State urged to review doctors' licenses for possible background issues

Thousands of doctors who've been practicing in Arizona, need to have their licenses reviewed by the state.

That's the disturbing finding of a new report about the Arizona Medical Board and its licensing practices.

Earlier this year, the ABC15 investigators told you about concerns over a faster licensing process and how some background checks may have been left out.

The lengthy report by the Arizona Ombudsman Citizens' Aide, an independent investigator, found by speeding up the licensing process, the board stopped "verifying doctor's board certifications, postgraduate training and licensure from other states."

Checking those things is required by state law.

In February, Former Medical Board employee Linda Scorzo told us the faster licensing process could end up with physicians being licensed here who shouldn't be licensed.

She believes she was fired after speaking out about her concerns.

The new report shows some of those concerns may have come true, at least in the short term.

There are two examples cited of doctors given temporary licenses in Arizona, despite having serious issues in other states.  

One doctor had documented problems in two states including "a continued pattern of inappropriate care ... performed surgical procedures on the basis of inaccurate diagnoses ... committed dishonest acts."

It wasn't until each applied to the board for permanent licenses here, that they were denied.

Just how fast were doctors being licensed last year?  

The report shows while the process took 55 days on average in Nevada and 79 days in Idaho, it took just 15 days in Arizona.

Earlier this year, the board's Executive Director Lisa Wynn told us she was trying "to eliminate steps that didn't make sense anymore."

Wynn said anything that was flagged as an issue was still being investigated.

She said she never knowingly broke any law and didn't feel the faster licensing process hurt anyone.

But the new report says the day after the ABC15 Investigators story aired, Wynn "asked to meet with our office to discuss changes the board enacted to be in line with state laws."

The report claims Wynn broke 25 laws, choosing to "ignore" them and "directed staff to disregard these laws."

In response to this new report, Wynn again stated she didn't knowingly break laws and vowed to comply with them.

In February, she said she couldn't comment about personnel issues involving Linda Scorzo.

The Arizona Medical Board issued this statement on Wednesday:

"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," said Gordi Khera, M.D., Chair of the Board. The Executive Director is now required to report to the Board members steps being taken to ensure full compliance with rules and statutes."

Now it's up to the board, the state Attorney General's office and lawmakers to take any action based on the reports findings.

Read the full report.

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