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FAQ - Patients and Families

Frequently asked questions from patients and families.

Who is on the Board of Medicine?

Who can make a complaint?

How do I file a complaint?

Will I get in trouble if i make a complaint?

What happens after I make a complaint?

What happens once the Board has the complaint and response?

How often does the Medical Review Subcommittee meet?

What actions might the Board take after reviewing Reports of Investigation?

How will I find out what happens after i make a complaint?

Why does it take so long to get an answer?

I made a complaint four months ago. I got a letter thanking me for this, but nothing ever happened. What's my next step?

How often does the Board of Medicine meet?

May I come to Board of Medicine meetings?

May I speak at Board of Medicine meetings?

Are doctors ever disciplined?

What kind of discipline do doctors get?

What actions are taken by the Board, and what is the statistical breakdown?

I sued my doctor. Why didn't the Board of Medicine do something?

back to topWho is on the Board of Medicine?

The Board of Medicine is composed of 11 volunteer members: six physicians, one physician assistant (PA), three non-physician public members, and the Commissioner of Health and Human Services or the commissioner's designee.Board members are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Executive Council and serve up to two five-year terms.

back to topWho can make a complaint?

Anyone, including a patient, family member or concerned friend, may file a complaint with the Board of Medicine. A complaint may involve substandard care, practicing medicine while impaired by alcohol or drugs, engaging in dishonest or unprofessional conduct, and other issues. For instructions on how to file a complaint, see next faq.

back to topHow do I file a complaint?

Complaints may be made by:

  • going to the Board of Medicine's homepage, clicking on "Consumers" and downloading the consumer complaint form, filling it out in its entirety and submitting it to the Board;
  • writing a letter to the New Hampshire Board of Medicine addressed to 121 South Fruit Street, Concord, New Hampshire 03301-2412; or
  • going to the Board of Medicine's homepage, clicking on "Contact the Board" and then emailing us using the information provided.

You will need to give details of what triggered this complaint, including name of the physician, dates of treatment, and all significant details of the treatment or problem. You will also need to provide your name and contact information. If you have further questions regarding filing a complaint, you can contact the office at (603) 271-6930 or toll free: 1-800-780-4757.

back to topWill I get in trouble if I make a complaint?

New Hampshire law states that "No civil action shall be maintained against…any…person for or by reason of any good faith statement, report, communication or testimony to the board." (New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated 329:17,IX). In other words, you are protected if you make a complaint honestly and in good faith.

back to topWhat happens after I make a complaint?

A copy of your complaint will be sent to the physician or physician assistant for his or her response. The physician/physician assistant has 30 days to respond to the complaint. If necessary, the Board's investigator will obtain the relevant medical records.

back to topWhat happens once the Board has the complaint and response?

Your complaint is sent to a subcommittee, called the Medical Review Subcommittee, or MRSC. The MRSC is comprised of different members than the Board, and is composed of 11 volunteer members: six physicians, one physician assistant (PA), three non-physician public members and the vice-president of the Board. MRSC members are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Executive Council and serve up to two three-year terms. Your complaint is assigned to one member of the MRSC for investigation. In conjunction with the Board's investigatory staff, that member will obtain any further necessary medical records and/or responses from other physicians. This member will draft a Report of Investigation and discuss it with the other MRSC members. If necessary, the MRSC may send the information gathered to a physician, who is an expert in the relevant medical field, to review all the documentation. The expert physician will draft the Report of Investigation and return it to the MRSC for review. The MRSC forwards all Reports of Investigations to the Board with a recommendation.

back to topHow often does the Medical Review Subcommittee meet?

The volunteer members of the MRSC have regularly scheduled monthly meetings. These meetings are closed to the public because of the sensitive nature of individuals' medical records.

back to topWhat actions might the Board take after reviewing Reports of Investigation?

