Report says Arizona medical board broke laws

PHOENIX - A report released Wednesday has disturbing findings about the Arizona Medical Board (AMB) and whether it licensed doctors that they shouldn't have.

In February of this year, the ABC 15 Investigators raised questions about the board adapting a considerably faster licensing process.

According to this new report, those practices broke the law.

We spoke to Linda Scorzo and Eric Evans back in February.

Both are former AMB employees.

"To me it's a matter of time before someone is harmed," said Scorzo.

"We need to know where they previously worked, if there was ever an incident where they worked. And, if there was ever an incident, was it rectified or not?" according to Evans

Both say they were fired because they spoke up about an edict to speed up the licensing process by cutting some licensing checks.

I asked Scrozo what could happen if the process was shortened.

She said, "You could have an applicant, physician with a problem in another state out here who you don't want practicing."

Medical board director Lisa Wynn disputed the former employees' claims when we spoke to her earlier this year.

"What I can't live with is the thought of taking months and months and months to license doctors with clean medical records, just so we can look under very rock," said Wynn. 

Wynn maintained that the sped up process did not harm anyone.

She said at the time, she could not comment about personnel matters involving claims by Scorzo and Evans that they were fired for speaking out.

After a lengthy investigation, the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizen Aide released its 180 page scathing report.

It specifically states that after our ABC15 report aired in February, "the next day, the executive director asked to meet with our office to discuss changes the board enacted to be in line with state laws."

The report claims laws were broken.

In fact, 19 of 20 allegations were substantiated.  

They included the board's stopping verification of doctor's board certification, postgraduate training, and licensure from other states where applicants held medical licenses.

The report said that the board emphasized "speed over a number of laws that govern licensing of medical doctors."

Additionally, the report called for a state review of licenses issued since September 2011. 

In a statement, Gordi Khera, M.D., Chair of the Arizona Medical Board responded: 

" The Board takes very seriously the Ombudsman's report and its recommendations for corrective action. Any previous noncompliance of statutes and regulations under the direction of the Executive Director now known to the Board were addressed this year by the Board immediately. The Arizona Medical Board continues to work diligently to ensure the Agency's Executive Director and Administration is in compliance with rules and statutes.  The Executive Director is now required to report to the Board members steps being taken to ensure full compliance with rules and statutes."

Despite its damaging findings, the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizen Aide can only recommend changes. Any disciplinary action would have to come from the board itself or the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

The report went to the Arizona Legislature. On Wednesday night, Senator Nancy Barto called the report "very troubling."

"I will be reviewing the report in its entirety and considering all of the options before the next legislative session," she said.

The ABC15 Investigators will continue checking with those agencies for updates.

We will continue checking with those agencies for updates.

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