Thursday, August 4, 2011

Arizona Board Of Medicine May Lack Experts Qualified to Judge Pot Docs

In a June 7, 2011 post, I reported on Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Director Will Humble's promise to report what ADHS judged to be unprofessional conduct by certifying physicians to the physician's appropriate licensing board.

As of now, that may be a futile gesture.  In a recent report by the Arizona Office of the Auditor General, one of those licensing boards, the Arizona Board of Medicine, reported that it expected to get an increase in complaints because of ADHS referrals of doctors who are not following ADHS rules.

The Board of Medicine expects to have "challenges" in handling these complaints.  That's because the way the Board of Medicine reviews complaints is by having staff doctors and hired consultants to review the case and determine whether the doctor's conduct met the professional standard of care. 

The staff doctors and consultants have to be qualified in the type of care at issue to judge the work of the doctor being investigated.  Because medical marijuana is an "emerging" practice area, the Board of Medicine is concerned that it may have a shortage of qualified consultants available to conduct the professional conduct investigations of pot docs.

That conclusion surfaced in the auditor's report, of which the overall finding was that the Arizona Board of Medicine needed to "improve staff doctor and medical consultant selection, medical consultant training, and problem resolution practices."

That doesn't give Arizona employers a lot of confidence that the Board of Medicine is going to be effective at keeping the word "medical" the prominent focus under the AMMA.

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