Medical Board Officials Appear Before Legislature to Discuss Better Investigation Quality and FY01 Budget
The Chairman of the Board of Medical Examiners (BOMEX) appeared before a legislative audit committee and announced plans to boost the number of investigators working on cases during the next year and rely more heavily on the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) in the most complex cases.

The testimony given by Board Chairman Ram Krishna, MD, and Claudia Foutz, BOMEX Executive Director, also pointed to the cumbersome case adjudication process used by the Board as a source of delay in resolving patient complaints.  Foutz told legislators that the upcoming year would be a year full of refinements to this process, and that recommendations concerning one of the adjudication steps are due back to the Board within the month.

BOMEX officials also gave credit to last year’s sustained investment within the agency for a dramatic turnaround in investigation quality, disciplined doctor monitoring, and a fully appointed set of Board members.  Krishna noted that the Auditor General found the agency working with professionally written investigation procedures, interviewing each complainant and relevant witnesses, and answering every allegation made against the doctor.  “The Board has responded to demands made by elected officials to do a better job of investigating serious claims made by patients and their families.  In the past twelve months, we tackled that problem and found solutions, and the Auditor’s findings confirm our success.”

Legislators in a similar hearing one year ago asked the agency to do more to give public access to its information on doctor quality.  Foutz updated the audit committee with the news that, since last year, the Board had installed an in-state toll-free telephone line to promote more inquiries by citizens living outside of the Phoenix metro area.

She also said that more information about physicians is now available online, where patients may view an easy-to-read profile of the training and disciplinary record of every licensed physician.  “I’ve not taken my responsibilities to the public lightly,” Foutz said.  “We have new publications emerging monthly that answer the public’s questions about heathcare regulation and quality.  And our customers can get each and every one of these publications online if they choose.”