AGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
Arizona Medical Board
Formerly the Board of Medical Examiners (until 2002)
State regulation of the practice of medicine traces back to 1887, as described in Arizona Territorial Law of 1887. In 1901, those laws were revised and republished. The 1901 Revised Statutes of the Arizona Territory outlined requirements to practice medicine and listed the powers and duties of a five-member Board of Medical Examiners. Current statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§32-1401 through 32-1491. Regulatory rules are found in the Arizona Administrative Code (A.A.C.) R4-16-101 through R4-16-707.
The Arizona Medical Board promotes the safe and professional practice of allopathic medicine and protects public health and safety by regulating and licensing doctors of medicine in this state, conducting investigations of complaints, providing information on licensees to the public, and administering the Physician Health Program.
The Board consists of 12 members, appointed by the Governor to five-year terms. Eight members must be actively practicing medicine and four members are appointed to represent the public. One of the four public members must be a licensed nurse with five years’ experience.
Territorial law required any person practicing medicine, surgery, or obstetrics to have a diploma issued by a medical college and to register with the county recorder in the county of practice. Registration required the person to provide his name, residence, place of birth; to present a diploma; and pay a five-dollar registration fee. Physicians were required to report births and deaths to the recorder within 30 days of the event. Practicing while intoxicated was prohibited and violations of the law were classified as misdemeanors. Surgeons who served in the U.S. Army in the war of the Great Rebellion (Civil War) were exempt.
See Revised Statutes of Arizona, 1887, Penal Code Title X, §571, §§617 through 621 and §640.
The twenty-first legislative assembly of the Territory of Arizona revised the laws of the Territory and authorized publication of Arizona Revised Statutes, 1901. The Statutes were organized into 75 titles, subdivided into chapters. Title 53, Chapter 1 outlined provisions relating to the practice of medicine, required a person to have a diploma from a medical college and required an examination in order to practice medicine. A five-member Board of Medical Examiners consisted of “three physicians of the so-called regular school of medicine, one from the so-called homeopathic school of medicine and one from the so-called eclectic school of medicine.” The law outlined organization, powers and duties of the Board. The law also established a process to obtain a certificate to practice, set an examination fee of five dollars, grandfathered current practicing physicians, and exempted the practice of midwifery. Violations of the law were classified as a misdemeanor, with a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $1,000. A minimum term of imprisonment was set at three months with a maximum term of one year. Fines and prison terms were determined by the court. See Revised Statutes of the Arizona Territory, 1901, Title 53.
The Preface to the 1913 Revised Statutes of Arizona explained that a Code Commissioner had been appointed in 1912, with the duty to compile, revise and codify the laws of the state. The revision “covered all subjects of legislation contained in the Revised Statutes of 1901 with some exceptions and some additional subjects” (See Preface, pages 4 and 5). Laws relating to the practice of medicine were placed in Title 48, Regulation of Professional Pursuits, divided into six chapters relating to practice of medicine, dentistry, optometry, embalming, pharmacy and sale of poisons. Title 48, Chapter 1 outlined laws regarding the practice of medicine and the Board of Medical Examiners. The number of members of the Board remained at five, (the same as in 1901) and required two members from the allopathic school of medicine [of the State of Arizona], one member from the homeopathic school of medicine [of the State of Arizona], and one member from the osteopathic school of medicine [of the State of Arizona]. The law described Board powers and duties; requirements for certification; and established fees, record retention policies, penalties and exceptions. See Revised Statutes of Arizona, 1913 Civil Code. Also Laws 1913, Second Special Session, Chapter 17.
Laws 1917, Chapter 66 authorized the Board to enter into a contract of reciprocity with other states whose standards were no less than Arizona standards, and to issue a reciprocity certificate to an applicant who met specific requirements.
Laws 1921 Chapter 119 modified the reciprocity requirements adopted in 1917. The measure also authorized the Board, in response to an emergency in a community, to issue temporary certificates to practice medicine and surgery.
