New Mexico

New Mexico allows attorneys with no medical training to preside over license suspension hearings where the standard of care delivered by the defendant physician is at issue.

The hearing officer must weigh the evidence, determine credibility of expert witnesses and then issue findings of fact and conclusions of law. These are sent to the board members who then vote whether to uphold the suspension.

During a suspension hearing in New Mexico, a hearing officer, with no medical training, thought the board’s expert was more credible than the defendant physician. The hearing officer recommended suspension of his license. I read the transcript of the suspension hearing and was shocked by the so called expert criticisms. I disagreed with all the criticisms and could not understand how the expert was ever considered credible. I could find no basis for them in medical science. After I deposed that expert, the board had to withdraw him.

How does suspending a physician’s license based on a withdrawn expert’s opinion square with due process and equal protection under the law? It does not and cannot be reconciled by deploying mental gymnastics. Why does the New Mexico Medical Board use lawyers with no medical training to preside over hearings concerning standard of care issues when a physician’s license is at stake? Physicians considering practicing in New Mexico should be aware of how the New Mexico Medical Board conducts such hearings. A medical license is a precious resource and should be protected by adequate due process, which includes physicians determining standard of care issues.