A Maryland physician was placed on probation and fined in Maryland because he failed to disclose a medical malpractice action against him in his application to renew his Maryland license. The physician was initially licensed to practice medicine in Maryland in 1977. His specialty was obstetrics and gynecology.
In 2005, a Maryland medical malpractice claim was filed against this physician. In February, 2006, while the medical malpractice case was pending, the physician filed his renewal application for hospital privileges in which he initially denied any medical malpractice claims having been filed against him but then filed an addendum in which he reported two concluded medical malpractice claims against him and the pending medical malpractice claim filed in 2005.
In August, 2006, this Maryland physician applied to renew his Maryland medical license in which he denied any pending medical malpractice actions against him. The Maryland Board of Physicians (“Board”) later learned about the medical malpractice action pending against the physician at the time of his renewal application, for which the Board brought charges against him in 2007. The Board charged him with unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine, willfully making a false report or record in the practice of medicine, and willfully making a false representation in making an application for a medical license related to the practice of medicine. The Board found that the physician had committed those violations and imposed a reprimand and $10,000 fine.
The physician requested and received an administrative hearing, which also found against him and recommended a reprimand and $5,000 fine. The Board subsequently ordered six-months probation, a $5,000 fine, and that the physician complete an ethics course (the ethics course requirement was recommended at each level of the disciplinary process). The physician filed three successive appeals, with the last one being heard by the highest appellate court in Maryland, the Maryland Court of Appeals.
The physician challenged whether his submission of his medical license renewal application occurred “in the practice of medicine” for which the Board could punish him. The Maryland Court of Appeals stated that a critical factor in determining whether a physician’s conduct was within the practice of medicine is whether the conduct occurred while the physician was performing a task integral to his medical practice. The Court of Appeals determined that the completion and filing of an application for the renewal of a medical license was integral to the practice of medicine because without a medical license, the physician would have no authority to practice medicine.
The Court of Appeals also found that filing a license renewal application is sufficiently intertwined with patient care because the Board must be able to rely on the accuracy of information conveyed in license applications in order to investigate and determine a physician’s fitness to practice medicine. The Court of Appeals stated “The Board is entitled to expect truthful submissions, particularly with respect to information concerning suits for malpractice, given that such suits directly raise questions regarding a physician’s fitness to practice.”
We applaud the Maryland Court of Appeals’ acknowledgement that a history of medical malpractice suits may reflect on a physician’s fitness to practice medicine. Too often medical boards’ actions protect physicians with paid medical malpractice claims against them rather than protect the public from negligent physicians. Physicians with multiple medical malpractice paid claims are responsible for substantial medical malpractice payments and for rising medical malpractice insurance premiums. If bad doctors are identified and disciplined faster, before they can commit medical malpractice again, the benefits would accrue to competent physicians because their medical malpractice insurance premiums would be lower, to patients because a major source and cause of medical malpractice injuries would be reduced, and to medical boards whose reputations would soar in the eyes of the public.
If you or a loved one were the victim of a negligent medical mistake or error and have been injured as a result, visit our website or telephone us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to help you with a medical malpractice claim.
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