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I received a letter from my state’s licensing board. Now what?

A complaint from a state licensing board (SMB) requires attention. The SMB acts on a variety of complaints, including those involving quality of care, failure to communicate, medical record deficiencies, prescription concerns, errors or inaccuracies on one’s application to receive a license to practice medicine, allegations of sexual misconduct, and reports of substance abuse. Once it receives a complaint, the SMB will review the filing, investigate if warranted and may send the physician at issue a notification.

Whatever reason for the complaint, it is wise for those who receive a letter to take the following action:

  • Report. It is a good idea to notify the malpractice insurance provider of the issue. It is also wise to reach out to legal counsel to better ensure your interests are protected throughout the process.
  • Respond. Do not ignore the correspondence. A failure to respond, even if it seems completely frivolous or without merit, can lead to additional problems. Your attorney can provide guidance on the best way to respond to the notification. This may include a letter to the SMB or investigators.
  • Review records. Although you can review records to remind yourself of the events that led to the issue, do not alter or destroy the medical records.

If you receive a notification of a complaint, you are not alone. The Federation of State Medical Boards reports an average of 50,000 complaints are filed every year. These filings can lead to a dismissal or closure with a private letter of concern. Other potential penalties can include a suspension of the physician’s medical license, a settlement or a formal hearing. In some cases, a hearing can lead to a revocation of the doctor’s medical license.

With action, you can reduce the risk of a negative impact on your career.