The Oregon Medical Board (Board) provides this information to answer questions often asked by licensees under investigation. If you have other questions, please contact the Board or the investigator assigned to you.
The Board’s mission is to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of Oregon citizens by regulating the practice of medicine. As a result, the Board investigates complaints against Medical Doctors (MD), Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), Physician Assistants (PA) and Acupuncturists (LAc).
The Board receives hundreds of complaints each year, and each complaint is entered into the Board’s electronic database. The Board only takes action if there has been a violation of state law (the Medical Practice Act). Some examples of violations are gross or repeated acts of negligence, conviction of certain crimes, boundary violations or other ethical violations. Each complaint goes through an initial review process. Complaints that do not indicate a violation of state law are closed with no further action.
Complaints that do not close during the initial screening process are assigned to a Board investigator to gather additional information. That additional information may include statements from the complainant, witnesses, other healthcare providers involved in the care of the patient, records related to the matter or a consultant’s opinion. Once all relevant information is collected, it is presented to the Investigative Committee, a sub-committee of the Board. The Investigative Committee may request additional investigation or may forward the investigation to the Board. The Board ultimately decides whether to proceed to discipline. Less than 10% of complaints result in formal action by the Board.
Frequently Asked Questions
I am under investigation. What happens next?
You will receive (or have received) a letter that includes the allegation, contact information for the assigned investigator and details on the investigation process. The letter explains what you are required to do. The investigator may also notify you directly by phone or in person. You must respond to the allegation and any specific questions. You may also need to provide records. Do not ignore due dates.
Should I hire an attorney?
You may find an attorney helpful during an investigation; however, you must decide whether hiring an attorney is the right choice for you. Your malpractice carrier may provide an attorney or the Oregon Bar Association can assist with finding one (503-684-3763 or 800-452-7636).
Can I just call the complainant and straighten this out?
You should not attempt to contact the person you believe is the complainant. We cannot release information about the complainant because this information is confidential.
Can I contact one of the Board members to discuss my investigation?
You should not contact a Board member about your investigation. If you would like the Board to consider specific information, please contact the assigned investigator.
How long will the investigation take?
The length of an investigation varies greatly. Some investigations close within only a few months while others may take over a year. Investigations that are complex, have multiple patients or witnesses, require interviews or use consultants will take longer to resolve. You are encouraged to contact the investigator regarding the status of the investigation.
Who reviews the facts of my investigation?
The investigator gathers your response, interviews witnesses and complainants, obtains medical records and collects other physical evidence. A subcommittee of the Board known as the Investigative Committee (IC) reviews the materials and, if needed, requests further information such as patient charts, consultant review or an interview with you. When the IC members have reviewed all of the necessary information, they recommend a course of action to the full Board. The Board members then review the complete investigation and make a determination.
What happens if the Board believes I violated the Medical Practice Act?
If, after reviewing the investigation, the Board believes that a violation occurred, they may issue a “Complaint and Notice of Proposed Disciplinary Action.” The Complaint and Notice includes the allegations, the basis for the proposed disciplinary action and instructions on how to request a hearing. Do not ignore the due date to request a hearing. If you do not request a hearing by the due date, you waive your right to a hearing, and the Board issues a Default Final Order. After requesting a hearing, you can work with the Board to negotiate a settlement. If you cannot reach an agreement with the Board, a hearing is held. Very few investigations result in a hearing.
What are the possible outcomes?
Investigations resolve in a variety of ways:
- Most investigations close with no formal action taken by the Board. If this happens, the Board sends you a letter stating that the investigation is closed and no further action will be taken.
- In some investigations, the Board closes the investigation with a “Letter of Concern.” A Letter of Concern is a confidential letter stating the Board’s concerns about the matter under investigation. A Letter of Concern is not a disciplinary action and is not reported to the national databanks. You will also receive a second letter stating that the investigation is closed with no disciplinary action. This gives you evidence of the investigation being closed with no formal action by the Board.
- Sometimes, the Board closes the investigation with an agreement known as a Corrective Action Agreement (CAA). A CAA is an agreement to fulfill certain terms and is often not disciplinary. These agreements may or may not be reportable to the national databanks depending on the circumstances of the investigation. A common CAA requirement is that the licensee completes specific education.
- Other investigations may close with the Board issuing a Stipulated Order. This is an agreement to practice under certain terms. This agreement is disciplinary and is reportable to the national databanks. Possible terms include suspension, fine, probation, reprimand or chaperone requirements.