Questions raised about unqualified doctors practicing in Arizona

An independent state agency recommends auditing licenses for thousands of doctors.

Should the state check thousands of Arizona doctor's licenses to see if they're qualified to practice?

A legislative committee heard that recommendation as a way to deal with the Arizona Medical Board and accusations it wasn't doing it's job.

For more than an hour, Arizona Ombudsman Dennis Wells told legislators about allegations involving the board not properly checking doctor's backgrounds.

It's part of a report the office released last month.

The findings led to the firing of the Board's Executive Director Lisa Wynn.

Wells says Wynn "believed she had the purview to not follow rules of law. She believed she had authority to interpret the rules as she saw fit."

The Ombudsman report alleges Wynn pushed the board into a faster licensing process. In doing so, the report alleges she and the board broke state laws.

The ABC15 Investigators first reported on complaints about doctor licensing in February.

At that time, Wynn defended the faster process saying "not one single patient safety issue has come up because of that decision."

At Wednesday's legislative hearing, our initial investigation became part of the Ombudsman's timeline of important events.

"ABC15 made a broadcast about AMB's (Arizona Medical Board) licensing process. It's key, because the next day, the Executive Director asked to meet with the Ombudsman's office," Wells told legislators.

Medical Board Chairman Dr. Gordi Khera also saw our investigation. He says he talked with Wynn immediately after that.

"As a result of this TV report, I specifically contacted the ED (Executive Director) to follow all rules and statues without fail."

Still, the Ombudsman report alleges rules continued to be broken.

Khera says the medical board is now trying to follow all Ombudsman recommendations and state laws.

Five recommendations would take legislative action including the start of criminal background checks.

It's also recommended that an audit be performed on the licensing of more than 2,000 doctors and renewals of possibly 20,000 doctors. Those licenses were given during a time certain background checks may not have been made.

"The potential does exist that doctors are out there who should not have licenses today,"  Wells said.

An audit would be expensive and no decision was made Wednesday.

Legislators were concerned that board members were kept out of the loop on important matters..

At one time, board chairman Khera admitted the few hours of training to become a board member was in his words "inadequate for sure."

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