The Washington Medical Commission held its meeting on February 27-28, 2020 and it will not conduct a meeting in March.
Its packet materials identify three primary areas that relate to licensure matters, specifically statistics about performance of conducting investigations and case disposition, guidelines on processing complaints against WPHP participants, and draft procedure in processing complaint against medical students, residents and fellows.
The Commission’s performance statistics show that it has increased the percentage of cases in which the investigation step is completed within 170 days from 37.10% a year ago to 85.11% as of last month—this is a noticeable improvement to comply with the WAC. However, it has dropped off from 86.17% of cases a year ago that were being disposed of within 140 days to 75.76% last month.
In its guidelines on processing complaints against WPHP participants, the Commission acknowledges that relapse by itself is not an indication that a licensee is not capable of practicing medicine safely and confirms that WPHP is in a better position to make this determination, which is a more hands-off role than NQAC has taken. The point of this guideline is to “help ensure consistency and fairness in decision making in these cases.” It seems that being able to rely on prior discipline orders as precedent would achieve a similar result, rather than letting the agency impose discipline based on its shifting institutional knowledge at any given time and subjective judgment of panel/commission members.
The Commission emphasized individuals enrolled in WPHP should still be held accountable for actions involving patient harm, risk of harm to the patient or public [DUIs], acts of moral turpitude or dishonesty, and engaging in criminal activity whether convicted or not, putting aside impairment.
In its draft procedure in processing complaint against medical students, residents and fellows, the Commission focused on whether a resident or fellow engaged in reckless behavior or gross misconduct. In which case it will investigate the resident or fellow but may also open an investigation against the attending physician, and not simply refer the matter to the dean of the medical school. If it involves a breach of the standard of care but no gross negligence or other reckless behavior, the subject of the investigation will be changed from that of the resident or fellow to that of the attending physician.