Discipline Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I file a complaint against a licensee?
The Board is composed of six physicians, one physician assistant, and three public representatives, all of whom are appointed by the governor. They are committed to protecting the health, welfare, and safety of the public by licensing only competent and qualified physicians and physician assistants, and investigating concerns raised by both the public and other credentialing/licensing agencies about licensee conduct. The Board has taken many actions regarding its licensees, including both non-disciplinary and disciplinary actions. For a list of disciplinary actions see the Board’s adverse actions page (Click here to view Adverse Actions). Investigating complaints and taking corrective measures is one way that the Board protects the public.
What types of individuals/entities does the Board have authority to investigate?
The Board licenses medical doctors (MD) and physician assistants (PA), and may only investigate matters related to specific individual MDs or PAs who are or were licensed by the Board. It is not permitted by law to investigate clinics, home healthcare entities, health centers or hospitals, osteopathic physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, dentists, nurses, or physical therapists. If you wish to file a complaint against a hospital/clinic/home healthcare entity/health center or other licensed healthcare professional, please follow the links below:
- Hospitals/clinics/home health care entities: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/dlc/complaint/index.shtml
- Nursing Home Administrators Licensing Board: https://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/nursing_home/license_types.html
- Board of Osteopathic Licensure: https://www.maine.gov/osteo/
- Board of Licensure of Podiatric Medicine: https://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/podiatrists/index.html
- Board of Chiropractic Licensure: https://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/chiropractors/index.html
- Board of Complimentary Healthcare Providers: https://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/complementary/naturopathic_doctor.html
- Board of Dental Practice: https://www.maine.gov/dental/
- Board of Nursing: https://www.maine.gov/boardofnursing/
Can I file a complaint against a physician or physician assistant who works at a Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital?
If the physician or physician assistant is licensed by the Board, then you may file a complaint with the Board. Physicians and physician assistants who work at a VA hospital are required to hold a valid license in at least one state, so are not necessarily licensed with the Board. You may verify whether a physician or physician assistant is licensed by the Board by going to the following link: https://www.pfr.maine.gov/ALMSOnline/ALMSQuery/SearchIndividual.aspx?Board=376
If you have a concern about the care that you received from a physician or physician assistant who works at a VA and is not licensed by the Board, you may contact the VA at: https://www.va.gov/health/patientadvocate/. In addition, you may file a complaint against the physician or physician assistant in the state in which he/she holds a license. Click here to go to http://www.docinfo.org/ to determine in which state(s) the physician or physician assistant is licensed. This is a search engine hosted by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) using information provided by all states.
What kind of things can I complain about?
The Board may only discipline licensees for violating its statutes or rules. Grounds for discipline include:
- Impairment of ability to practice due to substance misuse or due to a physical or mental illness
- Fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in the practice of medicine
- Unprofessional conduct
- Conviction of certain crimes
- Inappropriate prescribing
- Sexual misconduct
- Violation of any Board rule
- Billing disputes
- Insurance issues
- Disputes about disability compensation or insurance reimbursement
- Requests for monetary compensation
- Requests for assistance with medical malpractice lawsuits
May I file a complaint on behalf of a patient?
Yes. Anyone may file a complaint. However, you will not receive a copy of the licensee’s response or the patient’s medical records unless you are the patient’s “personal representative” and authorized to access the patient’s medical information. Maine law defines “personal representative” to include:
- A patient’s legal guardian as appointed by a court
- A patient’s agent under a power of attorney for health care
- A patient’s agent under a durable power of attorney that includes the authority to make healthcare decisions
- A deceased patient’s personal representative as appointed by the Probate Court
- A minor patient’s parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem
The Board is unable to assist you in becoming a personal representative. You can consult an attorney about obtaining a power of attorney form or becoming a personal representative or guardian. More information regarding legal guardianship through the court system may be found at:
- State of Maine Judicial Branch: http://www.courts.maine.gov/citizen_help/probate_matters.html
- Maine Probate Court: https://www.maineprobate.net/welcome/
- Maine Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aps-guardianship/guardianship.html
The Board does not have power of attorney forms. However, power of attorney for health care forms may be obtained from the following:
- The Maine Hospital Association: http://www.themha.org/policy-advocacy/Issues/End-of-Life-Care/advdirectivesform.aspx
- The Maine Medical Association: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aps-guardianship/documents/advdirectivesform.pdf
- Maine Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/oads/aps-guardianship/documents/advdirectivesform.pdf
Can I file an anonymous complaint?
The Board strongly discourages anonymous complaints. Anonymous complaints are difficult to investigate, and requests for your identity to remain confidential will not necessarily be honored. However, there are instances where the Board may initiate its own complaint if sufficient evidence of misconduct is provided in an anonymous complaint and it is corroborated by other independently obtained evidence.
What information do I need to include in my complaint?
Complaints must be written or submitted online. Either way, there is basic information that is required with your complaint:
- Name of the physician or physician assistant
- Name and contact information of the individual filing the complaint
- The patient’s name, date or birth, mailing address and telephone number
- A description of the actions or inactions prompting the complaint, including the location where it occurred
- The approximate dates for the actions/inactions prompting the complaint
How do I file a complaint against a Medical Doctor (MD) or Physician Assistant (PA)?
What happens after my complaint is filed? What is the Board’s complaint process?
- Upon receipt of a complaint, the Board assigns a number to track it.
- The Board sends a copy of the complaint to the licensee.
- The licensee must respond in writing to the complaint within thirty days, unless the licensee requests and is granted an extension for good cause.
- Upon receipt of the response, the Board sends a copy of the licensee’s response to the complainant unless:
- It determines that providing the response would be detrimental to the health of the complainant; or
- It determines that the complainant is not a “personal representative” of the patient and not entitled to access the patient’s medical information.
