Medical Examiners criticized by lawmakers

Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, has accused the Board of Medical Examiners of ignoring lawmakers by refusing to license doctors who have valid permits to practice in other states.

She said the Legislature made it clear the board should amend its licensing rules and called the refusal to do so "outrageous."

Her comments were followed by a complaint from Sen. Ann O'Connell, R-Las Vegas, who asked why the board hasn't opened an office in Las Vegas where most of the state's physicians practice.

The comments were made during Wednesday's Legislative Commission meeting, after which lawmakers voted to hire the Federation of State Medical Boards to do a performance audit of the board. The audit will cost about $27,875 -- just over half what it would cost if legislative auditors do the job.

Keith Lee, lobbyist for the board, said relaxing licensing was taking longer than lawmakers wanted because the board wanted to "provide safeguards without raising a barrier" when licensing out-of-state doctors to practice in Nevada.

Existing board rules have long required that all physicians take the exam and pass before they are allowed to practice in Nevada even if they have been in practice for some time without disciplinary or other problems in their home state.

He told lawmakers it would cost about $500,000 over the two-year budget cycle to open a Las Vegas office with three staff members. That would require raising dues paid by doctors.

He said the primary supporter of the Las Vegas office, Dr. Donald Havins, of the Clark County Medical Society, has decided he doesn't want a Las Vegas office because of the potential fee increase.

The audit of the board will be completed in time for the 2005 Legislature.


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