Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Letter of Concern" Not a Violation of Due Process

A federal appellate court has ruled that a Nebraska statute authorizing "letters of concern" to be part of a physician's public record without prior notice to allow the physician to contest the letter is not unconstitutional (Kloch v. Kohl, 8th Cir., No. 07-2120, 11/3/08).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that the Nebraska Uniform Licensing Law, which allows this practice, does not violate Dr. Gregory Kloch's right to due process because it has no significant and direct impact on his medical licensure or his ability to practice in the state.

Because a letter of concern does not necessarily constitute a disciplinary action, the state is not required to take immediate steps to revoke his license or take other measures to prevent a physician from practicing medicine.

The court stated that “Nebraska could not have disciplined a physician on the basis of conduct discussed in a letter of concern without first formally charging the physician and holding a hearing to test the allegations,” thus refuting the appellant's argument that the statute violates his right to appeal the concerns raised in the letter.

The court also ruled that because the letter of concern was posted to the department's Web site and available upon request, Kloch was given adequate notice to review and contest the letter against him.

Click here for the court's full opinion:

Source: BNA

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