Ohio Courts will not reverse Medical Board decisions if the sanction seems too harsh

I recently read of a Medical Board disciplinary matter in the State of Illinois, in which the Illinois Medical Board revoked a physician’s medical license for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient. Then, the Illinois Appeals court reversed the decision and sent the case back to the Illinois Board to issue an alternative sanction after finding the sanction was “overly severe” given the physician’s conduct. William Joel Kafin v. The Division of Professional Regulation of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.   I was struck by this case, as this would never happen in Ohio.

In Ohio, under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 119, decisions of the State Medical Board can be appealed to the Franklin County Courts. The Court will then determine if the decision of the Board was based on reliable, probative and substantial evidence and is in accordance with law. Pons v. Ohio St. Med. Bd., 66 Ohio St.3rd 619, 621. However, case-law exists in Ohio that the Courts will not reverse a decision of the Medical Board purely on the belief that the sanction is too harsh. Henry’s Cafe, Inc. v. Bd. of Liquor Control, (1950), 170 Ohio St.233. Even if the evidence is clear that the Ohio Medical Board imposed a sanction that was different or harsher than was imposed in other similarly situated cases, the Courts still not reverse a Medical Board decision.

The only way to obtain relief from a Medical Board decision by the Courts is to show that the Board based its decision on evidence that was contrary to law or was not reliable, probative or substantial. While it is not unheard of to have a Medical Board decision reversed by the Court, it is certainly an uphill battle.

It is the intent of Ohio administrative procedure law that state agencies be given the authority to regulate others in their profession. Arlen v. State Med. Bd (1980), 61 Ohio St.2d 168. Therefore, if a physician is issued a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing (citation letter), it is important to put your best case forward at the administrative hearing before the Medical Board.  The Court will rarely disturb the final decision of the Medical Board.  Unlike Illinois, Ohio courts will not reverse a Medical Board decision because the Court thinks the sanction is too harsh.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the State Medical Board of Ohio in general, please feel free to email me at beth@collislaw.com or call me at (614) 486-3909 or see our firm website at www.collislaw.com.

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