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Average 2-year-long board discipline process needs reform, audit finds

An audit commissioned by the Nevada legislature, which reviewed the Board of Medical Examiners’ activities from 2017 to 2020, recommended improvements in the way the board monitors disciplinary cases in order to speed up the process, as well as more consistent tracking of time spent for purposes of calculating costs.

The Legislative Auditor found that the medical board needed improvement in order to timely resolve disciplinary cases. Twenty-three days was the average time for a complaint to be processed and assigned to an investigator and investigators then took a full month to notify licensees they were under investigation and request medical records.

The investigatory process averaged 326 days, and, once in motion, the disciplinary process took about a year to finish, on average.

The complaint resolution process “can take as long as several years to final-ize,” the audit noted. It also pointed to “large gaps of time. . . between activities in certain cases where the Board could not provide explanations for delays.”

While praising several aspects of the board’s performance, the auditor recommended that the board improve monitoring of the complaint resolution process and establish guidelines for case deadlines and milestones. The board could also improve its assessment of fines, the auditor said, by setting disciplinary guidelines that recommend financial penalties for specific violations.

When costs of investigations were assessed, auditors found that they were often not adequately supported, as hours worked by investigative staff and peer reviewers are not consistently maintained.

Key recommendations made by auditors included:

• Formalizing the intake assignment timeline and monitor timeliness;

• Monitoring cases for timely resolution;

• Increasing cases reviewed at investigative committee meetings; and

• Establishing processes to ensure that costs are adequately tracked.