How to Complain to the Medical Board About Abuse During Pregnancy and Birth
Doctors have an obligation to follow the law and to meet their professional and ethical duties to their patients. Those who fail to do so can be publicly disciplined or lose their license to practice medicine. The Georgia Composite Medical Board regulates doctors and reviews complaints of serious ethical and other violations. If a doctor abuses you when you are in labor, especially if that abuse causes an injury or violates the law, the Medical Board may discipline the doctor.
Even if the Board doesn’t discipline the doctor, filing a complaint creates a record of the abuse. If other patients file similar complaints, the Board may take them more seriously thanks to your complaint. The Medical Board does not regulate or discipline nurses. If you are abused by a nurse or midwife while in labor, click here to learn more about filing a complaint.
understanding the medical board complaint process
The Medical Board refers most complaints for investigation. During an investigation, the medical provider is able to give a response to the allegation. So it’s important to provide evidence that makes it difficult for the provider to dispute your claim. If your allegation is very serious, involving severe wrongdoing or criminal violations, the Board may refer the complaint to law enforcement or another agency. The Board can investigate any complaint, but a complaint is more likely to be effective if it alleges a violation of Georgia’s Medical Practice Act.
Some common complaints include:
Abandonment: A doctor generally can terminate care, but they must do so in writing and give you adequate time to find another physician. A doctor who walks out of the delivery room or who abandons you in your 40th week of pregnancy may have violated the law.
Unprofessional conduct that endangers a patient or the public.
Malpractice or violations of medical ethics.
Allegations that a doctor is not fit to practice, such as when a doctor has a drug addiction.
Refusal to provide medical records.
Violations of medical privacy.
Violating informed consent or informed refusal laws.
The Board does not hear allegations of rude treatment. So if a doctor was rude to you, do not highlight this in your complaint. Focus instead on other issues, such as violating privacy or informed consent.
how to file a complaint
tips for writing an effective complaint
The Medical Board receives numerous complaints. Not all are serious. So it’s important to highlight the most serious aspects of your complaint, and to focus on a single provider—not provide a long-winded rant itemizing everything that went wrong during your birth. If multiple doctors were involved, you need to file a separate complaint for each physician. To have the greatest impact:
Stick to the facts. If yo have evidence documenting your claims, either attach it to your complaint or note it in your complaint.
Stick to the most serious violations. The Medical Board does not discipline doctors for rude treatment.
Use succinct and specific language. Don’t tell your entire birth story. Give only the specifics of what went wrong.
Refer to the Georgia Medical Practice Act if possible, and cite the specific sections you believe your physician violated.
If you are contemplating filing a lawsuit or currently involved in litigation, hire a lawyer and seek their advice before filing a complaint.