In our previous post, we began looking at a recent report which emphasized the failure of state medical boards to adequately address physician sexual abuse of patients. As we noted last time, statistics of physician abuse of patients and states’ handling of such situations are one thing, but evaluating the circumstances of an individual physician’s case are another.
Whenever a physician is accused of something as serious as sexual misconduct with a patient, the allegations must certainly be taken seriously. In such cases, though, nothing can be assumed for sure and a thorough investigation must be made. When the state medical board gets involved in a case, it is especially important for physicians to have an advocate at their side to ensure that their rights are protected.
Under Minnesota law, complaints against physicians alleging sexual misconduct require investigation by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. Once the investigation is complete, it is sent to the state medical board for follow up. The board will conduct its own investigation and take the action as it sees fit. Disciplinary action can vary from case to case, but confirmed cases of sexual misconduct can involve potentially heft sanctions.
Understanding the investigation process and how to work with the state medical board is important to ensure that physician is able to protect his or her due process under the law and that the board has accurate information at its disposal in determining how to handle the case. Each case must be handled differently, depending on the circumstances, and an experienced attorney will have the ability to guide a physician through the process while attempting to minimize the consequences of allegations.