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Sunset Review of the Maryland Board of Physicians
In November 2011, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) issued its evaluation of the Maryland Board of Physicians (MBP) in connection with the board’s scheduled termination on July 1, 2013. The General Assembly will consider recommendations from the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee and the House Health and Government Operations Committee in deciding the conditions for reauthorizing the MBP. The DLS noted many deficiencies which are detailed in the report (visit http://dlslibrary.state.md.us/publications/OPA/S/F/Physicians-AHAC_2011.pdf). Among others, these include a growing backlog of complaints, failure to implement requirements from its 2005 and 2006 evaluations and failure to adopt regulations when required by law. DLS offered 46 recommendations regarding licensing, complaint resolution, board resources and other issues. Due to DLS’s concern about the MBP complying with the sunset recommendations, it recommended that the board’s termination date be extended by only one year to July 1, 2014 when another assessment would be required.
One DLS recommendation of particular interest to psychiatrists is that the MBP adopt regulations governing mental health record subpoenas by December 31, 2012. As part of its investigations, MBP often issues subpoenas for patient medical records, which can contain sensitive information. As a result, MBP attempts to balance the need for patient confidentiality with the need to protect the public’s health and welfare. The board submitted regulations in January 2008 that required the full board to review an investigative subpoena that involves mental health records if the psychiatrist who is the subject of a standard of care complaint requests that the subpoena be reviewed. Those regulations, however, were later withdrawn and have not been resubmitted.