MEDPAC Minute – Physician and Patient Rights at the NC Medical Board

Legislation was filed last week by Rep. Pricey Harrison (D, Guilford) to address patient and physician rights at the North Carolina Medical Board. The provisions of the bill include:

1.       Authorizes any licensees that is requested to participate on Medical Board hearing panels, to so participate; requires the Board to appoint a non-Board member to hearing panels, as necessary, to ensure that at least one of the hearing officers is a physician who routinely uses the same treatment modalities as the licensee;

2.       Requires the Board to hire independent counsel to advise it or a hearing committee in all contested matters before the Board to avoid a conflict of interest with Board employees;

3.       To establish a patient’s right to consent to treatment, which is presumed valid if in writing and fully evidences the treatments potential benefit or harm to the patient; establishes that the Board may not discipline a licensee for patient exploitation if the patient has consented to the treatment and the cost of the treatment before commencing the course of treatment;

4.       Requires the Board to inform licensees that are under investigation, the reasons for the investigation and that the licensee has the right to consult with an attorney before submitting any records to the Board;

5.       Limits the Board’s ability to discipline a licensee because their practice includes a therapy that is experimental, nontraditional unless the Board can establish that the treatment has a safety risk greater than the prevailing treatment and that the treatment is generally not effective;

6.       Requires the Board to evaluate a physician’s professional competence in the context of the modality of treatment in question;

7.       Requires that prior to disciplining a licensee, the Board to have an expert opinion from a licensee who routinely uses the same modalities of treatment finding that the licensee has not provided care in accordance with the standard of practice for the care administered;

8.       Provides that a licensee that has been disciplined by the Board may appeal the Board’s decision to the Superior Court in Wake County or the county where the licensee resides; provides that the court shall take testimony on the case unless both parties agree to have the case heard upon the record.

9.       Requires that the Board immediately make a licensee aware of the nature of a complaint, the complainant, and the substance of the complaint, and that the Board provide the opportunity for the licensee to review the complaint with the complainant; the Board is prohibited from initiating an investigation pursuant to an anonymous complaint unless such complaint constitutes grounds for summary suspension of a license.

The NCMS is reviewing this bill in detail. We will keep our members apprised of its progress.


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