Investigations Division - Frequently Asked Questions
WHEN THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH AN ALLOPATHIC MEDICAL DOCTOR (M.D.), A PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT (P.A.), A PRACTITIONER OF RESPIRATORY CARE OR A PERFUSIONIST
1. What is the Board?
The Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners is the state governmental agency which licenses and disciplines medical doctors (M.D.s), physician assistants (PA-C), practitioners of respiratory care and perfusionists. It is comprised of nine members: six are physicians actively practicing in Nevada, and three are public members, and all are appointed by the Governor.
2. I know what a license is, but what does "discipline" mean with regard to doctors, physician assistants, practitioners of respiratory care and perfusionists?
If a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist breaks the law under the Nevada Medical Practice Act (chapter 630 of the Nevada Revised Statutes and Nevada Administrative Code), the Board can investigate and file charges against him or her. If the charges are proven, the Board can revoke the license of the doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist, put him or her on probation, or impose other sanctions against him or her that are authorized by the Nevada Medical Practice Act.
3. What kinds of things can a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist be disciplined for?
There are three major categories, and several less serious ones:
- As an example, if a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist fails to use a well-known and effective treatment, to the patient’s detriment, that may be malpractice.
- Sometimes, a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist does things that are not extremely careless, but are not appropriate for the condition of the patient. For example, if several patients of a plastic surgeon end up with unusual infections following facelifts, are hospitalized, and are left with scars, that may be malpractice.
- Professional Incompetence:
- If a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist does things which he or she is not adequately trained to do, or does not maintain the skills needed to practice safely and effectively, he or she may be professionally incompetent. An example is a doctor who continues to do a surgical procedure that others in his or her field stopped doing years ago because it was found to be unnecessarily dangerous, or, a general practitioner does a plastic surgery, for which he or she is not adequately trained.
- What are some other causes for Physician, Physician Assistant, Practitioner of Respiratory Care or Perfusionist discipline?
- Problems with drugs or alcohol, or emotional stability.
- Sexual misconduct with patients.
- Abandonment of a patient.
- Indiscriminate prescribing and other drug law violations, such as prescribing to a known addict, diverting drugs to illegal street sale, or prescribing without medical reason.
- Knowingly allowing an unlicensed person to practice medicine.
- Conviction of a serious crime, or crime involving moral turpitude, or crime involving the practice of medicine.
- Billing for services not rendered.
4. What does the Board not do?
|doctor's front office (clerical) staff
||emergency medical technicians
||medical insurance companies
||oriental medicine occupations
The Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners regulates only medical doctors (M.D.s), physician assistants (PA-Cs), practitioners of respiratory care and perfusionists. See the governmental offices listing in the phone book for other regulatory boards or call Nevada State Library Research Assistance at 775-684-3360, or toll-free from within the state of Nevada at 800-922-2880.
The Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners has no legal authority over what a doctor charges (unless it involves fraud), and cannot help with getting fees reduced or refunded. Sometimes the Office of the Governor, Consumer Health Assistance Program (702-486-3587 in Las Vegas or 888-333-1597, toll-free from within the state of Nevada) can help with fee problems.
5. What can I find out about a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist?
We can tell you if a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist is licensed, or if he or she has been formally disciplined, and provide you with his or her educational background and malpractice history. For this information, call the office of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners at 775-688-2559 in Reno, or 888-890-8210 toll-free from within the state of Nevada, and then press "0" (zero). By law, we cannot reveal whether a complaint has been made against a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist unless the complaint has resulted in formal charges.
We cannot recommend a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist, or tell you who is available in your community. You may want to call your county’s medical society or a local hospital for referrals. Also, your insurance plan may list which doctors in your community are covered by your insurance.
6. Does a doctor have to release medical records to a patient?
Yes. A doctor does have to make a patient’s records available to the patient or to the patient’s representative with the patient’s written authorization. The doctor may charge up to 60 cents per page for photocopies of the records, and a reasonable fee for copies of X-rays and other health care records produced by similar processes.
7. What will happen if I file a complaint against a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist?
Your complaint must be in written form, and we will give you written confirmation of receipt of your complaint. As soon as we can, we will tell you what we’ve done about it. However, there is a formal procedure which must be completed:
Determine if the Board has Jurisdiction
First, we determine if the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners has jurisdiction in the matter. If so, the Board’s Investigative Committee will assign an investigator to get the facts. If we confirm a violation of the Nevada Medical Practice Act, the Board may file charges, and a doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist will be given a public hearing. The charges filed by the Board, and the formal decision of the Board after the hearing, are public record. Copies are available upon request.
