In order to obtain a license to practice medicine in North Dakota, the applicant must submit an application in prescribed form to the board through the secretary-treasurer[i]. The applicant must have successfully completed a medical licensure examination and must be of good moral character[ii]. The person must be of physical, mental, and professional capability for the practice of medicine in a manner acceptable to the board. S/he should not have a history of any malpractice which would constitute grounds for disciplinary action[iii]. The applicant must be graduates of United States and Canadian schools and must present evidence as to the successful completion of one year of postgraduate training in the United States or Canada in a program approved by the board or by an accrediting body approved by the board. Graduates of osteopathic schools located outside the United States are not eligible for licensure. A foreign graduate must show evidence of completion of three years of postgraduate training in a program located in the United States or Canada, and accredited by a national accrediting organization approved by the board. However, if the applicant has not completed the three year program, but has met all other licensing requirements and has successfully completed one year of postgraduate training in the United States or Canada and has other professional experience and training that is substantially equivalent to the second and third year of postgraduate training, then the applicant may be deemed eligible for licensure[iv]. In addition, the board may grant a temporary special license to a foreign graduate, if that applicant has met all the requirements for licensure except those pertaining to postgraduate training, who has successfully completed two years of approved postgraduate training in the United States or Canada; and is enrolled in an approved postgraduate training program in the United States[v]. It is to be noted that such a special license is valid only while the licensee continues to be enrolled in an approved postgraduate training program in the United States[vi].
A license may also be granted without examination to persons licensed in other states and the board may enter into reciprocal agreements with the licensing agencies of other states providing for a reciprocal waiver of further examination or any part thereof[vii]. The board fixes the registration fee for practicing medicine[viii]. A physician who has failed to complete the annual registration process within the stipulated time may renew the annual registration by paying a fee equal to three times the normal annual registration fee, in addition to such other penalties as are authorized by law if that physician is found to have been practicing medicine after lapse of license[ix]. And in such a case, if three years have passed since such lapse, the physician must submit a new application. The physician must comply with the continuing education requirements before renewal of license[x].
The board is empowered to take disciplinary action against erring physicians which may include revocation or suspension of license, probation, conditions for practice, letter or censure, free public service for a defined period, etc. The board is also authorized to impose fines, not to exceed five thousand dollars for any single disciplinary action[xi]. The board may take disciplinary action upon any of the following grounds:
- The use of any false, fraudulent, or forged statement or document, or the use of any fraudulent, deceitful, dishonest, or immoral practice, in connection with any of the licensing requirements.
- The making of false or misleading statements about the physician’s skill or the efficacy of any medicine, treatment, or remedy.
- The conviction of any misdemeanor determined by the board to have a direct bearing upon a person’s ability to serve the public as a practitioner of medicine or any felony.
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
- Physical or mental disability materially affecting the ability to perform the duties of a physician in a competent manner.
- Obtaining any fee by fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
- Aiding or abetting the practice of medicine by an unlicensed, incompetent, or impaired person.
- The violation of any provision of a medical practice act or the rules and regulations of the board, or any action, stipulation, condition, or agreement imposed by the board or its investigative panels.
- The practice of medicine under a false or assumed name or deceptive advertising of services.
- Representation to a patient that a manifestly incurable condition, sickness, disease, or injury can be cured.
- The willful or negligent violation of the confidentiality between physician and patient or gross negligence in the practice of medicine.
- The failure of a doctor of osteopathy to designate that person’s school of practice in the professional use of that person’s name by such terms as “osteopathic physician and surgeon”, “doctor of osteopathy”, “D.O.”, or similar terms.
- Sexual abuse, misconduct, or exploitation related to the licensee’s practice of medicine.
- The prescription, sale, administration, distribution, or gift of any drug legally classified as a controlled substance.
- Illegal referrals.
- Failure to transfer medical records to another physician or to supply copies of those records to the patient or to the patient’s representative or the use of any false, fraudulent, or deceptive statement in any document connected with the practice of medicine.
- A continued pattern of inappropriate care as a physician, including unnecessary surgery[xii].
The board can ex parte temporarily suspend the license of a physician if such immediate suspension of the physician’s license is required to reasonably protect the public from that risk of harm[xiii].
An ex parte temporary suspension remains in effect until a final order is issued after a full hearing or appeal under this section or until the suspension is otherwise terminated by the board. The hearing on the disciplinary action must be held not later than thirty days from the issuance of the ex parte temporary suspension order and the physician is entitled to a continuance of the thirty-day period upon request for a period determined by the hearing officer. The physician may appeal the ex parte temporary suspension order prior to the full hearing[xiv].
Practicing without a license is a class B misdemeanor. In addition to the criminal penalties provided, the civil remedy of injunction is available to restrain and enjoin violations by such erring physicians without proof of actual damages sustained by any person[xv].
[i] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-17.
[ii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-18.
[vii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-21.
[viii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-25.
[ix] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-26.1.
[x] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-27.1.
[xi] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-30.1.
[xii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-31.
[xiii] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-32.1.
[xv] N.D. Cent. Code, § 43-17-34.