The Board might vote:

  • To take no further action. If, in reviewing the complaint, response, and necessary medical records, the allegations do not rise to a violation of the Board's statutes, the Board's rules, or the AMA code of Ethics, the Board must dismiss the complaint.
  • To issue a Letter of Concern. The law states: "The Board may issue a non-disciplinary confidential letter of concern to a licensee advising that while there is insufficient evidence to support a disciplinary action, the Board believes the physician should modify or eliminate certain practices, and that continuation of the activities which led to the information being submitted to the Board may result in action against the licensee's license. This letter shall not be released to the public or any other licensing authority, except that the letter may be used as evidence in subsequent disciplinary proceedings by the Board." (New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated 329:17,VII-a). In plain terms, this letter is not an actual disciplinary action, not public, not a fine, not a reprimand, but is a letter warning that a doctor's practice is possibly a problem, and that he or she should modify those practices. No one (including you) except the doctor and the Board knows of this letter, and it is not posted on the Board's website, nor made public to anyone who asks. It is not sent to the National Practitioners Data Bank. However, this warning is taken very seriously by doctors, and all letters of concern remain in the doctor's file at the Board of Medicine.
  • To take public disciplinary action. The Board then directs its lawyers (Hearing Counsel) to draft a Notice of Hearing which the Board then publicly issues. After holding a hearing, the Board makes a finding of whether the licensee violated a statute or rule. If so, the Board may impose disciplinary action. Disciplinary action may consist of a reprimand, suspension or revocation of license, fine, remedial education, or any one or more of the other actions available to it by law. At any time during this process, the doctor may negotiate a public settlement agreement with the Board's Hearing Counsel, but all settlement agreements must be brought before the Board for approval before they become final.

back to topHow will I find out what happens after I make a complaint?

The Board will mail you an acknowledgement that your complaint has been received, and you may call any time to check on the progress. If the Board votes to issue a Notice of Hearing, you will receive a copy of the Notice. If no action is taken, or if a Letter of Concern is sent to the physician/physician assistant, you will be informed only that the Board has investigated the complaint and this investigation did not result in a formal disciplinary action against the licensee. Unless the Board makes an affirmative finding that the complaint is unfounded in accordance with Revised Statute Annotated 329:17,XIII, the complaint will remain in the licensee's file and may be re-examined in the future for a pattern of conduct.

back to topWhy does it take so long to get an answer?

Once a complaint is made, the Medical Review Subcommittee (MRSC) is required to obtain a response from the doctor, the medical records and other relevant information. An MRSC member must draft a Report of Investigation and present it at a monthly MRSC meeting for a recommendation. The Report of Investigation is then sent to the Board, placed on the agenda for its next regularly scheduled monthly meeting, for a vote as described above. This may take three to four months. If an expert review is required, or if the Board requires additional information to make an informed decision, the process is prolonged. Three to six months or more for a final decision is not uncommon.

back to topI made a complaint four months ago. I got a letter thanking me for this, but nothing ever happened. What's my next step?

You may call our toll-free number to inquire. The Board's vote to take no further action or to issue a Letter of Concern, is not made public. However, you will be informed in writing that the Board has investigated the complaint and this investigation did not result in a formal disciplinary action against the doctor. The Board's vote to take disciplinary action becomes public after either a Notice of Hearing is issued or a Settlement Agreement is approved by the Board. Before a Settlement Agreement is presented to the Board, Hearing Counsel will contact the complainant for input. Please note that only the complainant will be contacted for input before a settlement agreement is presented to the Board. This means that if the Board has commenced an investigation against a licensee due to the superior court notifying the Board of a court action, there would be no complainant on file with the Board and thus input will not be sought prior to settlement agreement presentation.

back to topHow often does the Board of Medicine meet?

The Board meets monthly. Its regularly scheduled meetings are usually the first Wednesday of the month.

back to topMay I come to Board of Medicine meetings?

Yes, any member of the public is welcome to come to the public portions of the Board of Medicine meetings. The Board's meetings commence at 9 a.m., but non-public agenda items are attended to first and the public may not attend that portion of the meeting. The morning portion of the Board's meeting is reserved for reviewing Reports of Investigation and non-conforming license applications. The public portion of the meetings commences generally at 1 p.m. As discussed below, members of the public may not address the Board at Board meetings.

back to topMay I speak at Board of Medicine meetings?

Anyone may attend the public session in the afternoon. If you wish to address the Board of Medicine you may present your request in writing to the president of the Board at least 5 days prior to the Board meeting. The Board will not entertain requests to speak to the Board about matters involving complaints, as this would not be allowed by law.

back to topAre doctors ever disciplined?

Yes.The Board publishes its disciplinary actions in its newsletter, available online on the Board's webpage.

You may also search the Physician Finder by the licensee's name to learn if that physician or physician assistant was disciplined in New Hampshire.

back to topWhat kind of discipline do doctors get?

The Board may take disciplinary action in one or more ways, which include: by reprimand, fine, requirement for remedial education, suspension or revocation of licensure.

back to topWhat actions are taken by the Board, and what is the statistical breakdown?

