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Medical licensing board safeguards patients, seeks fairness and transparency of regulatory process
e-Reports, March 18, 2013
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Once a month, members of the Medical Licensing Board (MLB) of Indiana meet with a mission: to protect patients. However, that process involves hearing complaints against physicians.

Dr. McGoff
John McGoff, M.D.

“I think we have the patient’s well-being in mind,” said John McGoff, M.D., who was recently appointed to the board. “We conduct hearings and discuss and enforce sanctions. In some respects, the board is both judge and jury. The responsibility can be overwhelming.”

Each case is first investigated by the Office of the Attorney General that determines if there is a violation involved. If so, the case goes before six physicians and one attorney.

Dr. McGoff noted all hearings are open to the public, making the process fair, impartial and transparent.

Board criteria
All members are appointed by the governor to serve a four-year term. By law, the board must consist of five physicians who:

  • Are graduates of a medical school
  • Hold the degree of doctor of medicine or its equivalent
  • Hold valid unlimited licenses to practice medicine in Indiana

Three ISMA members now serve on the MLB, including Worthe Holt, M.D., of Indianapolis.

Also, the board must include one osteopathic physician who:

  • Is a graduate of an accredited osteopathic medical school
  • Holds the degree of doctor of osteopathy or its equivalent
  • Holds a valid unlimited license to practice osteopathic medicine in Indiana

The seventh member is appointed to represent the general public.

Filing complaints
Any person can file a consumer complaint against a physician with the attorney general. If it is determined a violation has occurred, the case goes to the MLB.

Dr. Barai
Bharat Barai, M.D.

Last year, 531 consumer complaints were investigated.

“Physicians who practice good medicine have nothing to fear,” commented Bharat Barai, M.D.

Appointed in 2000, Dr. Barai noted that the board is not afraid to take action when necessary.

“The MLB cannot act as vigilantes. We are very fair but we have to follow the process,” he explained.

About 80 percent of the cases are related to drug and alcohol abuse; some involve inappropriate relationships with patients, according to Dr. Barai. Additionally, a few cases involve physicians seeking re-entry into the profession. 

Death registry citations
Indiana’s Death Registry System, which became law last year, tasks the MLB with enforcing compliance among physicians who sign death certificates. Last year, four citations were issued against physicians failing to certify deaths through the online system in a timely manner.

State law requires all death certificates to be electronically signed and submitted to the Indiana State Department of Health within five days after initiating the documentation process. Failure to comply can result in a non-disciplinary citation of up to $1,000, which is not reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

“Physicians can delegate an agent to complete most of the information,” explained Kristen Kelley, director of the MLB. “Then, the physician would just need to log in with the pin number to certify the death.”

To add or change a designee, call the help desk at (317) 233-7989 or email them.

Find more information about the MLB at in.gov.

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