Medical Board Investigators Carry Guns Now?

I recently learned that Ohio Medical Board investigators now carry hand guns while on the job. I had heard that the Board was considering allowing their investigators to carry firearms, but recently I learned first hand that an investigator had entered a private medical practice carrying a firearm.  I find this practice intimidating and unnecessary.

Isn’t it intimidating enough when an investigator appears in the medical office or hospital, often unannounced, flashes his credentials and demands to speak with the physician (who is most often seeing patients) and then requests to immediately see and take original patient files? My question is, why must they also carry a firearm?

I went back to the Board’s minutes to review the Board members’ rationale for this decision. In August 2011, the Board reviewed the issue of investigator safety. Of course, I found that this new aggressive move by the Board comes down to the heightened investigation of pain clinics in Ohio. The argument was that pain clinic waiting rooms may be filled with patients, who may be also carrying weapons.  The Board members were advised, on occasion, investigators were confronted with people hanging around the parking lots and “drinking alcohol” and on one occasion an investigator’s car was blocked by another car and they could not leave the parking lot. http://www.med.ohio.gov/pdf/Minutes/2011/08-11minutes.pdf

Based on concern for the safety of the investigators, the Board members approved a policy that would require investigators to undergo a minimum of 40 hours of training at the Ohio Peace Officers Academy and obtain re-certification annually.

I would never want to put the lives or safety of the Medical Board investigators at risk. However, we have a trained police force available in Ohio that investigators can call at any time for assistance. In addition, if the investigator has reason to believe that they are going into a dangerous area, they can always alert the local police in advance and even have an officer accompany them to their appointment. However, to allow an administrative board investigator to carry a firearm after simply 40 hours of training into all medical offices for all appointments is intimidating and unnecessary for the overwhelming majority of investigations conducted.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the State Medical Board in general, please feel free to contact me at beth@collislaw.com or call me at 614-486-3909.