Justice vs. Mercy: Punishment, Remediation, or Education

  • 06 Apr 2100
  • Virtual - at your desktop


Protection of the public is the statutory mandate for regulatory boards. The session will begin by describing the theoretical goals of licensing board disciplinary actions, the competing concerns of the various interested parties, and the conflict between perceptions and reality in the way boards answer the "justice vs. mercy" question. Presenters will outline the legal framework for deciding the disciplinary action, the standards of review of board choices of disciplinary actions, and some of the pragmatic considerations that go into board decisions on sanctions. Presenters will then discuss practical considerations, what boards really do, what they should be doing, and the experience of board members making these decisions and the challenges they face.

Can protection of the public be obtained without a punitive aspect to regulation? Is there ever a situation in which a non-punitive approach is warranted? Does the information explosion have implications for how boards discipline? Do actions by other entities influence regulatory board function? Should they? What is the meaning of fairness when applied to the regulatory process?

William Harp graduated from the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia. He did his psychiatry residency at the Medical College of Virginia. Following a four-year stint in the Air Force, which included training as a flight surgeon, he returned to Richmond to pursue private practice. He assumed the post of Executive Director for the Virginia Board of Medicine in January 2000. During his tenure, the Board has addressed a number of issues including continuing education, physician profiling, investigation of malpractice reports, office-based anesthesia, laser hair removal, ethics, confidential consent agreements, confidential advisory letters, a change in the threshold for taking action in disciplinary matters, continuing competency and competency assessments. He is active with the Federation of State Medical Boards and has been active in professional organizations and patient advocacy groups. He has continued teaching activities with the MCV Department of Psychiatry.

Jim Wilson has been a solo practitioner attorney in Durham, North Carolina for the last six years. He represents health care professionals, in obtaining a license, defending licensing board disciplinary investigations and charges, hospital privileges, HMO and other health insurance credentialing and deselection, DEA registration including show cause proceedings, Medicare exclusion, NBPD/HIBDB reporting, military medical credentialing, litigation regarding the requirement for a license, and advising clients regarding the requirement for a license in health care transactions. He also is the lawyer for the medical staff at Duke Health Raleigh Hospital and has served as a hearing officer in hospital privileges cases.

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