Index of Terms

Questionable Doctors

Index of Terms

Controlled substances, controlled dangerous substances:drugs which are regulated under the federal Controlled Substances Act because of their potential for addiction or abuse.

D.O.: the academic degree awarded to osteopathic physicians.

DEA: the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, an agency of the U.S. Justice Department. Its mission is to enforce controlled substances laws.

DEA license, DEA registration, or DEA certificate: every person who handles or prescribes controlled substances, including physicians and dentists, must legally have a registration number issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Disciplinary action: any of a number of ways a regulatory agency can limit or forbid a doctor?s practice or formally indicate its displeasure. Includes license revocations, suspensions, and probations, consent agreements placing conditions on a doctor?s continuing practice, monetary fines, and letters of reprimand.

Disciplinary action rate: total state disciplinary actions per 1,000 M.D.s practicing in a state.

Emergency suspension: a disciplinary action in which a medical board may remove a doctor from practice temporarily, without a formal disciplinary hearing, if it finds the doctor?s continued practice could endanger the public health. Generally, boards are required to then hold a formal hearing on the case within a specified time period.

Impaired physicians program: a program to rehabilitate physicians suffering from an illness. Impaired physicians programs generally serve alcohol and drug abusers, but they have also been used to aid the mentally or physically ill, as well as habitual sex offenders.


Liability insurer: a company that insures doctors against malpractice lawsuits.

M.D.: the academic degree awarded to U.S. medical doctors, or allopathic physicians.

Medical Board: used generically, any state regulatory agency that licenses and/or disciplines M.D.s. Medical boards may also license other practitioners and health care paraprofessionals.

Osteopath: a physician who graduated from a school of osteopathic medicine. Osteopaths have training in skeletal manipulation in addition to their medical training.

Peer Review Committee: a hospital committee that reviews the quality of care in the institution. The committee may admit physicians to the hospital staff or revoke or limit their privileges.

Peer Review Organization: a state-based group under contract to the federal Medicare program to audit the necessity and quality of Medicare patients? care.

Probation: a disciplinary action or agreement wherein a doctor must abide by certain conditions for a definite or indefinite period of time, or face a more severe penalty. Probationary conditions are generally tailored to the individual.

Reinstatement: issuance of a new medical license to a doctor who previously surrendered his or her license or had it revoked.

Reprimand: a formal letter to a doctor criticizing a particular episode of misconduct or poor care. Sometimes called an admonition or letter of censure.

Restriction: a disciplinary action that limits the type of medicine a doctor may practice. For instance, a doctor?s license may be restricted to prevent him or her from practicing surgery, or to limit practice to a certain clinic.


Revocation: the cancellation of a doctor?s state or DEA license. State laws regarding revocations vary.? In some states, revocations are permanent; in others, doctors may reapply for a new license immediately; in others, doctors must wait for a certain time period before reapplying.

Sanction: a formal disciplinary action.

Schedule I: controlled substances such as marijuana and heroin, which are usually held to have no approved medical purpose.

Schedule II: controlled substances with approved medical uses, but with high potential for addiction or abuse. This category includes raw opium, codeine, amphetamines, and some barbiturates.

Schedule III: controlled substances whose use may lead to low-moderate physical dependence or high psychological dependence and are therefore considered to have some potential for abuse. This category includes many barbiturates and other depressant drugs, and narcotics that include moderate amounts of codeine.

Schedule IV: controlled substances whose use may lead to limited physical and psychological dependence. This category includes Valium, Xanax, and other benzodiazepine tranquilizers, sleeping pills such as Halcion and anorectic stimulants, which are frequently used for weight loss.

Schedule V: controlled substances whose abuse potential is low.? This category includes many non-prescription narcotic antidiarrheal drugs and cough suppressants.

Scheduled drugs: see Controlled Substances.

Serious disciplinary actions: Public Citizen?s term for revocations, suspensions, surrenders, and probations, as they are reported by the Federation of State Medical Boards.

Serious disciplinary action rate: the number of revocations, suspensions, surrenders and probations per 1,000 M.D.s practicing in a state.

Summary suspension: see emergency suspension.

Surrender: a voluntary agreement by a doctor to give up his or her license to practice. Some surrender agreements permit a doctor to reapply for a new license; others are permanent.

State medical society: a local trade association of physicians. It serves no governmental function.

Stay: a stayed disciplinary action is like a suspended sentence: it does not take effect unless the doctor who has been disciplined disobeys the board or commits some further offense.

Suspension: the temporary removal of a doctor from practice. Some suspensions run for a definite period of time; others are indefinite, and a doctor must apply for the suspension to be lifted.

Triplicate prescription program: a program, now in effect in nine states, that requires copies of prescriptions for certain scheduled drugs to be sent to the state regulatory authority. Intended to prevent drug dealing and overprescribing of drugs that can easily be abused.