We’ve been looking in recent posts at the issue of standard of proof and burden of proof in physician disciplinary proceedings. As we noted last time, the appropriate standard and burden of proof in physician disciplinary cases is dictated by administrative rules of the Office of Administrative Hearings.
When it comes to burden of proof, the rules state that it is always the party seeking to prove a matter in a disciplinary proceeding that has the burden of proof, unless there is some substantive law which requires a different burden. In disciplinary proceedings against a physician, the medical board has the overall burden of proof to support whatever disciplinary action it proposes. The burden can shift back and forth between the board and the physician, though, as proceedings go forward.
The standard of proof, which involves the weight of evidence which must be presented, is stated in the administrative rules to be preponderance of the evidence. This means that the medical board needs to prove that it is more likely than not that the accusations made against a physician are true in order for disciplinary action to be taken. This is the prevailing standard unless another standard is supposed to be applied under some provision of the constitution, statute or case law.
One of the reasons it is important to have a strong advocate in the disciplinary hearing process is that it isn’t always clear exactly who has the burden of proof and what standard is to be applied. Determining which standard is correct is important, as it can impact the outcome of the proceedings.
Our firm can help medical professionals navigate these and other issues that arise in the disciplinary process, and thereby help ensure that their interests are represented as strongly as possible.