who have questions about how to hold providers professionally liable for misconduct can contact an attorney, who can help with litigation issues and other potential forms of seeking justice. 

Source: Crain’s Detroit Business, “New state rules seek to tighten doctor discipline,” Jay Greene, April 20, 2014. 

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