Harry Nelson

Understanding Bias in and Managing Health Professional Licensing Investigations

Justice or Just Us: Understanding Bias and Managing Health Professional Licensing Enforcement from Harry Nelson

Thanks to the National Medical Association and the Golden State Medical Association for inviting me to address the topic of bias in physician and health professional licensing enforcement at their March 2017 Conference and to offer thoughts on navigating the investigation and enforcement process. I have been grateful for the positive feedback from attendees and heartened by the expressions of interest from regulators in addressing this important topic. In particular, I want to thank Dr. Khadijah Lang of the Golden State Medical Association for the invitation to speak about the issue. Dr. Lang has been a great advocate for issues affecting physicians and other care providers of color.

My presentation, “Justice or Just Us: Understanding, Addressing, and Managing Bias in Medical Board and Health Professional Licensing Actions” brought together several distinct strands of issues that I care about: thinking about racial bias and other forms of bias in healthcare investigative processes, thinking about structural biases that need attention, and some ideas about how to prevent avoidable investigations and manage them to the best possible outcome when they occur. Physicians and other health professionals are often caught by surprise by investigations and disciplinary processes. The process has distinctive purposes and processes, and there is much that health professionals armed with knowledge can do to protect themselves and their licenses in the event of a complaint or accusation.

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