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Some Nevada Medical Board investigations dragging on for seven years, records show

Some Nevada Medical Board investigations dragging on for seven years
Some Nevada Medical Board investigations dragging on for seven years
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Heidi Keen of Minden filed a complaint against her doctor in 2019 after she underwent surgery and says she ended up with long term health problems as a result.

"There's a lot of PTSD that I have from the doctor because I'm still undergoing procedures to fix what he did," she told us.

Keen is still waiting for answers from the Nevada State Medical Board four years later. She says she's been told the case has been handed off to three different doctors as part of the board's peer review process.

"The process is very slow," she said.

We wanted to know just how long some complaints are taking to get resolved. The Medical Board's executive director declined to share that information when we first asked, telling us in a November email:

"I am unable to provide any information relating to any board investigation(s)."

But when we filed a public records request, the Medical Board did provide us with the information we asked for about the timelines for those investigations.

PREVIOUS COVREAGE | Patients wait years for Nevada Medical Board to investigate complaints, state audit shows

What we found is there are 455 total pending complaints. Most of those, 301, were filed last year with 81 in 2021, 37 in 2020 and 22 filed in 2019.

Going back further, there are eight outstanding complaints that were filed in 2018, three go back to 2017 and three more date back to 2016. That's up to seven years that some cases have been in under investigation with no resolution.

So why do some investigations drag on for up to seven years? The Medical Board tells us there's a police investigation into those three complaints from 2016, the oldest pending complaints on file, and the law enforcement agency has asked the Medical Board not to interfere. So seven years later, that's why there's been no disciplinary action taken in those cases.

Reno attorney Julie Throop specializes in medical malpractice cases. She says many cases go to court lacking important evidence, that is findings from the Medical Board, when investigations are not finished in a timely manner.

"If the Medical Board is taking longer than a year, upwards of seven years, then by the law its too late for attorneys to be able to use any of the information," she said.

And for those like Heidi Keen, there's an emotional toll when you feel you've been harmed and no one in charge is listening.

"Because it's almost like you're being victimized again with waiting," she said.

The Medical Board's Executive Director, Ed Cousineau, declined to speak on camera for this story. He told us over the phone that staffing issues can make it tough to complete investigations in a timely manner.

Following a state audit last year, the board has made to changes to prioritize cases where there could be a danger to the public based on the allegations in the complaint.

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