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About the Virginia Board of Medicine 

What it is: The 18 members of this state body are appointed to four-year terms by the governor. Eleven members are medical doctors, three are other health professionals, and four are members of the public. The board licenses medical doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, podiatrists and certain other health practitioners. The board disciplines practitioners and creates regulations for the practice of health care. Its meetings are open to the public.

What can it do? The board has a range of ways to discipline health professionals, such as reprimanding them, fining them, placing them on probation, suspending them, revoking their licenses, denying them the right to renew a license and accepting the surrender of a license. Most disciplinary actions are reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a registry created by Congress to help track physicians across the country. Prospective employers and hospitals check this registry when considering whether to grant doctors privileges. If doctors hold medical licenses in other states, those states may choose to act on the Virginia agency's findings and issue their own penalties.

Suspension and revocation: Doctors whose licenses are suspended or revoked may not practice medicine unless the board votes to reinstate them.

Probation: Doctors on probation often are permitted to practice but must fulfill certain conditions, such as taking additional medical classes or undergoing counseling. A doctor who fails to fulfill the terms of probation could lose his or her license.

Reprimand/Censure: Doctors who are reprimanded or censured — the lightest form of discipline — may keep practicing. But the formal action becomes part of the doctor's record.

How do cases come to the board's attention? The board typically looks only at cases that others send to its attention. For example, hospitals notify the board when they discipline doctors, and insurance companies report practitioners who make malpractice settlements. Individuals also file complaints.

Address: 6603 W. Broad St., 5th Floor, Richmond, Va. 23230-1712

Phone: (804) 662-9908

Complaint line: (800) 533-1560

Web site: www.dhp.state.va.us/medicine

For information on practitioners: www.vahealthprovider.com

Executive director: Dr. William L. Harp

Board president: Dr. Harry C. Beaver of Fairfax, second term expires June 2004

Richmond-area members: Dr. Dianne L. Reynolds-Cane, secretary/treasurer, first term expires June 2004; Carol E. Comstock, registered nurse, first term expires June 2005; Dr. Cheryl Jordan, second term expires June 2003; Dr. Thomas B. Leecost, podiatrist, first term expires June 2006; Dr. Joseph A. Leming of Colonial Heights, second term expires June 2003.

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