I am often asked by physicians, if a disciplinary action taken by the Medical Board against their license will be available to the public. The answer is Yes. Under the Ohio Public Records law, R.C. 149.43, any official action taken by a governmental agency is a public record. http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/149.43
What does this mean? Prior to the internet, to obtain a public record from a governmental agency, a written request was required for the document. You can still do that today. Now, however, all Medical Board disciplinary actions are posted on the Medical Board’s website. Interested persons can go to the link on the Medical Board’s website to obtain information about a particular licensee, enter their name and they will be presented with a summary list of any discipline against that physician. A person can click on the “view documents” box (which is in bright yellow) and download the entire disciplinary record (copies of Citation letters, Consent Agreements, Adjudication Orders or any Court appeals documents). To find information about your medical license or to look up another physician, go to: https://license.ohio.gov/lookup/default.asp?division=78
Information about a medical diagnosis or medical condition that might have formed the basis of a disciplinary action is not redacted and is included in the public record. All the information, including any medical diagnosis, criminal conviction, boundary violation, the factual and legal basis for the action and the disciplinary action taken against the licensee is all included in the public record on the Medical Board’s website.
As a follow-up question, I am often asked whether the disciplinary action is taken off the website and out of the public record once the licensee completes any suspension or probation period. Unfortunately no. Once a disciplinary action is taken, it is on the professionals’ “permanent record” and will not be sealed, removed or redacted. Even in cases where the basis for the disciplinary action is a criminal action that has been sealed or expunged, the Medical Board is not required to seal or expunge any information available to the public.
The argument given for including all disciplinary actions of the Medical Board in the public record is that consumers should be able to know if their medical professional has been the subject of discipline by the Medical Board.
However, only proposed disciplinary actions and final actions (be it a Consent Agreement or Adjudication Order) are made public. Complaints submitted to the Medical Board and any Board investigations are confidential. Under R.C. 4731.22(F)(5), investigations of the Medical Board are confidential and are not open for public disclosure. However, this restriction also pertains to the licensee and their legal counsel. When a complaint is filed with the Medical Board, the licensee may be notified of the general nature of the complaint, but they will not be provided with a copy of the complaint or even given the name of the person who filed the complaint. This rule however does not prevent the Medical Board from sharing any part of its investigation with other governmental agencies such as a police department or another Board.
As always, if you have any questions about this post or would like me address a particular question, feel free to email me at Beth@collislaw.com or call me at 614-486-3909.