Laws 1936, First Special Session, Chapter 9 established the Board of Examiners in Basic Sciences (BEBS). The BEBS consisted of five University of Arizona professors appointed to terms of six years by the Board of Regents. The BEBS was authorized to prescribe rules regarding the examination and registration of practitioners of the healing arts. The measure outlined organization of the BEBS, fees, appeals, violations, investigations and limitations. The measure specifically exempted optometrists, dentists, midwives and nurses from examination requirements of the BEBS. See Arizona Code Annotated, 1939, Chapter 67, Article 2 (Sections 67-201 through 220).
Laws 1949, Chapter 42 required the Governor to select Board members from a list of names submitted by the Arizona State Medical Association and changed the term from six years to three. The act also established the Board as a 90/10 board, which designates 90% of all monies collected to be deposited by the State Treasurer in the Board of Medical Examiners fund for the purposes of carrying out its responsibilities, and 10% of fees to be deposited in the state’s general fund.
Laws 1952, Chapter 16 established a process to allow a person to appeal a Board decision and to request judicial review. The measure outlined procedures related to petitions, hearings, submitting evidence, decisions, and the right to appeal a Superior Court decision to the Arizona Supreme Court.
The laws which applied to the medical profession and the Board were renumbered, codified and annotated in 1956 when the Legislature enacted the Arizona Revised Statutes. Based on the work product of the Code Commission, created in 1951, all laws and statutes of a general public and permanent nature in force at the time were repealed and replaced by the new A.R.S. See Laws 1951, Chapter 103; Laws 1956, Chapter 129; and Laws 1956, First, Second and Third Special Sessions.
Laws 1964, Chapter 27 repealed and replaced A.R.S. Title 32, Chapter 13 relating to: powers and duties of the Board; licensing and regulation of the practice of medicine and surgery; and suspension, revocation, judicial review, appeals and penalties. The measure also combined or renumbered several sections.
Laws 1971, Chapter 65 prescribed licensing qualifications for graduates of foreign schools of medicine and provided a definition for an approved medical specialty. A second measure enacted in 1971 defined “medically incompetent,” allowed the Board to investigate evidence of medical incompetence and provided immunity from civil action for providing information in a hearing regarding unprofessional conduct. See Laws 1971, Chapter 107.
Laws 1981, Chapter 45 expanded the definition of unprofessional conduct to include false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading advertising; modified continuing education requirements; and outlined provisions regarding appointment and responsibilities of a hearing officer.
Laws 1982, Chapter 270 “recognizes the lessons of the 1982 sunset review of the Board… and reorganizes and restructures the medical practices act to more effectively protect the public health, safety and welfare.” See Legislative Intent clause, Sec. 1. The measure repealed and rewrote the definition section, revised qualifications to serve on the Board, modified duties of the Board, and repealed and rewrote licensing requirements. The measure also required the Board to submit a report containing recommendations regarding mandatory penalties for multiple violations by a licensee. The Auditor General was required to review the Board’s handling of complaints and malpractice claims and evaluate whether improvements had been made. Finally, the measure established the Joint Legislative Committee on the Natural Healing Arts to review the extent of regulation, licensing, scope of practice, and an investigation of the possible need for statewide registration, rather than licensure, of natural healing art practitioners. The reports were due by January 1, 1983.
Laws 1986, Chapter 63 was an extensive measure that modified Board responsibilities related to meetings and reporting requirements, licensing requirements, penalties and disciplinary action.
Laws 1988, Chapter 190 modified Board compensation; outlined the appointment, compensation, and duties of the executive director; and eliminated refundable fees.
Laws 1992, Chapter 316 modified Board procedures regarding substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation programs and established the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Board Consolidation of Investigations. A report of findings was due to be submitted to the Governor and Legislature by October 15, 1992.
Laws 1993, Chapter 241 required notice of medical malpractice actions be provided to the Board; modified Board qualifications and meeting requirements; modified licensure requirements; established training permits; modified fees; modified requirements related to substance abuse and treatment programs; established the Physician Monitoring Fund within the State Treasury, to be administered by the Board; and authorized medical assistants to perform specific medical procedures.
