Health Care Consolidation

Health Care Consolidation and its anti-trust Implications are important issues for medical practices competing with hospital-based practices. The AMA has taken a strong position indicating its concern for the anti-trust implications of consolidation. Here is the link to their policy statement on this issue. http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/amawire/2011-september-14/2011-september-14-general_news1.shtml?P=P&C=M&G=F&M=F&I=F&W=F&Y=F&S=F

Recent Cases

The Maryland Court of Appeals issued a very damaging opinion to physicians in a BOP case. The Court recently held that a statement by an attorney during a confidential settlement proceeding (CRC) was not subject to protection and that a physician’s renewal application constituted the practice of medicine and was therefore subject to the professional misconduct provisions of the Medical Practice Act.

Med Chi Supports Independent Review of the Board

Last week the Maryland State Legislative Auditor released a report expressing concern about forty-seven operational items at the Maryland Board of Physicians. The report prompted Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Josh Sharfstein, MD, to request an independent review of the Board of Physicians. MedChi supports the review.

In a letter to Board of Physician’s Chairman Paul T. Elder, M.D. MedChi President Harry Arjawat, MD, expressed support for an independent review of the Maryland Board of Physicians. Dr. Arjawat wrote “we support Secretary Sharfstein’s efforts to bring in Jay Perlman, M.D., President of the University of Maryland–Baltimore, to further review the Board’s operations and make recommendations for improvement. Med Chi stands ready to assist in this effort, however it may. A proper balance must be struck between affording the public the safety it deserves from physicians who do not act appropriately, and at the same time ensuring that physicians are treated properly and that their regulatory board is functioning fairly and efficiently.”

The Maryland State Medical Society (“MedChi”), is currently reviewing the findings contained in the Sunset Evaluation of the Board of Physicians (“Board”) conducted by the Department of Legislative Services. While the Med Chi review of the report is not yet complete and the Board still has an opportunity to respond to the findings, we are troubled by a number of issues raised in the Evaluation. Primarily, certain issues in the evaluation are recurring, including the number of days it takes to bring cases to resolution. The evaluation notes certain improvements in this area, but it also states that with respect to standard of care cases, the number of days it takes to investigate those allegations has increased by 14% between 2007 and 2010. From the perspective of the physician that is being investigated, as well as the patient whose concern prompted the complaint, 452 days is an inordinate amount of time of uncertainty.

Though we do not believe it is raised in the Evaluation, Med Chi also believes that a physician should have the right to have a disciplinary record expunged under reasonable circumstances and after a suitable period of time. Simply put, if a criminal is entitled to such a right, so should be a physician.

MedChi plans to make Board of Physicians reform a key issue in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly Session. To that end, we will follow the issue closely, working to improve the Board and its operations.

Gene M. Ransom, III
CEO MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society

Board of Physicians

The Task Force on Discipline of Health Care Professionals and Improved Health Care issued its final report in 2009. It contained important reforms of the current structure of the Board of Physicians. Its most important provisions were rejected by the legislature. These recommendations need to be revisited. I urge each of you to review the Task Force report and urge you to contact your legislative representatives and Maryland Medical Society representatives to press for its passage. You will find the report at: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/26excom/defunct/html/20healprof.html

New Cases of Interest

In a Board of Physicians case where the physician was accused of unprofessional conduct the Court of Appeals of Maryland ruled that Section 14-404 (b) does not authorize the BOP to revoke the license of a physician where the physician has entered an Alford plea to a simple assault, received a PBJ and denied that he committed any wrongdoing. The CA ordered the BOP to grant the physician a hearing on the charges

Ed Goundry argued the case before the CA