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What standard do disciplinary boards use in medical license hearings?

The practice of medicine is incredibly complex, with many things that can go wrong. One of the worst nightmares of any medical professional is to receive a letter informing them that they are being investigated by their state’s medical disciplinary board. If you have an upcoming disciplinary hearing and want to know what to expect when preparing your defense, it’s important to know the standard that the board will use to decide your case.

The hearing process

The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice is the body responsible for initiating disciplinary hearings against medical professionals in Minnesota. If the board decides to call you to a disciplinary hearing, they will first serve you with a statement of issues. This is a summary of their charges against you, including the rules you allegedly violated.

They will also send you a notice of hearing, informing you of the time and place of the hearing. This gives you time to hire an attorney and prepare your defense, because you will be allowed to present evidence in your favor and present arguments as to why you did not violate the rule, or why you do not deserve the punishments the board proposes.

The standard the board uses

After the board hears all of the arguments and evaluates all of the evidence both for and against you, they will make a final decision on whether or not to suspend or revoke your license.

Ultimately, the standard they will use depends upon the offense you allegedly committed. For example, if they allege that you acted negligently in your practice, they will use the “minimal standard of acceptable and prevailing medical practice” standard.

This means that the board will compare your conduct with the conduct of a hypothetical average person in your profession who is following the generally accepted standard of medical care. If, after examining the evidence, they find that your conduct fell below that standard, they could order disciplinary measures – depending upon how far below the standard your conduct supposedly fell.

An important thing to note is that a patient does not need to suffer any type of harm in order for the board to allege a violation of Minnesota’s rules. Thus, even if the board can’t prove any actual harm done, they could still punish you if they hold that your conduct fell below the minimal standard of acceptable practice.

Receiving a disciplinary hearing isn’t the end of the world. You will have a chance to hire an attorney and present your defense, and you will have the chance to appeal the board’s final decision if you desire.