ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Thursday overturned the 1993 license revocation of former Baltimore County neurosurgeon Henry A. Young.
By reversing a Baltimore County trial court’s decision to uphold action by the state Board of Physician Quality Assurance, the court said that administrative agencies — especially the one that licenses and disciplines Maryland physicians — must comply with their own guidelines, rules and regulations.
J. Michael Compton, the board’s executive director, said the court’s decision surprised him, adding that board decisions usually are returned to the agency for review, rather than overturned.
“The board is careful of what it does. It always tries to afford physicians due process,” Compton said. “The board always has been a stickler to follow all necessary procedures and they believe they did in this case.”
At issue is the status of the board’s procedures for disciplining physicians.
The board contends its guidelines, such as the way physicians’ case records are reviewed, are only recommendations or established procedures to which the board mostly adheres.
The court contends these guidelines are mandatory and should be followed explicitly.
Young, who now lives in another state, had been licensed to practice medicine in Maryland since 1986. In November 1990, a registered nurse complained to the board that Young had provided an opinion on her work-related injury without conducting an appropriate neurological examination.
In response to the complaint, the board reviewed a number of Young’s surgeries at Franklin Square Hospital in Rosedale, and in July 1992, referred the matter to the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland (Med-Chi), the professional association for physicians in the state. The association, in turn, referred it to the Maryland Neurological Society Peer Review Committee.
The peer review committee found that Young had “breached the standard of care” by performing unnecessary neurosurgery. After a hearing before an administrative law judge, the Board of Physician Quality Assurance revoked Young’s license.
But the Court of Special Appeals said the peer review committee did not comply fully with procedures set forth by Med- Chi and approved by the board.
Given that, the court said, the board violated its agency regulations when it revoked Young’s license.
All members of the peer review committee did not review all records and no members completed the required worksheet on each record viewed, thus violating procedures the court viewed as mandatory.
“It is clear to us that the procedures adopted by [Med-Chi] for conducting peer reviews are mandatory, and the board’s failure to follow them has deprived Young of the process due him,” the court said.
Compton, the board’s executive director, said the board will decide whether to appeal further when it next meets.
Assistant Attorney General C. Frederick Ryland, whose office argued on behalf of the board, said he was disappointed to hear the decision.
“The board believes it provided a fair evaluation and hearing for Dr. Young,” Ryland said.
Ryland did not immediately know whether all administrative agency decisions made without strict adherence to guidelines now will be actionable.
“Our office is still reviewing the decision to determine its breadth,” Ryland said.
Young’s attorneys, John A. Austin and William C.C. Barnes, said they were pleased with the decision, but didn’t know if Young would return to Maryland to practice medicine. Neither Austin nor Barnes would say where Young lives now. -30-