Conduct of investigations

  • The investigative department reviews every complaint received and, to the extent necessary, investigates each.
  • Most complaints are from patients. Except for extremely unusual circumstances all complaints for investigation must be in written form. Anonymous complaints are not accepted.
  • When received, a complaint is assigned to an investigator. All of the Board’s investigators are experienced law enforcement investigators, and all have been trained in medical investigations.
  • The investigator discusses the complaint with the complainant and, on occasion, an explanation from the investigator satisfies the complainant and the case is closed.
  • After obtaining particulars from the complainant, the investigator presents the complaint to the named physician(s) to obtain a first-hand, direct response from the physician and to answer the physician’s questions.
  • The investigator will ask the physician to submit a timely written response about the complaint to the Board for its review.
  • The investigator obtains collateral materials from hospitals, pharmacies, other physicians, etc., for the Board’s review.
  • After the investigator has retrieved basic information from the complainant(s), involved physician(s) and collateral material, the data is sent to the Board.
  • The Board decides if there is merit to the complaint, if it is a misunderstanding, or if further information is needed to make a judgment.
  • If the decision is to obtain more information, it may be obtained from further records, by asking the physician to supply more specific information or by inviting the physician to attend a Credentials Committee meeting to give responses fully and in person.
  • The Board may decide that the issue in the complaint was a misunderstanding or an unfortunate, but recognizable, event that did not compromise patient safety. In this case, the physician is notified in writing that no basis for action was found and the case was closed.
  • The Board may decide that there was some degree of medical practice below the desired level, but which did not affect the patient’s safety. In this case it may notify the physician through a confidential Letter of Concern that there may be areas of the physician’s practice that need attention.
  • If the level of the incident is more severe or if there is a pattern of practice that could lead to further problems, the Board may confidentially order remedial education by attendance at a specific post-graduate course.
  • If there is conduct that the Board believes is dangerous to public safety, it may file public, formal allegations with the Commission and request restrictions, revocation or other action against the physician’s license. Depending upon the urgency of the situation, the Board can request from the Commission a summary suspension of the physician’s license until the case can be heard by the Commission.

Also see BME Newsletters, Vol. 21 No. 3, "Investigations of the BME:
what to expect if a representative of the Board visits your office."

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