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MEB takes complaints seriously; physicians should too

Wisconsin’s physicians provide health care that’s consistently ranked among the best in the nation. This does NOT mean that all physicians are immune from the state’s Medical Examining Board (MEB) taking action against a physician’s license. The system is complaint-based, and the MEB’s investigators take every complaint seriously. Physicians should therefore be just as serious if a complaint is filed and an MEB case is opened.

If a physician has the misfortune of having a complaint filed against him or her, the Wisconsin Medical Society recommends that you take at least these three important steps:

  1. React. Regardless of what you think of the merits of the complaint, it is important that you thoroughly review the complaint, take the complaint seriously and properly respond in a timely manner to any requests made by the MEB. Failing to cooperate with the MEB’s investigation of a complaint in a timely manner is in itself considered unprofessional conduct and may result in disciplinary action by the MEB. See Med. 10.03 (3) (g). There is a rebuttable presumption that a physician taking longer than 30 days to respond has not acted in a timely manner.
  2. Consult. Consult an attorney experienced in handling matters before the MEB prior to responding to any request by the MEB. Your personal or business attorney may be great, but he or she is not always the right person to represent you in these circumstances.

    1. Contact your professional liability insurer and tell them that you have received notice that a complaint has been filed against you with the MEB. Many professional liability insurers will assign an attorney with experience in handling matters before the MEB to represent you.
    2. Members of the Society have access to the Society’s list of private health care attorneys*. Numerous attorneys on this list have experience representing physicians in MEB-related matters. Members can access the Society’s list of private health care attorneys on the Society’s website (member log-in required) or by contacting the Society at 866-442-3800.
  3. Report. If an action is taken by the MEB (e.g., restriction on license, suspension of license, revocation of license) the physician may be obligated to report the action to other entities or parties. Entities that a physician may be required to report to include, but are not limited to, other medical licensing boards, the Drug Enforcement Agency, credentialing and certifying bodies and insurers (those that they hold insurance with and those that they contract with). Reporting obligations can continue throughout a physician’s career. For example, physicians are often asked whether any adverse action has been taken against his or her license when applying for licensure, employment, hospital privileges, specialty certification and preferred or in-network provider status.

Any adverse action by the MEB (or any other licensing or credentialing body) against a physician’s authority to practice medicine without limitation may affect a physician’s career in many ways, including but not limited to, increasing professional liability insurance premiums, non-renewal of professional liability insurance, placement of restrictions on or the revocation of hospital privileges, loss of contracted/preferred provider status, drop in professional ratings, termination of current employment and difficulty in obtaining future employment.

Members who have questions about the MEB or MEB investigations can call 866.442.3800 and ask to speak to a representative of the Society’s Government and Legal Affairs Department for more information.

*(Member log-in is required to access the private attorney list. Click here to access the log-in page. Additional member log-in information is here.)


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