- What information does the board give the public about North Dakota physicians and physician assistants?
The board provides the public with the status of a physician's or physician assistant's license; practice location; how long they have been licensed in North Dakota; and whether they have ever been disciplined by the board. For physicians, we also provide the name of their medical school and their practice specialty.
Beginning with physicians licensed in 2013, the board will also provide their postgraduate training, including all residency training and internships.
All of this can be accessed in the Public section of the board's website by clicking "Find a Practitioner/Verify a License".
- How do I know if my doctor or a doctor I am considering seeing has been disciplined by the board?
On the board's home page, under the Public section, click "Find a Practitioner/Verify License Status". There, you can search for a physician or physician assistant by last name or even part of a last name.
If the physician or physician assistant has been disciplined, it will say so and, for cases since 2012, provide all public disciplinary documents that you can read online or download and print.
- Does the board provide malpractice information?
No. Medical malpractice settlements and judgments are reported by insurance companies to the North Dakota Insurance Department, which provides reports to the public upon request. Typically, there is no charge for this information. The Insurance Department may be contacted at 701.328.2440 or toll-free at 800.247.0560.
- How do I file a complaint with the Board about a doctor or physician assistant?
You may file a complaint by going to "File a Complaint" under the Public section of the board's home page. You may download a written complaint form that may be faxed or mailed to the board office.
- May I just file a complaint over the telephone?
No. Putting the complaint in writing assures that we accurately convey your complaint, rather than putting it into our own words. Also, putting the complaint in writing protects you from any charge that you filed the complaint in bad faith, as it is an exact record of what you stated, recorded in your own words.
- Do I have to sign my name to the complaint? Can't I just do it anonymously?
The board strongly discourages anonymous complaints. It makes it just about impossible to investigate and prove a case without the most important witness to what happened. Therefore, in most cases, we require complaints to be signed.
- Can I file a complaint on behalf of someone else, such as my children or my parents?
Yes. Anyone may file a complaint if he or she has reason to believe a physician or physician assistant has violated the state's medical practice law.
You may find the grounds for taking action against a physician by going to our home page and, in "About the Board" section, clicking "Laws and Regulations" and then the link for the North Dakota Century Code. The disciplinary grounds are found at 43-17-31.
You may find the grounds for taking action against a physician assistant under "Laws and Regulations" and then the link for the North Dakota Administrative Code. Click "Physician Assistants and Technicians">"Physician Assistants" and go to section 50-03-01-11, Grounds for Disciplinary Action.
- Is there a time limit for filing a complaint?
No, but it is sometimes very difficult to investigate an incident that happened years before. The board encourages you to file a complaint as soon as you feel you have a basis for doing so.
- What happens after I file a complaint?
Usually, a board staff member will call you within a day or two of the receipt of your complaint to acknowledge its receipt and to make sure we understand all we can about it. You will also receive a letter within a few days outlining the investigative process.
The complaint then will be served on the physician or physician assistant named in your complaint, asking for a response.
When the response is received, the case then will be investigated by seeking appropriate medical records and talking to appropriate witnesses.
The matter will be reviewed by an investigative panel of the board and a decision made to formally charge the physician or physician assistant, dismiss the complaint, or send the physician or physician a confidential letter of concern.
You will be notified when the panel makes its decision, usually at the next scheduled board meeting which occurs three times per year, in March, July and November.
- What can the board do to a physician if it finds my complaint is valid?
If the board finds a physician or physician assistant has violated the state's medical practice act, it has the authority take any appropriate action against a physician's or physician assistant's license to practice in North Dakota that is necessary to keep the public safe.
This can include revoking the license, restricting it, or placing conditions on the continued practice of medicine.
- What are the actions the board cannot take even if it finds my complaint to be valid?
Even if the board agrees that your complaint is valid and a physician or physician assistant has violated the state's medical practice act, it cannot
- Award money damages
- Forgive physician or hospital bills
- Represent you in any action against a physician
- Force a physician to provide different or further treatment to you
- If the board dismisses my complaint, can the doctor sue me?
- No. State law protects anyone filing a complaint with the board, provided the complaint is filed in "good faith". That means you are protected even if your allegations are wrong, as long as they are not an intentional lie.
- Will my complaint and name be made public?
No. Under state law, complaints filed by members of the public are confidential, as are physician responses and all investigative material of the board. This is done to protect the privacy of the patient-physician relationship.
When an investigative panel of the board brings a formal action against a physician or physician assistant, all pleadings and hearings are then open to the public, and any order of discipline is posted on our website under the physician or physician assistant's disciplinary history. But even in public, disciplinary cases, neither the original complaint nor the name of the patient involved are revealed.
- My doctor wants to charge me for my medical records. Can she do that?
A physician incurs costs in storing and duplicating records and may charge a reasonable fee for copies of your medical records. Under North Dakota law, a health care provider may charge $20.00 for the first 25 pages and .75 per page for each additional page.
- Can I be charged just to look at my medical records?
No, your health care provider may not charge you for inspecting your records.
- Can I make my doctor change my medical record if I feel it contains incorrect information?
No, you cannot make a health care provider delete or change your medical record or change a diagnosis. Under HIPAA, you do have a right to request that additional information be added to your medical record to clarify it. If your provider refuses to add information because he or she believes the record to be accurate, you have a right to provide limited written information and have it added to your medical record.
- Can a physician refuse to see me as a patient?
Yes. With the exception of certain emergent situations, there is no legal obligation on a physician to take anyone as a patient.
- Can a physician stop seeing me if I am a current patient?
Yes, a physician may terminate a patient-physician relationship, but must provide notice of the intention to do so and assist the patient in obtaining alternate care.
- Can I change physicians if I choose?
Yes, subject to any requirements that might exist with regard to preferred provider networks by a specific insurance policy, it is completely up to the patient to choose the physician they want to see, or to change physicians if they choose.