NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Monthly reports are released by the Tennessee Department of Health and outline all disciplinary action taken by health-related boards regulating medical professionals in the state.

David Silvus is the Chief Deputy General Counsel at the Office of General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Health. “Medical doctors, regulate medical doctors. Nurses, regulate nurses, and so on,” he explained. “That authority is given to them by the General Assembly in each of those professions. We’re generally a complaint-driven system. generally, we don’t look into doctors or nurses, absent a complaint from the public, which can be made by anybody.”

When an investigation concludes, and wrongdoing is found, the findings are then made public. These reports show a variety of violations from expired licenses, to the wrongful distribution of a controlled substance, to unauthorized use or removal of narcotics, supplies, or equipment.

“By and large, thankfully, it’s always been true that the vast majority of our doctors and nurses have never done anything that would cause any problems,” Silvus said.

For those that do, there are consequences outlined by the board that ranges from fines to suspension and sometimes more. “We can move very quickly on our own, if we believe there is an imminent risk of harm to the individual or to the public as a whole, we can take someone’s license away,” said Silvus.

But the board is not required by law to inform authorities of criminal activity.

“Oftentimes in the overprescribing realm, we sort of are encountering the same actors, as maybe the DEA or Health and Human Services,” Silvus said. “We’re certainly not free to share information with them freely because of confidentiality, but we will oftentimes receive subpoenas from those law enforcement agencies for information.”

Silvus says that doesn’t happen as often as it may have in the past. “There has been a shift probably in the last eight to 10 years in prescribing habits across the state and I think some of that’s probably a function of tighter regulation, and also a better awareness on the part of prescribers, doctors, nurses, and physician assistants.”

Even still Silvus stresses, if you believe unethical behavior is happening – report it.

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