ND speaking to patient

What to Consider with Board Responses

The most important thing to remember if you are notified of a board complaint is to contact your malpractice insurance company immediately. Many doctors believe they can talk to the board or “explain” what happened. Very rarely is that effective.

Boards are consumer protection agencies. They are not created to help or defend licensees; they are created to protect the public from dangerous doctors.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  1. Your response to a complaint is like a strong first impression and can significantly impact your case. However well or poorly written, the response will become part of your permanent record, along with the investigator’s notes regarding every conversation you had with them. Further, when you do not even know what the actual complaint is or the specific allegations are, it is folly to volunteer information. You are stressed and nervous and not the best filter of the information you share.
  2. The board is not limited to the allegations in the initial complaint. If they review what you submit and find additional violations, they can and will pursue those violations as well. For example, there have been cases where sexual boundary violations were alleged, but the licensee was disciplined for record and imaging study violations.
  3. Malpractice cases are often filed by the subject patient in a board complaint and in many instances, attorneys representing the patient have originated the complaint to flush out some of the negligence issues. Depending on the state you are in, the board determinations may not be admissible in a civil case, but board final orders are public and can have a significant influence on how a malpractice case is viewed.

It is essential that you remember that board complaints impact your license and any discipline will stay on your record forever. This is your livelihood! Make sure to take the right steps—including notifying your malpractice insurer immediately upon being notified of a board complaint. 

About the Author

Adina Matasaru, principal at Matasaru Law, PC, is an experienced attorney representing clients in complex malpractice defense and prevention, medical ethics and professional license defense. Matasaru has represented naturopathic physicians for more 17 years and is dedicated to the expansion and protection of the profession. She frequently volunteers as a speaker on risk management and medical ethics and advises various alternative healthcare institutions and associations. She is vice chair of the NUNM board of directors. Rebecca Tobias, senior paralegal at Matasaru Law, provided invaluable assistance

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