Complaint FAQs

The Board is responsible for investigating complaints against licensees and for taking action against the license of those who fail to maintain Maryland's high standards of medical care delivery or who break the laws governing licensure.

Patients often become upset about the medical care that they receive when they feel that they have been treated rudely or been made to wait too long. Often, they feel that they have been overcharged for the quality of the service they have received. As the Board reviews complaints, the physician or health care provider usually will be informed of a complaint and may be asked to respond to the allegation. Often, after hearing from the Board, the physician or health care provider and the patient are able to come to a resolution of the matter. A typical complaint resolved in this fashion might deal with the prompt release of medical records or the cost of copying the record.

The Board takes disciplinary action when an individual violates the Maryland Medical Practice Act in a manner determined by the Board to warrant prosecution.

The following are some of the more serious infractions that lead to the Board placing restrictions on a licensee or even revoking a license to practice in Maryland:

  • Misuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Sexual contact with patients
  • Conviction of a criminal act
  • Prescribing addictive drugs without a bona fide medical indication
  • Accepting money or other consideration in return for patient referrals
  • Practicing without a license or aiding others to do so
  • Providing substandard care

The Maryland law provides that the Board is required to show by evidence that a licensee has breached the Medical Practice Act. A thorough investigation of the facts must precede the Board making a charge against a physician or other health care provider. The Board employs full time investigators who gather information and present it to the Board members. If the Board has a reasonable basis to conclude that a breach of the Maryland Medical Practice Act has occurred, charges are then brought against the licensee. The accused individual then has the opportunity to defend himself/herself before an administrative law judge in a formal administrative hearing. Anyone filing a complaint might be called to testify at the hearing. In sensitive cases, the identity of the witness is not publicly released. After the hearing, if a violation of the Medical Practice Act has occurred, the Board may invoke a penalty against the licensee appropriate to the breach. Retraining, a course in ethics, psychiatric treatment, community service, and other requirements may be required in addition to, or in lieu of, license suspension or revocation.
Many minor complaints are resolved within a few weeks in an informal manner. When a full investigation results in the Board bringing formal charges, the process takes longer. Cases involving standards of quality care go through a peer review in which other physicians examine the quality of care provided and issue an opinion. Because the Board provides due process to the licensees, the disciplinary process takes a long time. Still, almost all of the Board's cases are resolved within 18 months and most are resolved sooner.

Download the Complaint Form pdf or the MS Word version. The Board investigates ALL complaints it receives to determine whether the licensee is fulfilling his/her obligations under the Medical Practice Act. If there is a breach, the Board has the authority to take action against the license of the health care provider. These actions could be as minor as a letter of concern informing the licensee of the Board's attitude regarding a specific health delivery problem, or as serious as a revocation of a license if there has been a serious breach of the law. The Board also has authority to reprimand, suspend the license to practice, or assess fines up to $50,000.

The Board does not have the authority to order a physician to make recompense to an individual who thinks he/she has been harmed by a physician. This type of complaint is pursued by contacting an attorney and initiating a suit in the civil justice system. Even if the Board disciplines a licensee, that information is not admissible in a civil action, even though the disciplinary action may be based on the same facts.

Complaints are most often resolved in one of two ways:

  1. No formal action. Typically, this is the result when no violation of the Medical Practice Act has occurred. In some cases, there may be no violation of the Medical Practice Act that rises to the level of a violation of the Medical Practice Act, but the Board is nonetheless concerned about some aspect of the provider’s conduct or performance. In such cases, the Board will send a confidential advisory letter to the provider.

  2. Disciplinary action is taken. In these cases, the Board determines there was a violation of the Medical Practice Act and takes formal public disciplinary action.
Many issues that are important to consumers do not fall within the Board’s jurisdiction because no violation of the Medical Practice Act is present. Dismissal from a medical practice does not violate the Act. Many financial and interpersonal issues also are outside the Board’s jurisdiction. The Board cannot help a patient sue a provider for money, settle fee disputes, resolve issues about disability ratings and compensation or mediate personality conflicts among patients, doctors and office staff.