The Board receives and investigates complaints against physicians and assistants to physicians by patients, patient surrogates, other healthcare providers, and members of the public. After the investigation is complete, the Board makes a determination whether the conduct rose to the level of disciplining the license or whether some lesser measure is appropriate.
Who we regulate:
- Medical doctors (MD)
- Doctors of osteopathy (DO)
- Physician assistants (PA)
- Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners/Certified Nurse Midwives (CRNP/CNM) (controlled substances prescribing only)
We do not regulate:
- Registered nurses
- Other health professionals
- Nursing homes
- Surgical centers
- Other health care facilities
Our authority is to:
- Receive and investigate complaints.
- Conduct investigations.
- Enforce regulations.
- Impose sanctions when a violation of law or regulation has occurred.
The Board has no jurisdiction over actions concerning fees.
After receiving a complaint, we:
- Determine whether it is within our jurisdiction.
- Respond to the complainant and acknowledge receipt.
- May ask for additional information.
- May contact you for a statement.
Once the investigation is complete:
- Results of the investigation are reviewed by the Board.
- Board votes on a disposition.
- Complainant is notified by disposition.
Possible Board decisions:
- There is no basis for action against the license.
- Licensee will receive a non-disciplinary letter of concern.
- Records are further reviewed by an expert.
- Investigation is continued to obtain additional information.
- Disciplinary charges are filed.
To file a complaint:
- Download complaint form and instructions.
- Read instructions.
- Complete complaint form and release.
- Return original forms to the address listed on the forms.
What happens next:
- You will receive written acknowledgment of receipt of your complaint.
- You may be mailed a request for additional information.
- You may be contacted by an investigator for the board.
- You will be notified of the Board’s decision.
Who can file a complaint?
Complaints are received from any source, including, but not limited to: consumers, patients, licensees, facilities, employers, employees, other licensing boards, etc.
Can I file a complaint anonymously?
We do not accept anonymous complaints. However, complainants can request that we protect their identity during the investigative phase, with the caveat that, depending on the type of case and charges filed, we may be required to disclose the complainant’s identity if the case proceeds to a hearing.
How do I find out if my physician has been disciplined?
Please see Public Actions
How long does the process take?
Each case is different, so the process time will vary. Each complaint is thoroughly investigated and reviewed.
Can you contact the physician on my behalf?
Unfortunately, there is no instantaneous action we can take on your behalf. However, if you file a complaint, we can begin an investigation and look into the matter.
Will I be granted money damages or reimbursement?
We do not have the authority to order reimbursement or award damages. You may wish to contact the civil court in your jurisdiction for additional information.
Should I contact a lawyer?
You are not required to have a lawyer to file a complaint. It is your determination whether to engage an attorney. The Board cannot provide legal advice to complainants.
Is there a statute of limitations on filing a complaint against a physician?
There is no statute of limitations for filing a complaint against a licensed physician; however, be aware that the passage of time may affect our ability to gather the information necessary to make a decision on your complaint.
How do I look up information on a doctor?
Click here to look up a licensee. We provide the following information:
- License number
- Original issue date
- Expiration date
- Year of birth
- Specialty (provided by licensee; not verified)
- Medical school and dates attended
- Whether there are any disciplinary actions against the license (includes restrictions, probation, etc.)
- Alabama Controlled Substances Certificate (controlled substances prescribing authority)
- Collaborative practices with nurse practitioners or registration agreements with PAs
The following information is not available:
- Patient complaints (confidential by state law)
- Malpractice case information in possession of the Board (confidential by state law)
- Whether a physician accepts Medicare/Medicaid or a particular type of insurance
- Whether a physician is board certified (see www.abms.org for this information)
Can you refer me to a doctor?
- We cannot make physician referrals.
- You may contact local hospital physician referral lines or contact your health insurance carrier.
How do I file a complaint against a doctor?
See our complaints page for complete information, instructions and forms.
Can a doctor charge me for a copy of my medical records?
Yes, although there is a limit to what can be charged:
- $1 a page for the first 25 pages
- $.50 for each page in excess of 25
- Actual cost of mailing
- Actual cost of x-rays or other special records
Can a doctor withhold copies of medical records?
- A doctor MAY condition the release of copies on payment of the copying fees.
- A doctor MAY NOT condition the release of copies on payment of an unpaid bill.
How long must a doctor retain medical records?
- According to Board Rule 540-X-9-.10, "as long as necessary for medical and legal purposes."
- Ten years from the date of the last visit is generally suggested.
How can I locate my records from a doctor who has moved, retired or died?
- Call or visit the old office and ask who has possession of the doctor's records.
- If you are unable to speak with anyone from the old office, check with the local hospitals, chamber of commerce, county medical society or police department; sometimes they will have information on the physician's whereabouts.
- If you know the physician is deceased, call the local probate court to find out who is the administrator of the estate (court records will list a telephone number); call the administrator for assistance.
- Contact our office and see if we have been given any information (this occurs infrequently).
Can a doctor refuse to accept me as a patient?
Yes, doctors and patients both have the prerogative to choose whether to enter or terminate a physician-patient relationship.
Can a doctor terminate me as a patient?
Once a physician-patient relationship has been established, a doctor may not discontinue treatment that is necessary without having given reasonable notice and assistance in finding alternate care.
My doctor has just been arrested/lost his/her license. Where do I get medical care?
Your doctor still has an obligation to provide for your care. In some instances, your doctor will still be able to practice. If your doctor can no longer practice medicine, your doctor has an obligation to help you obtain care elsewhere.
My doctor says he/she cannot prescribe to me anymore. What can I do?
First, you need to determine whether your doctor has been prescribing you controlled substances or not. Drugs containing opioids, pain killers, sedatives, amphetamines, and muscle relaxers are often controlled. Your doctor may no longer be able to provide these medications to you. In most cases, your doctor will still be able to prescribe blood pressure medication, diabetic medication, and things of that nature. If your doctor has been prohibited from prescribing controlled substances, you will have to seek care from another physician.
I think I may be going through withdrawals. What should I do?
If you have a primary care physician, call him or her and explain the situation. Your primary care physician can treat you while you look for another provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, the emergency room can treat you for withdrawal.
My new doctor didn’t give me the same medicine my old doctor did. What should I do?
Every physician has the responsibility to take care of you to the best of his or her ability, which means the physician must make a judgment about what is needed to treat your condition. Different physicians may treat the same medical conditions differently. Ask your new physician to explain why his or her treatment decision differs from your previous physician's and to explain its pros and cons. Remember: your physician is always trying to do what is best for you, but you always have the right to seek a second opinion or seek care elsewhere.
I can’t get my medical records from my old physician. What should I do?
You have a right to your medical records. Your old physician should arrange to provide them to you or transfer them to the new physician of your choice. He or she may provide these at no cost or may charge a small processing fee. Your physician’s duty to you continues even after he or she is arrested or disciplined. If your physician will not transfer your medical records, please contact the Board of Medical Examiners at 334-242-4116.