According to W. Va. Code § 30-3-1, the practice of medicine and surgery and the practice of podiatry is a privilege. The West Virginia Medical Board shall issue a license to practice medicine and surgery or to practice podiatry to any individual who meets the required credentials. The applicant must provide evidence of graduation and receipt of the degree of doctor of medicine or its equivalent from a school of medicine, which is approved by the liaison committee on medical education or by the Board. The applicant must be of good moral character and must be physically and mentally fit to carry out the duties in his/her professional capacity.
In addition, the applicant must have successfully completed a minimum of one year of graduate clinical training in a program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and must pass an examination approved by the board, which examination can be related to a national standard. The applicant is required to attain a passing score on all components or steps of the examination within a period of ten consecutive years[i].
It is provided that if an applicant failed to successfully complete and pass any one of the three steps of the United States medical licensing examination (USMLE) in three attempts the Board will determine the further education, evaluation and training required for further consideration of licensure[ii].
In the case of an applicant having a foreign degree, such person shall fulfill certain credentials before taking a licensure examination. Such an applicant must have fulfilled the requirements of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates for certification or s/he must provide evidence of receipt of a passing score on the examination of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. The applicant must have either successfully completed a minimum of two years of graduate clinical training in a program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or current certification by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties[iii].
A license may not be issued to a person not previously licensed in West Virginia whose license has been revoked or suspended in another state until reinstatement of his or her license in that particular state[iv].
A license to practice medicine and surgery or podiatry is valid for a term of two years and shall be renewed upon payment of requisite fee and a certification of successful completion of a minimum of fifty hours of continuing medical or podiatric education satisfactory to the board, during the preceding two-year period[v].
According to W. Va. Code § 30-3-13, a person engaged in the practice of telemedicine is considered to be engaged in the practice of medicine and is subject to the licensure requirements.
W. Va. Code § § 30-3-13 deals with the unauthorized practice of medicine, surgery, and podiatry. Accordingly, any person who intentionally practices, or holds himself/ herself out as qualified to practice, or uses any title, abbreviation to induce others to believe that s/he is a licensed practitioner, whose license has expired, lapsed or terminated, for any period of time up to ninety days, is guilty of a misdemeanor[vi]. Such a person shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than twelve months, or both. If the license has lapsed or terminated for more than ninety days, the offense may be classified as a felony. In such a case, the fine shall be not more than $10,000 and imprisonment shall be for one year. A person practicing without a valid West Virginia license shall be subject to the same penalty[vii].
The board is authorized to independently initiate disciplinary proceedings for professional incompetence. A physician may be held unqualified based upon a criminal conviction, complaints by citizens, hospital administrators, professional societies or others. The Board shall initiate an investigation if it receives notice that three or more judgments, or any combination of judgments and settlements resulting in five or more unfavorable outcomes arising from medical professional liability have been rendered or made against the physician or podiatrist within a five-year period[viii].
The chief executive officer of every hospital shall, within sixty days after the completion of disciplinary procedure and the conclusion of any resulting legal action, report in writing to the board the name of the erring physician whose privileges have been revoked or restricted for any cause including but not limited to medical incompetence, medical professional liability, moral turpitude or drug or alcohol abuse. The same procedure shall be followed by any managed care organization.
The Board may deny an application for license and may discipline a licensed physician after a hearing. The following are valid grounds for such disciplinary action.
- Obtaining or attempting to obtain a license by bribery, fraudulent misrepresentation, or through known error of the board;
- Criminal conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude in any jurisdiction;
- False or deceptive advertising;
- Aiding, assisting, procuring or advising any unauthorized person to practice medicine and surgery or podiatry in violation of the law;
- Intentionally forging or filing a false report or intentionally or negligently failing to file a report or record required by state or federal law;
- Requesting, receiving or paying a valuable consideration for the referral of patients to any person or entity in connection with providing medical or other health care services, clinical laboratory services or supplies of drugs;
- Exercising influence within a patient-physician relationship for the purpose of engaging a patient in sexual activity;
- Failing to keep written records justifying the course of treatment of a patient;
- Prescribing, administering, otherwise preparing a prescription drug, including any controlled substance under state or federal law, other than in good faith;
- Gross negligence in the use and control of prescription forms, professional incompetence or incapacity due to mental incapacity.
The Board shall provide every physician written notice setting out with particularity the reasons for its action and disciplinary hearings as well as licensure denial hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the statute[ix]. The physician or podiatrist has the right to defend against any charge by the introduction of evidence, the right to be represented by counsel, the right to present and cross-examine witnesses and the right to have subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum issued on his/her behalf for the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents The Board shall make all its final actions public[x].
The Board can initiate any of the following disciplinary action against a physician or podiatrist who has been found guilty. The actions may include denial of application for license, administering a public reprimand, suspension of license for not more than five years including limiting the practice of that person to, or by the exclusion of, one or more areas of practice, including limitations on practice privileges. The Board is also empowered to revoke the license to practice medicine or to prescribe or dispense controlled substances for a period not to exceed ten years. In addition, the Board can require the person to submit to care, counseling or treatment designated by the board as a condition for initial or continued licensure or to participate in a program of education prescribed by the Board. The Board can also assess a civil fine between one thousand dollars and ten thousand dollars.
A physician subjected to disciplinary action has the right to judicial review[xi]. A circuit judge may also remand the matter to the board if there is newly discovered evidence which is capable of producing an opposite result at a second hearing on the merits before the board and such evidence was discovered since the board hearing[xii].
A person is prohibited from practicing medicine and surgery or podiatry in violation of any disciplinary order revoking, suspending or limiting his or her license while any appeal is pending. At the conclusion of a suspension, limitation, or restriction period the physician or podiatrist may resume practice if the board has so ordered[xiii].
If the board receives notice that a physician or podiatrist has been subjected to disciplinary action by the board, a hospital, or a professional society for three or more incidents during a five-year period, the board shall require the physician or podiatrist to practice under the direction of a physician or podiatrist designated by the board for a specified period of time to be established by the board[xiv].
The Board can also refer the matter to mediation. And the board and the physician or podiatrist may choose a mediator from that list. If the Board and the physician or podiatrist are unable to agree on a mediator, the Board shall designate a mediator from the list by neutral rotation.
[i] W. Va. Code § 30-3-10.
[iv] W. Va. Code § 30-3-10.
[v] W. Va. Code § 30-3-12.
[vi] W. Va. Code § 30-3-13.
[viii] W. Va. Code § 30-3-14.
[ix] W. Va. Code §§ 29A-5-1 et seq.
[xi] W. Va. Code §§ 29A-5-1 et seq., W. Va. Code §§ 29A-6-1 et seq.
[xiii] W. Va. Code § 30-3-14.