New Corrective Action Option
by Linda Close, Assistant Attorney General
Former Manager of the Health Licensing Division
The 1993 Legislature enacted a law that gives the Board of Medical Practice an additional tool for resolving complaints against health professionals regulated by the Board. The new tool is an agreement for corrective action, which is a contract between a licensee or registrant and the Complaint Review Committee. A corrective action agreement differs from a disciplinary order of the Board in several respects.
First, corrective action resolves a complaint without imposing discipline. The health-related licensing boards jointly sought authority for corrective action as a means of dealing with less serious infractions of their respective practice acts. Corrective action permits the board to take action short of discipline.
Second, corrective action is not discipline. That means it is not subject to the publication requirement and will not be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. The Board will not include information about corrective actions in its legislatively-mandated press releases about disciplinary actions. On request, the public (including the press) may see and review corrective action agreements, however, because they are public documents.
Third, an agreement for corrective action is a contract between the Complaint Review Committee and the licensee or registrant. The Board does not act on the agreement at all. The Board of Medical Practice has requested the Complaint Review Committees to provide it with periodic reports on corrective action agreements, but no Board action is required to make such an agreement effective.
Finally, when a licensee or registrant successfully completes the terms of a corrective action agreement, the Complaint Review Committee will dismiss the complaint on which the agreement was based.
What kind of complaints may be resolved through corrective action agreements? Corrective action will be used for less serious violations. The Committees would not resolve a case involving sexual misconduct or other conduct that harms a patient, for example, through corrective action. Corrective action is not intended as a substitute for disciplinary action. When a physician engages in conduct as a result of ignorance or lack of knowledge, on the other hand, the Committee may use a corrective action agreement to require the licensee or registrant to undergo education.
Cases that, in the past, resulted in disciplinary order may be candidates for corrective action. Cases that were formerly dismissed after an informal directive that the licensee or registrant fulfill educational requirements, on the other hand, could also be candidates for a written agreement for corrective action. As in the past, the Complaint Review Committee will devise remedies on a case-by-case basis, taking care to impose requirements fairly and consistently according to the seriousness of the complaint. Corrective action is an evolving concept, the parameters of which will be established over time.
Source: Minnesota Board of Medical Practice Update Newsletter, Winter 1994