OHIO PHYSICIANS: DO YOU KNOW THE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS?

Did you know that in Ohio, if you give aid to a sick or injured person, the failure to report to law enforcement any gunshot or stab wound that you have treated or observed, or any serious physical harm to a person that you know or have reasonable cause to believe resulted from an offense of violence, could result in a misdemeanor criminal charge and conviction?

Ohio Revised Code 2921.22(B) provides:
“Except for conditions that are within the scope of division (E) of this section, no person giving aid to a sick or injured person shall negligently fail to report to law enforcement authorities any gunshot or stab wound treated or observed by the person, or any serious physical harm to persons that the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe resulted from an offense of violence.”

Many are unaware of this reporting requirement.  However, ignorance of the law is no defense.

Unless you have completed a residency program in emergency medicine, trauma, or surgery, you might have never heard of this reporting law.  We are not aware that medical schools in Ohio routinely address this reporting law.

Often, patients who have been involved in or have been a victim of a crime, or an incident involving a gunshot or stab wound or serious physical harm, are unwilling or unable to truthfully explain to their medical professional how the injury occurred.  In certain instances, it may be difficult to determine if an injury is the result of a crime of violence.  Physicians should be aware that a patient who has been involved in a crime might try to tell the physician that they were “accidently” injured (for example, while hunting or by mistake).

If you have reasonable cause to believe that a gunshot or stab wound or serious physical harm resulted from an offense of violence, the failure report to law enforcement could result in criminal charges and conviction for misdemeanor, Failure to Report a Crime, and the conviction could result in a disciplinary action against your Ohio medical license (R.C. 4731.22(B)(11)).

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the State Medical Board of Ohio, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC, or contact me at beth@collislaw.com or 614-486-3909.

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Physicians’ Legal Obligation to Report to the State Medical Board of Ohio

Last week, the State Medical Board of Ohio issued a landmark decision in which the Medical Board permanently revoked the license of a physician for failing to report to the Medical Board allegations of sexual misconduct concerning the physician’s colleague.

Pursuant to ORC 4732.224(B), an individual licensed by the Medical Board who has reason to believe that a violation of any provision of the Medical Board’s statutes or rules has occurred shall report to the Medical Board. Although this law has been in effect for many years, this was the first time we are aware that the Medical Board has disciplined a licensee for failing to report a licensee under this law. It was also remarkable that the sanction imposed was a permanent revocation, which is the most serious sanction that can be imposed by the Medical Board.

An interesting factor of this case also rests in the subjective wording of the reporting statute, which provides that a licensee who “has reason to believe” that a violation of Medical Board law or rule has occurred shall report to the Medical Board. This subjective wording can make it difficult for a physician to know when they must report to the Medical Board allegations made against a colleague.  However, OAC 4731-15-01(D) provides guidance by indicating that “reason to believe” or “a belief” does not require absolute certainty or complete unquestioning acceptance, but only an opinion that a violation has occurred based upon firsthand knowledge or reliable information.

In this case, the Board’s attorneys argued that the physician’s failure to report to the Medical Board allegations of sexual misconduct concerning the physician’s medical partner with patients in the practice was a violation of the reporting statute. Despite the fact that the physician who allegedly engaged in misconduct was terminated from employment at the medical practice, the physician who failed to report to the Medical Board the alleged misconduct permanently lost his medical license.

Although there are certain exceptions to the reporting requirement in OAC 4731-15-01(B), those exceptions are limited and require a fact specific analysis in each individual case.

Under OAC 4731-15-01(E), a report required to be made must be made to the Medical Board within 48 hours. Under OAC 4731-15-01(G), each report must include (i) the name of the practitioner or other individual in violation, (ii) the violation which is believed to have occurred, and (iii) the date(s) of and place(s) of occurrence(s), if known.

This case is a cautionary tale to Ohio physicians. If you have reason to believe that another licensed professional is violating any of the provisions of the Ohio Medical Practice Act (ORC 4731 et seq and OAC 4731 et seq), you are required to report to the Medical Board.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or about the State Medical Board of Ohio in general, please feel free to call one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com