Gov. Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 843 (Act 441) by Rep. Chris Hazel, R-Pineville, on July 1, marking a significant legislative victory for Louisiana physicians.

Louisiana State Medical Society supported Act 441 because it mandates that written due process rules must be established and implemented by Jan. 1, giving physicians basic legal rights, including:

Clarifying the definition of “unprofessional conduct” and “medical incompetency”

Requiring a majority vote of the Board of Medical Examiners before a formal investigation is initiated

Prohibiting the executive director from acting as the lead investigator

Requiring a notice of the investigation to be provided to the physician

Establishing that all charges shall be proven by a preponderance of evidence.

The board plays an important role in patient safety, and these changes will not impede their ability to protect patients. When a physician’s license is investigated, many lives hang in the balance. The LSMS believes a fair and timely adjudication of the matter is in the best interest of both patients and physicians.

We are grateful to Rep. Hazel for leading the fight for the legislation, as well as to our champions in the Legislature who helped shepherd it through the process, including Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe; Rep. Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs; Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie; Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte; Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego; and Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Metairie. The representation of legislative support across geographic, party and racial lines for this monumental legislation underscores the need expressed by physicians across the state.

Dolleen M. Licciardi, M.D.

president, Louisiana State Medical Society

Destrehan