House Approves Changes to Medical Practice Board

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(Host) The Vermont House on Tuesday afternoon gave its approval to legislation that makes major changes in the way that doctors are regulated in the state.

While most regulated professions come under the auspices of the Secretary of State, the Medical Practice Board operates as an independent entity. This legislation places oversight for the Board with the Health Department. The bill also adds three new public members to the Board and it makes it easier for consumers to find information about doctors.

The major fight on Tuesday concerned cases of misconduct by doctors. Under current law, it takes several cases of misconduct before the Board investigates a physician. This bill lowers that threshold to just one case.

Most members of the House Judiciary Committee tried to amend the legislation to allow doctors to have several cases of misconduct before being investigated but Hyde Park Representative Stephanie Bourdeau said the proposal would be bad for consumers:

(Bourdeau) "Vermonters have been put at risk because the Medical Practice Board has had to wait for a pattern to emerge of bad behavior by an individual before they could step in. Iif you were a patient of the doctor in question, would you feel totally comfortable having him treat you knowing that the Medical Practice Board really wanted to discipline your doctor but they could not until they could show that a string of incidents had occurred?"

(Host) The House rejected the amendment by roughly 30 votes and then gave its strong final approval to the legislation. The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

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