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DATE: 9/10/2007
Medical Board Adopts Aggressive Agenda For the Coming Year

Scottsdale, Ariz. - At its annual offsite strategy meeting in Tucson, the Arizona Medical Board adopted an aggressive agenda for the coming year. Board Members decided to undertake a number of difficult, but emerging issues, such as the use of complementary and alternative medicine, physicians who expand their original scope of practice, and facilitating multi-state practice of medicine and license portability.

The Board adopted guidelines for MD‘s who incorporate or use Complementary or Alternative Medicine (CAM) in their practices. CAM refers to a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches and therapies that mainstream conventional medicine does not commonly use. Some of the more familiar CAM practices are acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, and therapeutic massage.

The new guidelines are to assist physicians to use CAM in a manner that is consistent with the Arizona Medical Board‘s expectations for the safe practice of medicine and to inform the public of CAM and its legitimate use in our state. The Board emphasizes that it does not prohibit CAM but wants to ensure that physicians use CAM safely. The guidelines apply to all allopathic physicians (MD‘s) whether using CAM or not. The guidelines make it clear that the standard of care for physicians is the same whether using conventional medicine or CAM.

The Arizona Medical Board also established a committee to develop guidelines on the Physicians' Scope of Practice. Recently, cases have arisen concerning physicians practicing outside the scope of their original formal training. Legally, a physician‘s scope of practice is unlimited, however, they must be trained, qualified and competent to perform medical procedures before they engage in a particular practice or field of medicine. All formal training requirements in medical school and post-graduate training must meet professional standards and are heavily regulated and scrutinized. The Board will consider guidelines for physicians who want to broaden their scopes of practice beyond their formal training.

The Board also instructed its staff to: develop guidelines on Pre-operative and Post-operative Ophthalmic Care; draft a Position Statement on wrong-site/wrong-level surgery in regards to physician responsibility; prepare a Substantive Policy Statement on the duty of physicians and hospitals to report physicians who may be incompetent or who may have committed unprofessional conduct; and draft language for a statutory change that would allow qualified immunity for facilities and individuals who provide physician evaluations at the Board‘s request; and investigate possible Telemedicine, Consultation licenses to facilitate the multi-state practice of medicine.

The Medical Board also formed a committee to expand the Physician Health Program (PHP). The committee will first consider the scope and breadth of a PHP and whether it should include other professionals and hospitals. And, the Board approved the implementation of an on-line test for physicians to complete on the Arizona Medical Practice Act which contains the statutes outlining unprofessional conduct.

N. Stacy Lankford, M.D., Chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and James N. Thompson, M.D., President/CEO of the FSMB provided Board Members with an update on the comprehensive review of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE), license portability, and continued competence of licensed physicians.