If the Charges are Proven
The Board may suspend or revoke the license or place the doctor, physician assistant. practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist on probation. The Board can also order psychiatric treatment, additional education, passage of a competency examination or any other discipline provided by the Nevada Medical Practice Act.
If the Problem is Drugs or Alcohol
The Board can require the doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist to participate in treatment and keep him or her out of practice until the problem is under control.
8. How can I file a complaint with the Board?
Just call the office of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners in Reno at 775-688-2559 or 888-890-8210, toll-free from within the state of Nevada, press "0" and ask to be transferred to the Investigations Division. You may also go back to the home page of this website and click on File a Complaint.
9. How can I obtain copies of documents related to malpractice claims or disciplinary action against a licensee of the board?
Complete the Order Public Records form found in the "Patients & Consumers" section on this website and send to the Board office at 9600 Gateway Drive, Reno, NV 89521, together with your check, cashier's check or money order made payable to the "Nevada Board of Medical Examiners," or completed/signed "Credit Card Authorization Form," for the amount of pages you have requested.
OTHER STATE REGULATED HEALTH PROFESSIONS & THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING COMPLAINTS AGAINST A PHYSICIAN
1. How do I get a copy of my medical records?
The patient or the patient's representative must contact the doctor's office and request, in writing, a copy of the records. You may be charged up to .60 cents per page and a reasonable fee for copies of X-rays or other type of films. No additional administrative or handling fees may be charged. (NRS 629.061)
2. Why can't I have the originals of my medical records?
The law provides that the patient may receive copies of his/her records. A physician is required to keep your medical records as part of his regularly maintained records for five (5) years after their receipt or production. (NRS 629.061 and 629.051)
3. What if the doctor has closed his office and I can't find him, or he refuses to give me a copy of my records?
You then file a complaint against the doctor with us. First, we will attempt to solve the problem that day by contacting the doctor and arranging for the release of a copy of the records to you. If there is a continuing problem, we will open an investigation of the doctor.
4. Do I have to make a complaint in writing? Why can't I just tell you about it?
The written complaint is the basis of the investigation. It not only explains the allegation against the doctor, it also provides us with your contact information and other information we need to obtain the medical records and other documents needed to fully investigate.
5. How long does it take to do the investigation and what is the process?
If we have jurisdiction over the allegations you make in the complaint, we notify you in writing of the receipt of the complaint, the case number of the investigation, and we identify the Investigator doing the investigation. Depending on the complexity of the case, an investigation may take from four weeks to three months or more. The investigation is only the first phase of a four-phase process. After the initial investigation is complete the medical review phase starts. After the medical reviews are completed, a legal review is conducted. Then the fourth phase starts – the Investigative Committee review. Any one of the reviews can send the case back for further investigation before proceeding through the process again. The Investigative Committee meets only four times a year, usually in February, May, August and November. The Investigative Committee MUST review each case. This committee is comprised of members of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners and is the authority and decision making body over investigations. So, even though the initial investigation may be finished in four weeks, it must go through the process to its final conclusion.
6. May I have a copy of the doctor's response to the complaint?
No. The law provides that all investigations and records of investigations may be kept confidential. (Senate Bill 250, Section 57 (3) (c) and (4),2003 Legislative Session)
7. Is my complaint against a doctor public information?
Your complaint against a doctor is not public information (see question number 6, above) unless your complaint, through the investigative process, becomes a Formal Complaint initiated against the doctor by the Investigative Committee. When an investigation reaches that point, it is required that the formal complaint and the outcome of the formal complaint become public record.
8. Can a doctor sue me for making a complaint?
NRS 630.364 provides that any person or organization that provides the Board of Medical Examiners with information about a licensee (medical doctor, physician assistant, practitioner of respiratory care or perfusionist), without malicious intent, is immune from any civil action for furnishing that information.
9. May I appeal the decision of the Investigative Committee to close my case without the Committee making a formal complaint against the doctor?
No. The investigation, medical reviews, legal review and Investigative Committee review of your case constitute a very comprehensive process. On the average, three (3) separate medical doctors review the case and, depending on the complexity of the issues, an additional review may be conducted by a specialist in the medical field corresponding to the medical specialty involved in the complaint. In those cases where the Investigative Committee decides, on the basis on the evidence presented in this very comprehensive process, not to file a formal complaint against a doctor, the decision is final.
10. Can the Board help me resolve billing issues I have with my doctor?
No. The investigation of billing disputes, costs of services, and/or referrals by doctors of patients to a collection agency is not in the jurisdiction of the Board of Medical Examiners. The only exception to this is that the Board may investigate the allegation against a doctor for billing you for a service you did not receive (services not rendered).