Laws 1995, Chapter 212 modified licensing requirements and grounds for disciplinary action.
Laws 1999, Chapter 218 was an omnibus measure which made numerous changes to Board responsibilities including investigative and disciplinary procedures, licensing and regulatory functions, and access to medical records. The measure established a biennial license renewal schedule and increased the fee for an active license from $350 to $700. In addition, the Board was required to make available to the public a profile of each licensee, including a description of any criminal convictions, the number of pending complaints, disciplinary action taken by the Board, all medical malpractice judgments and arbitration awards, the name and location of the licensee’s medical school and date of graduation, and the licensee’s primary practice location. The Board was required to establish an internet website to post the information. The measure included an appropriation of $300,000 to cover the costs of three FTEs and to establish the website. As part of the sunset review process, the measure continued the Board for three years and required the Auditor General to issue a report, by October 1, 1999, on the Board’s progress toward implementing the 1998 performance audit recommendations. The Auditor General was also required to conduct an interim performance audit of the Board and submit a report to the Governor and Legislature by November 15, 2001.
Laws 2000, Chapter 204 made numerous changes to Board statutes relating to: the composition of the Board and appointment of its members; malpractice settlements; retention of medical records; licensing requirements; fees; and rehabilitation and retraining programs.
Laws 2002, Chapter 254 renamed the Board of Medical Examiners as the Arizona Medical Board and made conforming changes to reflect the new name throughout statutes. The measure also deleted the requirement for the Board to publish an annual directory of licensees and made other changes related to Board duties and probation.
Laws 2004, Chapter 264 was an omnibus measure that made numerous changes to Board authority and duties, revised licensing requirements and procedures, and modified authority of the Board’s Executive Director. The measure also allowed the Board to establish a confidential program to evaluate, treat and monitor physicians and physician assistants who have medical, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health disorders that impact the licensee’s ability to safely practice medicine or perform healthcare tasks.
Laws 2006, Chapter 49 prohibited the Board from posting information regarding pending complaints on its website. A second measure enacted the same year, Laws 2006, Chapter 78, authorized the Board to require a prescribed number of hours of continuing medical education as part of a non-disciplinary order.
Laws 2011, Chapter 227 modified the information contained in a licensee’s public profile that is posted on the Board website and modified certain requirements for substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation programs.
Laws 2012, Chapter 141 required Board investigators to complete a nationally recognized investigator training program within one year of hire date; prohibited Board investigation of a complaint that was filed more than seven years after the alleged violation occurred; and established the burden of proof of ‘clear and convincing’ for disciplinary matters.
Laws 2014, Chapter 123 established the Committee on Executive Director Selection and Retention with the responsibility to appoint the executive director of the Arizona Medical Board. The Committee consisted of the Arizona Medical Board members as well as the chair and vice-chair of the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants (ARBPA). The two boards share an executive director and staff pursuant A.R.S. §32-1405 subsection C, paragraph 17, which authorizes the Executive Director of the Arizona Medical Board to manage and supervise the operation of the ARBP.
Laws 2014, Chapter 124 required applicants for an initial license or a renewal to submit fingerprints for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check. The measure also addressed disciplinary and non-disciplinary actions and complaints, primary source information requirements for applications, Board appointments and terms, and required an annual report containing information on staff turnover and training for Board investigators. According to the sponsor, the measure addressed issues recommended by the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens’ Aide, in a report issued in October 2013 regarding an investigation of Board procedures. See Arizona Ombudsman Citizens’ Aide Case No. 1201725.
Laws 2016, Chapter 137 established the Medical Licensure Compact to allow member states to provide a streamlined process for allopathic and osteopathic physicians to become licensed in multiple states, enhance the portability of a medical license and ensure patient safety. The compact creates another pathway to licensure and does not change a state’s existing medical practice act. (A.R.S. §32-3241, Section 1, Purpose). The measure established eligibility requirements for licensure; application procedures; fees; a coordinated information system; investigation and disciplinary procedures; and outlined membership, duties and functions of the Interstate Commission. The Board was required to provide a report to the Legislature by December 31, 2017, that included recommended statutory changes to implement expedited licensure.
