South Carolina may post charges against doctors

Proposed changes to the medical practice act would allow the public online access to this information.

By Damon Adams — Posted March 21, 2005

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The South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners has approved a plan to make formal charges against doctors available to the public, although necessary legislative approval might not come until next year.

Currently, board proceedings are kept secret until the board takes final action concerning a complaint. The new plan would allow the board to inform the public about a case when the board formally charges a physician.

At press time, the South Carolina Medical Assn. had no comment. The society previously objected to disclosure of complaints against doctors via the board's Web site because complaints could be found unmerited. "We're evaluating the new regulations," said association President John Evans, MD, a hand surgeon in Greenville, S.C.

On March 1, the board approved proposed changes to the state's Medical Practice Act, which governs how doctors are licensed and disciplined. If state lawmakers approve the changes, the board would make it publicly known when charges are brought against a physician. No details about the investigation would be released until the board takes final action in a case.

The proposed changes also call for allowing the board to conduct criminal background checks of new applicants for medical licenses and of doctors being investigated for possible discipline. Medical society leaders said the association favored that part of the measure and saw it as a way to further protect the public.

Another change would require doctors from outside the state to get a special temporary license to testify as an expert medical witness in an administrative, civil or criminal proceeding.

The board is seeking a state lawmaker to sponsor a bill with the changes. The Legislature probably won't consider the proposal until next year, the second half of the session.

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