Association of American Physicians and Surgeons States Arizona Medical Board Problems Go Beyond Whistleblowers' Allegations

TUCSON, Ariz., Nov. 21, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Nov 20, the Joint Health and Human Services Committee of the Arizona legislature held a hearing on alleged violations of the law by former Arizona Medical Board (AMB) executive director Lisa Wynn and her deputy Amanda Diehl. The main issue was shortcuts in verifying credentials of doctors seeking licensure, noted the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

Whistleblowers who drew attention to violations of the law had been fired. After an investigation by Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens' Aide, the AMB narrowly voted to fire Wynn.

The Arizona State Chapter of AAPS issued the following statement to the legislature:

"Administrative agencies must be accountable and must abide by the law.

"The purpose of the Arizona Medical Board is to protect the public, not to gather points for Public Citizen based on number of punishments handed down, whether warranted or not; not to suppress competition and innovation; and not to supply revenue to contractors such as Affiliated Monitors, the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education (PACE) Program, and the Physicians Health Program.

"Contracts for these agencies need to be examined, and conflicts of interest investigated. Competitive bids should be sought.

"Problems with Board procedures and due process have included:

  • biased experts;
  • use of experts lacking qualifications in the appropriate specialty;
  • untruthful or incomplete reporting of expert opinions, with a prejudicial effect against the doctor;
  • toleration of incompetent staff work such as copying only one side of the medical record;
  • charging an accused physician an outrageous amount for a Board expert even though such experts are supposedly paid a very nominal amount;
  • focusing on differences of professional opinion involving no actual harm to patients rather than on episodes of clearly substandard practice involving actual, serious harm;
  • limited opportunity for physicians to present an adequate defense;
  • lack of recourse for physicians harmed by staff errors or untruthfulness;
  • tolerance for unethical, possibly criminal acts by staff (such as investigators' tampering with case files and witnesses);
  • failure to enforce term limits for AMB members.

"Physicians do not have confidence in the integrity or competence of the AMB. Formal referral to the attorney general's office for investigation is warranted not only in the interest of justice, but to restore public confidence. In addition, a meaningful oversight process needs to be established."

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943 to preserve private medicine and the patient-physician relationship.

CONTACT: Jane M. Orient, M.D. (520) 323-3110, janeorientmd@gmail.comSource:Association of American Physicians & Surgeons