If a medical professional mistreated you, you may want to take action to alert authorities or to gain compensation for your suffering. What happens when you file a complaint against a doctor? Read through our guide to understand what a complaint is and learn when to contact an attorney for help.
What Happens When You File a Complaint Against a Doctor: The Basics You Need To Know
When you see a doctor, you have two expectations: That the doctor will listen to your concerns and provide care for your condition, and that he or she will not cause you harm. Unfortunately, you may have received substandard medical care from a doctor or hospital.
First, you may have brought your concerns to the doctor’s office or to the individual doctor who treated you. If your concerns weren’t heard, you may want to file a complaint. This involves submitting a detailed description of the incident or mistreatment to the correct disciplinary board. In Arizona, you can expect to follow these steps after writing your complaint:
1. Contact an Attorney Who Has Experience Filing Medical Complaints
It’s possible to file a complaint against a doctor on your own — but the process is more difficult if you are unsure of what happens when you file a complaint against a doctor and whether you also wish to take additional legal action. Get in touch with an attorney who has experience helping clients file complaints, navigate unexpected personal injury cases, and construct airtight medical malpractice suits.
2. Locate the Correct Disciplinary Board
If the doctor you want to file a complaint against is located in Arizona, you will need to bring your complaint to the state’s Department of Health. The Arizona Medical Board is in charge of investigating complaints brought against licensed medical doctors in the state.
3. Follow Up With the Medical Board
Your investigation may take weeks, months, or even a year. The timeframe largely depends upon the complexity of the case, how severe your problems were as a result of the doctor’s mistreatment, and whether there are other people involved in filing similar complaints against the same medical professional.
The person investigating your case may read your document, interview witnesses, acquire your medical records, and more. In most cases, you should not attempt to contact the doctor directly during this time as it can interfere with the results of your complaint. Your attorney can help you understand this multifaceted process.
4. Determine With Your Attorney Whether You Should Take Further Legal Action
If you believe that you suffered from medical malpractice, you may want to file a lawsuit against the doctor or hospital in addition to filing a complaint against a single doctor. As each case is unique, this is a topic that you will need to discuss with your attorney before you proceed.
5 Frequently Asked Questions About Filing a Complaint
If you’ve never filed a complaint against a doctor before, you likely have several questions pertaining to the process. Read through these FAQs regarding what happens when you file a complaint against a doctor and get in touch for more information specific to your case.
1. What If I Have More Than One Complaint?
You can file your complaints together as they likely all pertain to your case and your overall treatment by the doctor. File complaints from more than one patient separately. The review board may pay more attention to several similar complaints filed by multiple people than one complaint filed by a single patient.
Many similar complaints could show that a doctor has a pattern of mistreating patients (such as a doctor misdiagnosing patients or acting with sexual misconduct in an appointment), and these situations are more likely to lead to disciplinary action.
2. Will the Doctor Know It Was Me Who Filed?
Yes, the doctor will likely know who filed the complaint if the details are specific to your case. However, the doctor should not contact you to discuss the complaint unless he or she is making an attempt to resolve the problem with you. Address any harassment you experience from the doctor’s office about your complaint (or calls, texts, or emails that do not include attempts to resolve the issue) with your attorney.
3. Will the Doctor Lose His or Her License?
What happens when you file a complaint against a doctor after the board reviews the case? Losing a license is one of the potential consequences of filing a complaint. The disciplinary action the medical review board takes depends on the severity of the complaint and what the board finds in its review.
The doctor won’t necessarily lose his or her license — he or she may instead be subject to a reprimand, hefty fines, or a temporary suspension from practicing medicine — but it is a possible outcome of this process.
4. Is Filing a Complaint the Same as Filing a Claim?
No, complaints and claims are two different processes. Claims usually refer to documents submitted to your health insurance provider for reimbursement. Complaints, on the other hand, have to do with the doctor’s treatment of you during an appointment or concerning decisions made during your surgery or medicine prescribed to you.
5. Is Filing a Complaint the Same as Suing for Medical Malpractice?
No, filing a medical complaint is not the same thing as bringing a lawsuit against a medical professional. In most cases, a medical malpractice suit indicates that there was significant damage — either overt wrongdoing or negligence — to the patient. A complaint is not a lawsuit, but the information gathered from a complaint (or a series of complaints) can be part of a lawsuit.
Do You Need More Information About What Happens When You File a Complaint Against a Doctor?
If you suffered as a result of the actions of a medical professional in Arizona, you may be wondering what happens when you file a complaint against a doctor. Request a free consultation with us to go over the specifics of your case and determine your next steps. We look forward to helping you get the justice you deserve.