A Letter from the Board of Medicine

Talking with my wife on the phone at lunch today, I asked in my usual manner:

“Was there anything interesting in the mail?”

She hesitated for a moment before answering:

“There’s a letter from the Board of Medicine.”

My mind switched into a higher gear.

“A letter? Not a mass mailing?”

“No, it’s a regular, business-sized envelope.”

“Does my name look typed, or is it a mailing label?”

“It looks typed.”

I have had a couple of letters from the Board before. Many years ago two disgruntled patients complained about me. One wasn’t happy that I stopped prescribing pain pills, and another wanted me to provide care via email. Both times all I had to do was give my side of the story, and the complaint was dismissed without merit.

“Was this a letter about a complaint against me?” I thought to myself. I didn’t know if such letters came registered mail or not.

“Do you want me to open the letter?” my wife asked.

“No, save it for me to open when I get home.”

I had arranged to be off this afternoon in preparation for a weekend trip. A surprise April snowstorm thwarted our travel plans, so we had changed our plans to include a nice, early Friday dinner and a classic movie by the fireplace.

“Would the letter from the Board change the mood of our Friday evening and quiet weekend at home?” I wondered to myself. It had already made me feel a little uneasy the moment I heard about it. It could be a simple announcement of some type; it wasn’t necessarily something unpleasant, although I supposed it might be.

As a physician in America, I work very hard. I strive to do what is medically correct and also to take care of each patient’s need to understand and take responsibility for his or her condition. Sometimes when you read the headlines, it feels as if doctors are never safe from criticism and litigation for being humanly fallible.

“Was it my turn now to be called before the Board of Medicine because I had failed in someone’s eyes, or offended someone inadvertently? My mind wandered as I drove through town to do a few errands on my way home. “How bad could it be?” I tried not to worry.

It had already started snowing by the time I got home. The letter waited for me on the dining room table. I opened it quickly.

With a feeling of relief I read the first few words. The letter was addressed to all physicians with licenses coming up for renewal after May 1 this year:

“Written Exam Required at Renewal” it began.

When I renew my license next time, I will have to take an exam about the Board’s guidelines regarding Informed Consent.

One more hoop to jump through to prove myself worthy of continuing to practice medicine, nothing personal…

1 Response to “A Letter from the Board of Medicine”


  1. 1 drtombibey April 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Hoop Jumping 101. I am also a Board Certified expert.

    Dr. B, author, “The Mandolin Case”


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