Arkansas Regulation of Physicians
The Arkansas regulation of physicians are found in A.C.A. §§ 17-95-401 through A.C.A. §§ 17-95-412. A.C.A. § 17-95-401 provides that if any person who does not possess a valid license to practice medicine within this state and who is not exempted from the licensing requirements does any of the acts constituting the practice of medicine, he or she shall be deemed to be practicing medicine without complying with the provisions of the Arkansas Medical Practices Act, §§ 17-95-201, 17-95-207, 17-95-301, 17-95-305, 17-95-401, and 17-95-411.
Pursuant to the statutes, every person who practices or attempts to practice medicine in any of its branches or who performs or attempts to perform any surgical operation for any person or upon any person within this state without first having complied with the provisions of the Arkansas Medical Practices Act, §§ 17-95-201 — 17-95-207, 17-95-301 — 17-95-305, and 17-95-401 — 17-95-411, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon conviction he or she shall be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500) or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not less than one (1) month nor more than eleven (11) months, or by both fine and imprisonment. Each day of such a practice shall constitute a separate offense. The courts of record of this state having general equity jurisdiction are vested with jurisdiction and power to enjoin the unlawful practice of medicine in a proceeding by the Arkansas State Medical Board or any member thereof, or by any citizen of this state, in the county in which the alleged unlawful practice occurred or in which the defendant resides. The issuance of an injunction shall not relieve a person from criminal prosecution for violation of the provisions of the Arkansas Medical Practices Act, §§ 17-95-201 — 17-95-207, 17-95-301 — 17-95-305, and 17-95-401 — 17-95-411, but the remedy of injunction shall be in addition to liability to criminal prosecution. It is declared that any person who practices or attempts to practice medicine in the State of Arkansas without first obtaining a license authorizing him or her to so practice medicine is a public nuisance, and it is declared that the illegal practice of medicine in violation of the laws of the State of Arkansas is a public nuisance and is detrimental to the health, safety, security, and welfare of the people of the State of Arkansas[i].
Pursuant to A.C.A. § 17-95-403, every person desiring a license to practice medicine shall make application to the Arkansas State Medical Board. The application shall be verified by oath and shall be in such form as shall be prescribed by the board. The application shall be accompanied by the license fee and such documents, affidavits, and certificates as are necessary to establish that the applicant possesses the qualifications prescribed by this section, apart from any required examination by the board. The burden of proof shall be upon the applicant, but the board may make such independent investigation as it may deem advisable to determine whether the applicant possesses the qualifications and whether the applicant has at any time committed any of the acts or offenses herein defined as unprofessional conduct. No person shall be granted a license to practice medicine in the State of Arkansas unless s/he:
(1) Is at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
(2) Is of good moral character and has not been guilty of acts constituting unprofessional conduct as defined in § 17-95-409;
(3)(A) Is a graduate of:
(i) A recognized United States or Canadian medical school whose entrance requirements and course of instruction have been approved by the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association;
(ii) A Canadian eclectic medical school which has been approved by the Council on Medical Education of the National Eclectic Medical Association; or
(iii) (a) A foreign medical school whose entrance requirements and course of instruction have been approved by the board.
(b) He or she must also have:
(1) Served three (3) years as an intern or resident in an accredited postgraduate medical education program in the United States; or
(2) Completed one (1) year as an intern or resident in an accredited postgraduate medical education program in the United States and be currently enrolled in an accredited postgraduate medical program in Arkansas.
However, the board at such time as it deems expedient may require the following of every applicant for licensure:
- A properly verified certificate that he or she has served one (1) year of internship in a general accredited hospital; or
- A certificate of his or her service in an accredited postgraduate medical education program as described in subdivision (b)(3)(A)(iii)(b) of this section; and
- Has successfully passed an examination approved by the board as set forth in its rules and regulations.
