Judge dismisses ‘Jane Doe M.D.’ lawsuit that tried to keep substandard care allegations confidential

By Jeffrey A. Roberts
CFOIC Executive Director

A Denver judge has dismissed an anonymous physician’s legal attempt to stop the Colorado Medical Board from initiating public disciplinary proceedings against her for allegedly providing substandard care.

District Court Judge Martin Egelhoff issued the order Mar. 27, finding that the court lacks jurisdiction over the doctor’s claim that the medical board would exceed its constitutional and statutory authority and violate her due-process rights by filing a formal complaint and notice of charges with the state Office of Administrative Courts.

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The unnamed doctor, referred to as “Jane Doe, M.D.” in court documents, also claimed the OAC’s public proceedings would “irreparably” harm her reputation and professional career and that a notice of charges and formal complaint are “privileged” records under the law.

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office noted that the medical board has filed allegations publicly since its creation. Its investigative process is confidential – exempt from the Colorado Open Records Act and the Colorado Open Meetings Law – but the public learns about board actions when there is a negotiated order resulting in discipline or the board files a notice of charges.

“Members of the public have a right to be informed about relevant facts that could influence their choice of provider,” a senior assistant attorney general wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. “Similarly, for the Medical Board to fulfill its function, the public must have confidence in the process. If all Medical Board proceedings are confidential, the public has no mechanism to ensure that the Medical Board is acting consistent with the public interest.”            

The medical board received three separate complaints against Jane Doe, M.D., within a three-month period in 2018, according to court documents. The complaints alleged “unprofessional conduct” in connection with her treatment of three patients.

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