Iowa Regulation of Physicians

The Iowa regulations of physicians are found in Iowa Code §§ 147.1 through 148.13.  A person shall not engage in the practice of medicine and surgery, podiatry, osteopathic medicine and surgery, psychology, chiropractic, physical therapy, physical therapist assisting, nursing, dentistry, dental hygiene, dental assisting, optometry, speech pathology, audiology, occupational therapy, occupational therapy assisting, respiratory care, pharmacy, cosmetology arts and sciences, barbering, social work, dietetics, marital and family therapy or mental health counseling, massage therapy, mortuary science, athletic training, acupuncture, nursing home administration, hearing aid dispensing, or sign language interpreting or transliterating, or shall not practice as a physician assistant, unless the person has obtained a license for that purpose from the board for the profession[i].

Iowa Code § 147.3 provides that an applicant for a license to practice a profession under this subtitle is not ineligible because of age, citizenship, sex, race, religion, marital status, or national origin, although the application form may require citizenship information.  A board may consider the past criminal record of an applicant only if the conviction relates to the practice of the profession for which the applicant requests to be licensed.  A board may refuse to grant a license to practice a profession to any person otherwise qualified upon any of the grounds for which a license may be revoked or suspended[ii].

Every license to practice a profession shall be in the form of a certificate under the seal of the board.  Such license shall be issued in the name of the board.  This section shall not apply to a person who is licensed in another state and recognized for licensure in this state pursuant to the nurse licensure compact contained in section 152E.1 or pursuant to the advanced practice registered nurse compact contained in section 152E.3[iii].

Pursuant to Iowa Code § 147.55A, a licensee’s license to practice a profession shall be revoked or suspended, or the licensee otherwise disciplined by the board for that profession, when the licensee is guilty of any of the following acts or offenses:

  • Fraud in procuring a license.
  • Professional incompetence.
  • Knowingly making misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations in the practice of a profession or engaging in unethical conduct or practice harmful or detrimental to the public.  Proof of actual injury need not be established.
  • Habitual intoxication or addiction to the use of drugs.
  • Conviction of a crime related to the profession or occupation of the licensee or the conviction of any crime that would affect the licensee’s ability to practice within a profession.  A copy of the record of conviction or plea of guilty shall be conclusive evidence.
  • Fraud in representations as to skill or ability.
  • Use of untruthful or improbable statements in advertisements.
  • Willful or repeated violations of the provisions of this chapter, chapter 272C, or a board’s enabling statute.
  • Other acts or offenses as specified by board rule.

Any person violating any provision of this or the following chapters of this subtitle, except insofar as the provisions apply or relate to or affect the practice of pharmacy, or where a specific penalty is otherwise provided, shall be guilty of a serious misdemeanor[iv].

The board, after due notice and hearing in accordance with chapter 17A, may issue an order to discipline a licensee for any of the grounds set forth in section 147.55, chapter 272C, or this subsection.  Notwithstanding section 272C.3, licensee discipline may include a civil penalty not to exceed ten thousand dollars.  Pursuant to this section, the board may discipline a licensee who is guilty of any of the following acts or offenses:

  • Knowingly making misleading, deceptive, untrue or fraudulent representation in the practice of the physician’s profession.
  • Being convicted of a felony in the courts of this state or another state, territory, or country. Conviction as used in this paragraph shall include a conviction of an offense which if committed in this state would be deemed a felony without regard to its designation elsewhere, or a criminal proceeding in which a finding or verdict of guilt is made or returned, but the adjudication of guilt is either withheld or not entered. A certified copy of the final order or judgment of conviction or plea of guilty in this state or in another state shall be conclusive evidence.
  • Violating a statute or law of this state, another state, or the United States, without regard to its designation as either felony or misdemeanor, which statute or law relates to the practice of medicine.
  • Having the license to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery revoked or suspended, or having other disciplinary action taken by a licensing authority of another state, territory, or country. A certified copy of the record or order of suspension, revocation, or disciplinary action is prima facie evidence.
  • Knowingly aiding, assisting, procuring, or advising a person to unlawfully practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery.
  • Being adjudged mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction. Such adjudication shall automatically suspend a license for the duration of the license unless the board orders otherwise.
  • Being guilty of a willful or repeated departure from, or the failure to conform to, the minimal standard of acceptable and prevailing practice of medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery in which proceeding actual injury to a patient need not be established; or the committing by a physician of an act contrary to honesty, justice, or good morals, whether the same is committed in the course of the physician’s practice or otherwise, and whether committed within or without this state.
  • Inability to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery with reasonable skill and safety by reason of illness, drunkenness, excessive use of drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or other type of material or as a result of a mental or physical condition.

