Discipline of doctors delayed months
In early May, the Oklahoma Medical Board suspended a Midwest City doctor's license for six months after an investigation connected two prescription overdose deaths to his prescribing practices.
But it took four weeks before Dr. Dwayne Roush's suspension became official.
In mid-January, the medical board barred Dr. H. Peter Koenen-Myers Jr. from reapplying for his lapsed medical license after determining he had overprescribed opioids to a patient who later died of an overdose.
It took 10 weeks before the suspension went into effect, board records show.
Since 2015, some state licensure boards for health professionals have waited anywhere from two weeks to three months for disciplinary actions to become official. The delays have provoked complaints from board directors, who say when they revoke or suspend a physician's license and weeks pass before the action takes effect, it puts public health at risk. The delays are caused by a requirement, enacted in 2015, that the Oklahoma attorney general's office review and approve every disciplinary action taken by the state licensure boards. Former Attorney General Scott Pruitt recommended the change in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, seeking to protect the state from lawsuits alleging anti-competitive practices. Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order approving the process.
Directors of the state medical, chiropractic and osteopathic medicine boards have reported delays of as long as several months and raised concerns with Pruitt, though nothing changed.
"If we discipline a doctor for improperly prescribing or overprescribing … you'd like to be able to have that final decision to at least have some impact without having to wait for some time. It does raise some concern," said Lyle Kelsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision.