Florida Board of Medicine Launches Interactive Website

The Florida Board of Medicine (BOM) has announced the launch of a new interactive website to improve communication with its constituents. The site will help inform applicants, licensees, and the public about the board's role and activities in regulating the practice of medicine.

The idea for the website evolved from the BOM's Communication, Education, and Information Committee, which was formed to identify proactive communications tools to highlight the work of the board. The Florida Department of Health's Division of Medical Quality Assurance subsequently established a workgroup for designing the website, and board member Brigitte Goersch, chair of the Communication, Education, and Information Committee, spearheaded the project.

“We understand the importance of sharing information with the citizens we serve, and we are committed to providing this as a resource,” Goersch said. “The new website offers clear and direct access to information about who we are and what we do as the Florida Board of Medicine.”

Content for the site was created through direct input from the BOM, along with members of the workgroup. Users will be able to access initial licensing forms, licensure renewal information, an online licensure verification tool to assist Floridians in taking an active role in their health by verifying the license of health care providers and public records of disciplinary history of Florida physicians.

The website also provides information on special licensing tools available to military families living in Florida.

For more information, visit www.flboardofmedicine.gov.

Source: Florida Department of Health news release, Dec. 21, 2012

Court Upholds License Suspension for Iowa Physician Who Violated Board Order

A district court judge in Iowa has upheld the Iowa Board of Medicine's order to suspend the medical license of a physician who was found to have repeatedly violated the terms of a board order.

Robert F. Tobin, MD, a 71-year-old Iowa-licensed physician who formerly practiced ophthalmology in Council Bluffs and Des Moines, asked the court to reverse the board's decision, dated March 29, 2012, in which he was sanctioned for violating a board order issued in 2010. The board determined he did not complete many terms of the order.

Dr. Tobin contended that he was in substantial compliance with the order, that the board's sanctions were unreasonable, and his due rights were violated by the deliberative process utilized by the board.

Judge Michael Huppert, in a ruling filed February 8, affirmed the board's decision and order in its entirety to suspend Dr. Tobin's medical license for at least six months, to assess a $10,000 civil penalty, and to publicly reprimand him. Dr. Tobin was also ordered to comply with an educational intervention plan, obtain a board-approved worksite monitor, implement a practice monitor and practice monitoring plan, and comply fully with terms of the 2010 order prior to seeking reinstatement of his license.

Source: Iowa Board of Medicine News Release, Feb. 15, 2013

State Medical Board of Ohio Report Details Impact of New Prescription Drug Abuse Efforts

A new, comprehensive effort to address prescription drug abuse in Ohio by bolstering the tools available to medical regulators is under way and having an impact in the state, according to the FY12 Annual Report of the State Medical Board of Ohio.

In 2011 and 2012, the board worked closely with Ohio Governor John Kasich on what it called “aggressive efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse.” The passage of HB93 by the state legislature in 2011 gave the board new tools, particularly its ability to address drug diversion by “pill mills” — pain management clinics that improperly prescribe opioids. The legislation made a major change to medical practice in the state by defining “pain management clinics” and requiring that they be owned by licensed physicians.

The opioid prescribing initiative in Ohio included strengthening the state's prescription monitoring program, requiring pain management clinic inspections, and giving the board new investigative and disciplinary tools. Medical board investigators were authorized to inspect and copy any books, accounts, papers, records or documents in the course of an investigation, for example. The board was also authorized to take disciplinary action based upon administrative actions taken by other licensing boards.

The initiative also created a stronger interdisciplinary effort that better coordinated the activities of law enforcement, state agencies and licensing boards as they investigated opioid prescribing abuse. Board investigators, for example, were involved in all active drug task forces in the state. Board members worked closely with dental, pharmacy and nursing boards to prioritize cases and reduce overlapping efforts.

Classifying inappropriate prescribing cases as a high enforcement-priority, the board worked more aggressively to identify and pursue prescription abuses. Of the 190 disciplinary sanctions it issued in fiscal year 2012, 40 sanctions were based on inappropriate prescribing issues. Nineteen of the prescribing-based actions resulted in the revocation or permanent revocation of a physician's medical license.

Finally, the board's efforts included expanded educational outreach activities to make licensees more aware of its prescription abuse activities and to ensure they are more aware of proper prescribing practices. During fiscal year 2012 it worked with organizations such as the Ohio State Medical Association and the Ohio Hospital Association to provide educational programs for prescribers.

The report is available at www.med.ohio.gov.

Source: State Medical Board of Ohio FY12 Annual Report

Vermont Supreme Court Says Physician Not Liable for Improper Conduct of His Physician Assistant

The Vermont Supreme Court has upheld a 2012 decision by the Vermont Board of Medical Practice, which found that if a physician has supervised a physician assistant (PA) properly, the physician shouldn't be disciplined for the PA's improper conduct.

The original Vermont case involved a PA who improperly prescribed opiates. The State of Vermont had argued that the physician in the case, Jon Porter, MD, should have been held accountable for the PA's actions.

The case had caused discussion in the state of whether a ruling against the physician would make it difficult to find physicians willing to supervise PAs.

After discovering that a PA under his supervision was improperly prescribing opiates, Dr. Porter filed a complaint against him with the Vermont Board of Medical Practice. The board disciplined the PA. Later, the State of Vermont filed charges against Dr. Porter, alleging that he had “vicariously engaged” in unprofessional conduct in the case. The board held a hearing in January 2012 and dismissed the charges against Dr. Porter, saying he could not have been expected to be aware of the improper activities of the PA.

Source: American Medical News, Dec. 27, 2012

West Virginia Conference for Health Care Professionals Aimed at Prescribing Abuse

The West Virginia Board of Medicine partnered recently with the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine and the state's medical and osteopathic associations to host a conference aimed at raising awareness among West Virginia health care professionals of opioid prescribing issues.

The Controlled Substances Conference, held in Charleston on November 30, 2012, drew more than 300 physicians and related health care professionals.

Presentations and discussions focused upon the treatment of chronic pain, the issues resulting from the prescribing of opioids for such pain and recently enacted legislation and proposed legislative rules in West Virginia to combat opioid addiction and prescription drug abuse.

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin addressed attendees during the conference, encouraging continued action aimed at the state's opioid-abuse issue. Keynote speaker was Scott Fishman, MD, author of the book “Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Clinician's Guide.”

The conference satisfied proposed Continuing Medical Education requirements of both boards, which are mandated by the state's recently enacted prescription drug-abuse legislation. A second conference is now being considered for 2013.

Source: West Virginia Board of Medicine Quarterly Newsletter, Volume 16, Issue 4