Doctor Discipline Actions from the Iowa Medical Board
The Iowa Board of Medicine has authorization from state law to investigate complaints. These complaints are from patients, other physicians, and personnel concerning physicians (M.D.s and D.O.s), as well as licensed acupuncturists. In such cases where the board finds that the physician has committed a punishable offense, it may take action. While the entirety of the board’s disciplinary procedures and possible disciplinary actions are available, this is an overview of doctor discipline actions.
The Medical Complaint Process
When a complaint is received, it is assigned a case number and a file is opened. Every week, the executive director, the legal director, medical advisor, and chief investigator meet. Firstly, this team determines the appropriate level of investigation for each complaint. Cases determined to be within the board’s purview immediately go to an investigator. Less serious cases or those that may not be within the board’s purview are referred to the board.
The investigator only investigates and does not assign guilt or innocence. The board receives the findings from the investigation to make a ruling. Based on the summarized evidence presented, the board determines whether any disciplinary action is warranted.
Which Compaints Go to Doctor Discipline Actions
Because the board has limited resources, they must focus on complaints that may pose a serious danger to patients. These would include complaints that deal with serious concerns. For example, competency concerns, patients that are harmed severely, severe medical errors, substance abuse, criminal misconduct, sexual misconduct, or other severe professional misconduct that may affect the safety of patients.
The board receives approximately 700+ cases every year. Of these, only about 10% of those cases result in formal charges being filed. 20% receive a Confidential Letter of Education or Warning. The remaining 70% are closed without any action being taken.
Once the board has reviewed the investigation, it can take several actions:
- File a public statement of charges and refer the case to the Office of the Attorney General for prosecution.
- Suspend all or some of a licensee’s privileges to practice and schedule a hearing to take place within 30-45 days. However, if continued patient harm is likely, and in the most serious cases, the board may issue an emergency suspension of privileges.
- Direct the director of public affairs to seek a settlement with the licensee. A finalized settlement becomes public information.
- They may also choose to continue the investigation by referring it back to the investigator. The case is submit for peer review or the licensee submits to a confidential evaluation.
- Close the case and issue a Confidential Letter of Education or Warning.
- Close the case without action by dismissing the complaint.
As a part of a settlement, the board may take a range of actions. The board imposes a combination of actions as they find appropriate. The following are some of the penalties a licensee may face:
- A formal citation or warning may be issued
- Place a license on probation which is subject to monitoring or conditions
- Restrict a license
- Suspend or revoke a license
- Accept a voluntary suspension of license
- Issue a civil penalty that cannot exceed $10,000
The investigative process can take some time to complete, averaging a few months or longer. The case remains open until the board decides to close it or orders a hearing.
However, a board discipline decision does not result in compensation for an injured patient. In this case, you will need an experienced, knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney.
At Galligan Law, our Iowa medical malpractice attorneys and dedicated staff bring broad experience, expertise, care, and commitment to each medical malpractice case we take on. Call us today for a free consultation at 800-217-9312! Above all, our goal is to bring justice to those wronged in Des Moines, Iowa.