- The complainant, if entitled to receive the licensee’s response, may submit a reply to the Board within ten days.
- During the course of the investigation, the Board obtains the medical and other records relevant to the investigation, and may conduct interviews.
- Once the investigation is complete, the complaint is reviewed by the Board at one of its regularly scheduled monthly meetings. Following review, the Board may take any of the actions described below, request additional investigation, or schedule the matter for an Informal Conference.
What is an Informal Conference?
An Informal Conference is a means by which the Board gathers additional information and clarification about a complaint. It is a meeting with the licensee and the complainant (if he/she chooses to attend), during which the Board members question the licensee and complainant regarding issues related to the complaint. During an Informal Conference, the licensee may be represented by legal counsel, and the complainant may be accompanied by two individuals, including legal counsel. The law requires Informal Conferences to be closed to the general public, and statements made during an Informal Conference are confidential.
What happens after an Informal Conference?
The Board takes further action regarding the complaint (please see below).
How long does the complaint process take?
There is no set time limit. The length of the review process varies with the complexity of the complaint and the specific investigative requirements of the complaint. Some complaints are processed quickly, while others may take months. However, the Board strives to conduct an initial review of the complaint within 90 days of receiving it.
What are the possible outcomes of my complaint?
- Dismissal as no violation of Board statutes or rules
- Dismissal with a Letter of Guidance or Concern (non-disciplinary)
- Disciplinary Action
May I be present when the Board reviews my complaint?
Yes. The monthly meetings of the Board are open to the public. A certain portion of the meetings are dedicated to reviewing complaints. However, here are a number of important things to know:
- Complaints are confidential during the investigative process, and licensee names are not used during the Board review
- The medical information reviewed by the Board is confidential, and patient names are not used during the Board review
- The Board uses the complaint number when referring to a specific complaint
- The complainant and licensee may be present and listen to the Board's discussion during review, but the law does not permit them to participate in any way
- Each of the Board members is provided with a copy of the complaint materials prior to the date it is scheduled for review
- Discussion of a particular complaint may be brief, depending on its nature and complexity
Will I be informed about the outcome of the complaint?
Yes. The Board will inform you in writing about the outcome of the complaint, even if you were not entitled to receive the licensee’s response or access the patient’s medical information.
If the Board dismisses the complaint, can I appeal that decision to a court?
You must consult with a private attorney regarding this issue as the Board is unable to provide legal advice.
If the Board dismisses the complaint, can I request that the Board reconsider its decision?
Yes. However, the Board will not reconsider its decision (or the complaint) unless new and relevant information regarding the complaint is provided to the Board with the request for reconsideration. The Board’s investigation and complaint process is designed to ensure that the Board has all relevant information regarding the complaint at the time it is reviewed. Therefore, reconsideration of a decision to dismiss (or the complaint) is extremely rare.
If the Board dismisses my complaint, can I provide consumer feedback?
Yes. You can submit your feedback to the Board’s Consumer Assistant Specialist, Savannah Okoronkwo at email@example.com, and it will be provided to the Board at the following month’s Board meeting. Although the Board appreciates, and reviews, all feedback it does not respond.
What is the Board’s disciplinary process?
If the Board determines that the complaint may involve violations of Board statutes or rules which should result in discipline, it may take any of the following actions:
- Schedule the complaint for an adjudicatory hearing before the Board
- Offer a consent agreement to the licensee
- Refer the complaint to the District Court
What is a consent agreement?
A consent agreement is a written agreement entered into between the Board, the licensee, and the Office of Attorney General that imposes discipline or adverse licensing action upon a licensee or applicant for licensure.
What is an adjudicatory hearing?
An adjudicatory hearing is similar to a trial that is conducted by the Board, which is generally open to the public (some portions may be closed to protect health care information). A hearing officer presides over the hearing and assists the Board. The licensee may be represented by an attorney or present his/her own case. The State is represented by an assistant attorney general who prosecutes the complaint. The hearing is similar to a civil trial: evidence, witnesses, and arguments are presented by both sides. At the conclusion of the hearing the Board determines if there is sufficient evidence that the licensee violated Board statutes or rules, and any discipline. If the Board finds the licensee did not commit any violations, the case will be dismissed or dismissed with a Letter of Guidance. If the Board finds the licensee committed one or more of the violations, it will determine what sanctions to impose.
What types of disciplinary action can the Board take?
The law provides the Board with the authority to impose a range of sanctions, which depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case and includes:
- Civil monetary penalty
- Additional medical education
- Probation with conditions
- License restriction(s)
- Loss or Denial of License
Can the Board provide me with monetary assistance?
No. The Board may discipline a licensee for violating its statutes or rules, but it cannot provide money nor order a licensee to pay money to a complainant to pay for any harm that was done.
Where can I find information on Doctors who have been disciplined?
Click here to go to our Adverse Actions page. An adverse licensing action may be either modifications or conditions attached to a license at the time it is issued or the discipline of an already existing license.
How can I check the licensing status of a Doctor licensed in Maine?
Click here to go to the https://www.pfr.maine.gov/ALMSOnline/ALMSQuery/SearchIndividual.aspx?Board=376. This is where you can search for a Physician or Physician Assistant by license or name.
How can I check the status of a Doctor licensed elsewhere in the US?
Click here to go to the AIM Nationwide Physician Search page. This has a search engine for all participating State Medical Boards and links to non-participating State Medical Boards.
Click here to go to http://www.docinfo.org/. This is a search engine hosted by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) using information provided by all states.
What if I have other questions about the Board of Licensure in Medicine's disciplinary processes that aren't answered here.
You can contact the Board's Consumer Assistant, Savannah Okoronkwo at (207)287-3608 or toll-free in Maine at 888-365-9964 during business hours.