The annual license or reregistration fee of a physician licensed by the Arkansas State Medical Board to practice medicine in the State of Arkansas shall be paid before or during the birth month of the license holder beginning in 1998, and each year thereafter. During the implementation year of 1998, fees shall be prorated. Failure to pay the annual reregistration fee as provided in this section by the last day of the birth month of the license holder shall cause the license to practice medicine in the State of Arkansas of any person so failing to pay the reregistration fee to expire automatically. Any delinquent licentiate may be reinstated by paying all delinquent fees and a penalty of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each year or part thereof that he or she has been delinquent. If any licentiate fails for three (3) consecutive years to pay the reregistration fee, it shall be the duty of the board, without hearing or notice, to cancel and revoke his or her license, subject to reinstatement. If application for reinstatement is made, the board shall consider the moral character and professional qualifications of the applicant upon notice and hearing before ordering reinstatement. Unless such a showing shall thereupon be made to the board as would entitle the applicant to the issuance of an original license, reinstatement shall be denied. The applicant for reinstatement shall file a written application and pay the same fees required for the issuance of an original license. Any person practicing his or her profession while his or her license is suspended or after it has been canceled pursuant to this section shall be subject to the penalties prescribed by law[ii].
A.C.A. § 17-95-409 provides that the Arkansas State Medical Board may revoke an existing license, impose penalties as listed in § 17-95-410, or refuse to issue a license in the event the holder or applicant, as the case may be, has committed any of the acts or offenses defined in this section to be unprofessional conduct. The words “unprofessional conduct”, as used in the Arkansas Medical Practices Act, § 17-95-201 et seq., § 17-95-301 et seq., and § 17-95-401 et seq., mean:
- Conviction of any crime involving moral turpitude or conviction of a felony.
- Resorting to fraud, misrepresentation, or deception in applying for or securing a license to practice medicine, in taking the examination for the license, or in seeking a renewal of a license;
- Aiding or abetting an unlicensed person to practice medicine;
- Procuring or aiding or abetting in procuring a wrongful and criminal abortion;
- Violation of the laws of the United States or the State of Arkansas regulating the possession, distribution, or use of narcotic or controlled drugs classed in Schedules 1-5 of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 or the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, §§ 5-64-101 — 5-64-608, including any amendments thereto;
- Habitual indulgence in the use of alcohol to such an extent as to render himself or herself incapable of exercising that degree of skill and judgment in the treatment of his or her patients which the moral trust and confidence in him or her demands;
- Grossly negligent or ignorant malpractice;
- Habitual, intemperate, or excessive use of narcotics or of any other habit-forming drugs;
- Representing to a patient that a manifestly incurable condition of sickness, disease, or injury can be permanently cured;
- Becoming physically or mentally incompetent to practice medicine to such an extent as to endanger the public;
- Insanity or mental disease, if evidenced by an adjudication or by voluntary commitment to an institution for treatment of a mental disease or as determined by an examination conducted by three (3) impartial psychiatrists retained by the board;
- Soliciting for patronage; advertising for patronage in a false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading manner; advertising the quality of medical services; or advertising illegal procedures and practices;
- Offering, undertaking, attempting, or agreeing to cure or treat disease by a secret method, procedure, treatment, or medicine or representing, directly or indirectly, that he or she can treat, operate on, or prescribe for any human condition by a method, means, or procedure which he or she refuses to divulge upon demand to the board;
- The willful betraying of a professional secret;
- Persistent and flagrant overcharging or overtreating of patients;
- Violating a rule of the board;
- Violating a term of probation or an order previously imposed by the board;
- Having been found in violation of a statute or a rule governing the practice of medicine by a medical licensing authority or agency of another state; and
- Committing an ethical violation as determined by the board by rule.
Upon receipt of a final order from another agency of the State of Arkansas or a final order from a court of this state after all appeal rights have been exhausted that finds a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state has breached the loan contract entered into by the physician under § 6-81-701 et seq., the board may suspend the license of that physician. The suspension shall be for a period of years equivalent to the number of years that the recipient is obligated to practice medicine in a rural area but has not so practiced and until the loan with interest together with any civil money penalties, as reduced by each full year of medical practice according to the terms of the loan contract, is paid in full. Upon notification from the Dean of the College of Medicine of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Director of the Department of Health that exigent circumstances warrant a waiver of the suspension, the board shall reinstate the holder’s license. In deciding whether to suspend a holder’s medical license, the board may, at its discretion, adopt any or all recommendations, findings of fact, and conclusions of law issued or adopted by the Arkansas Rural Medical Practice Student Loan and Scholarship Board, an arbitrator, or a court.
[i] A.C.A. § 17-95-402.
[ii] A.C.A. § 17-95-408.