The board may, upon probable cause, compel a physician to submit to a mental or physical examination by designated physicians or to submit to alcohol or drug screening within a time specified by the board.  A person licensed to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery who makes application for the renewal of a license, as required by section 147.10, gives consent to submit to a mental or physical examination as provided by this paragraph “h” when directed in writing by the board.  All objections shall be waived as to the admissibility of an examining physicians’ testimony or examination reports on the grounds that they constitute privileged communication.  The medical testimony or examination reports shall not be used against a physician in another proceeding and shall be confidential, except for other actions filed against a physician to revoke or suspend a license.  Willful or repeated violation of lawful rule or regulation adopted by the board or violating a lawful order of the board, previously entered by the board in a disciplinary or licensure hearing, or violating the terms and provisions of a consent agreement or informal settlement between a licensee and the board.  A person violating the provisions of section 147.2, 147.84, or 147.85, shall upon conviction be guilty of a class “D” felony[v].

A proceeding for the revocation or suspension of a license to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery or to discipline a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery shall be substantially in accord with the following procedure:

1.  The board may, upon its own motion or upon receipt of a complaint in writing, order an investigation.  The board may, upon its own motion, order a hearing.  A written notice of the time and place of the hearing together with a statement of the charges shall be served upon the licensee at least ten days before the hearing in the manner required for the service of notice of the commencement of an ordinary action or by restricted certified mail.

2.  If the whereabouts of the licensee is unknown, service may be had by publication as provided in the rules of civil procedure upon filing the affidavit required by the rules.  In case the licensee fails to appear, either in person or by counsel at the time and place designated in the notice, the board shall proceed with the hearing as provided in this section.

3. a.  The hearing shall be before a member or members designated by the board or before an administrative law judge appointed by the board according to the requirements of section 17A.11, subsection 1.  The presiding board member or administrative law judge may issue subpoenas, administer oaths, and take or cause depositions to be taken in connection with the hearing.  The presiding board member or administrative law judge shall issue subpoenas at the request and on behalf of the licensee.

b.  The administrative law judge shall be an attorney vested with full authority of the board to schedule and conduct hearings.  The administrative law judge shall prepare and file with the board the administrative law judge’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, together with a complete written transcript of all testimony and evidence introduced at the hearing and all exhibits, pleas, motions, objections, and rulings of the administrative law judge.

4.  Disciplinary hearings held pursuant to section 272C.6, subsection 1, shall be heard by the board, or by a panel of not less than six members, at least three of whom are board members, and the remaining appointed pursuant to section 148.2A, with no more than three of the six being public members.  Notwithstanding chapters 17A and 21, a disciplinary hearing shall be open to the public at the discretion of the licensee.

5.  A record of the proceedings shall be kept. The licensee shall have the opportunity to appear personally and by an attorney, with the right to produce evidence on the licensee’s own behalf, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to examine documentary evidence produced against the licensee.

6.  If a person refuses to obey a subpoena issued by the presiding member or administrative law judge or to answer a proper question during the hearing, the presiding member or administrative law judge may invoke the aid of a court of competent jurisdiction or judge of this court in requiring the attendance and testimony of the person and the production of papers.  A failure to obey the order of the court may be punished by the court as a civil contempt may be punished.

7.  Unless the hearing is before the entire board, a transcript of the proceeding, together with exhibits presented, shall be considered by the entire board at the earliest practicable time.  The licensee and the licensee’s attorney shall have the opportunity to appear personally to present the licensee’s position and arguments to the board.  The board shall determine the charge or charges upon the merits on the basis of the evidence in the record before it.

8.  If a majority of the members of the board vote in favor of finding the licensee guilty of an act or offense specified in section 147.55 or 148.6, the board shall prepare written findings of fact and its decision imposing one or more of the following disciplinary measures:

a.  Suspend the licensee’s license to practice the profession for a period to be determined by the board.

b.  Revoke the licensee’s license to practice the profession.

c.  Suspend imposition of judgment and penalty or impose the judgment and penalty, but suspend enforcement and place the physician on probation. The probation ordered may be vacated upon noncompliance.  The board may restore and reissue a license to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery, but may impose a disciplinary or corrective measure which the board might originally have imposed.  A copy of the board’s order, findings of fact, and decision, shall be served on the licensee in the manner of service of an original notice or by certified mail return receipt requested.

9.  Judicial review of the board’s action may be sought in accordance with the terms of the Iowa administrative procedure Act, chapter 17A.

10.  The board’s order revoking or suspending a license to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery or to discipline a licensee shall remain in force and effect until the appeal is finally determined and disposed of upon its merit[vi].

Iowa Code § 148.9 provides that any person whose license has been suspended may apply to the board for reinstatement at any time and the board may hold a hearing on any such petition and may order reinstatement and impose terms and conditions thereof and issue a certificate of reinstatement.

[i] Iowa Code § 147.2.

[ii] Iowa Code § 147.4.

[iii] Iowa Code § 147.5.

[iv] Iowa Code § 147.86.

[v] Iowa Code § 148.6.

[vi] Iowa Code § 148.7.


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