Local News

Legislation Grants More Power To State Medical Board

Posted July 11, 2006 5:31 a.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Medical Board oversees every health care provider in the state. It's a big job, which can potentially have a huge impact.

The board recently sanctioned a Charlotte doctor for the way he diagnosed and treated patients for Lyme Disease. They also considered how to oversee laser hair removal after the death of an North Carolina State student from a lidocaine overdose. The board has a great deal of responsibility, and now, thanks to House Bill 1301, more power.

"I'm quite certain also that board members themselves, during hearings or in considering what to do with cases, have felt like their hands were tied because of the limitations under the law," said board attorney Thom Mansfield.

Under current law, the board can only take away a doctor's license. But under the new law they have a variety of remedies, including publicly reprimanding a doctor and requiring more training.

"We've removed some of those limitations so they will be able to act more swiftly, more decisively, and with greater confidence when they see patient safety threatened," said Mansfield.

So what does this mean to the patient? Supporters said it means when they walk into an exam room, they will receive the best possible care. And if that doesn't happen, the doctor could receive serious sanctions.

The board helped author and lobby for the legislation, which was supported by more than 11,000 doctors.

"It's actually going to be a self-initiated strengthening of the Medical Board, and I think that patient safety is going to be the real benefit that North Carolinians will see from this legislation," said Rep. Lucy Allen, D-Franklin.

The bill also requires insurance companies to give the board information about malpractice lawsuits. In addition, it requires the board to work with law enforcement agencies and share information if a health care provider is involved in criminal activity.