July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 (Fiscal Year 2015)
A total of 446 consumer (patient) complaints, notice of malpractice suits, reservable claim reports from insurance complanies and/or complaints fromother sources were opened between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

A total of 436 consumer (patient) complaints, notice of malpractice suits, reservable claim reports from insurance companies and/or complaints from other sources were closed between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. Of those total matters closed, 33 were unfounded pursuant to RSA 329:17,XIII, which deems a complaint is unfounded if it does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Board, does not relate to the actions of the licensee, or is determined by the Board to be frivolous; 156 were voted on by the Board for no further action; 57 confidential Letters of Concern were issued, pursuant to RSA 329:17,VII-a. These confidential Letters of Concern advise the licensee that while there is insufficient evidence to support disciplinary action, the Board believes the physician should modify or eliminate certain practices, and that continuation of the activities which led to the information being submitted to the Board may result in action against the licensee's license. 117 confidential Letters of Concern were issued, pursuant to RSA 329:17,VII-a and RSA 329:16-f,I. These confidential Letters of Concern advise the licensee that any change in business or home address shall be reported to the Board no later than 30 days from the date of the change. 37 confidential Letters of Concern were issued, pursuant to RSA 329:17,VII-a and RSA 329:16-f, II. These confidential Letters of Concern advise the licensee that they shall provide the Board with a copy of any notice of complaint, action for medical injury, or claim received from or disciplinary action taken in a jurisdiction outside of this state within 30 days of receipt of such notice or action. The Letters of Concern are not released to the public or any other licensing authority, except that the letters may be used as evidence in subsequent disciplinary proceedings by the Board. Also during this time frame, the Board imposed disciplinary action in 17 matters: nine Settlement Agreements for professional misconduct, one Voluntary Surrender of License, one denial of application for licensure, three Preliminary Agreements for Practice Restrictions, two suspension of licenses, and one order issued pursuant to a Disciplinary Hearing.

July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016 (Fiscal Year 2016)
A total of 441 consumer (patient) complaints, notice of malpractice suits, reservable claim reports from insurance companies and/or complaints from other sources were opened between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

A total of 490 consumer (patient) complaints, notice of malpractice suits, reservable claim reports from insurance companies and/or complaints from other sources were closed between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. Of those total matters closed, 24 were unfounded pursuant to RSA 329:17,XIII, which deems a complaint is unfounded if it does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Board, does not relate to the actions of the licensee, or is determined by the Board to be frivolous; 201 were voted on by the Board for no further action; 60 confidential Letters of Concern were issued, pursuant to RSA 329:17,VII-a. These confidential Letters of Concern advise the licensee that while there is insufficient evidence to support disciplinary action, the Board believes the physician should modify or eliminate certain practices, and that continuation of the activities which led to the information being submitted to the Board may result in action against the licensee's license. 99 confidential Letters of Concern were issued, pursuant to RSA 329:17,VII-a and RSA 329:16-f,I. These confidential Letters of Concern advise the licensee that any change in business or home address shall be reported to the Board no later than 30 days from the date of the change. 31 confidential Letters of Concern were issued, pursuant to RSA 329:17,VII-a and RSA 329:16-f, II. These confidential Letters of Concern advise the licensee that they shall provide the Board with a copy of any notice of complaint, action for medical injury, or claim received from or disciplinary action taken in a jurisdiction outside of this state within 30 days of receipt of such notice or action. The Letters of Concern are not released to the public or any other licensing authority, except that the letters may be used as evidence in subsequent disciplinary proceedings by the Board. Also during this time frame, the Board imposed disciplinary action in 13 matters: five Settlement Agreements for professional misconduct, one denial of application for licensure, three Preliminary Agreements for Practice Restrictions, two orders of emergency license suspensions were issued, and two orders issued pursuant to a Disciplinary Hearing.

back to topI sued my doctor. Why didn't the Board of Medicine do something?

In accordance with New Hampshire law, all malpractice suits or claims must be investigated by the Board of Medicine. The Medical Review Subcommittee, as described above, will investigate the matter and make a recommendation to the Board, which will then vote on a course of action. If you do not file a complaint directly with the Board of Medicine, you will not be individually notified when the Board takes action. However, as described above, the Board may vote on a range of actions, from discipline (license suspension or revocation) to a confidential Letter of Concern to a finding that no action is necessary.

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Office of Professional Licensure and Certification
121 South Fruit Street |  Concord, NH 03301
Main Telephone: (603) 271-2152