Three measures were adopted in 2019 that addressed Board responsibilities. Laws 2019, Chapter 182 authorized the Board to determine if an Arizona licensed physician meets the requirements related to treating and managing opiate-dependent patients and is eligible to obtain an annual registration from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and serve as a U.S. DEA qualifying physician.
A second enactment, Laws 2019, Chapter 195, allowed the Board to authorize its executive director to issue licenses, certifications, registrations, preceptorships, reinstatements, and waivers to eligible applicants who meet the requirements identified in the statute. The measure also addressed temporary licenses. Section 32-3124.I states: “This section applies to a health profession regulatory board to the extent that this section does not conflict with the board’s current statutory authority relating to temporary licensure.” The Board may adopt rules to carry out the new provisions.
A third enactment in 2019 requires the Board to regulate the unauthorized practice of the profession by investigating complaints and referring verified complaints to the county attorney or attorney general for prosecution. See Laws 2019, Chapter 227.
Two measures were enacted in 2021 that addressed Board responsibilities. The first established specific, listed requirements for certification of medical assistants. The measure prescribes the same training requirements for medical assistants certified by the Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board and the Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery. See Laws 2021, Chapter 259.
The second measure, Laws 2021, Chapter 354 authorizes the Board to grant a medical graduate transitional training permit to a medical school graduate who is not otherwise eligible to apply for a license to practice or a training permit. The measure outlines eligibility, prescribes terms and conditions of the permit, and establishes requirements for supervising physicians. The Department of Health Services, working in conjunction with the Arizona Medical Board and the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine, is required to submit reports on the transitional training permit program to the Legislature by January 1, 2024 and January 1, 2025.
- Revised Statutes of Arizona, 1887, Penal Code Title X, §571; §§617 through 621; and §640
- Arizona Revised Statutes, 1901, Title 53, Chapter 1
- Revised Statutes of Arizona, 1913 Civil Code, Title 48
- Arizona Code Annotated, 1939, Chapter 67, Article 2 (§§67-201 through 67-220)
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§32-1401 et seq.
- Arizona Administrative Code §§R4-16-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1913, Second Special Session, Chapter 17
- Laws 1917, Chapter 66
- Laws 1921, Chapter 119
- Laws 1936, First Special Session, Chapter 9
- Laws 1949, Chapter 42
- Laws 1951, Chapter 103
- Laws 1952, Chapter 16
- Laws1956, Chapter 129 and First, Second and Third Special Sessions
- Laws 1964, Chapter 27
- Laws 1971, Chapter 65 and Chapter 107
- Laws 1981, Chapter 45
- Laws 1982, Chapter 270
- Laws 1986, Chapter 63
- Laws 1988, Chapter 190
- Laws 1992, Chapter 316
- Laws 1993, Chapter 241
- Laws 1995, Chapter 212
- Laws 1999, Chapter 218
- Laws 2000, Chapter 204
- Laws 2002, Chapter 254
- Laws 2004, Chapter 264
- Laws 2006, Chapter 49 and Chapter 78
- Laws 2011, Chapter 227
- Laws 2012, Chapter 141
- Laws 2014, Chapter 123 and Chapter 124
- Laws 2016, Chapter 137
- Laws 2019, Chapter 182, Chapter 195 and Chapter 227
- Laws 2021, Chapter 259 and Chapter 354
Arizona Auditor General Performance Audits
Performance Audit and Sunset Review – 2017
Procedural Review – 2015
Performance Audit and Sunset Review – 2011
Performance Audit – 2004
Performance Audit and Follow-Up Report – 2001
Performance Audit – 1998
Follow-up Review of the Auditor General’s 1994 Audit of Board of Medical Examiners – 1996
Performance Audit – 1994. Report 94-10
Performance Audit/Sunset Review – 1991
Performance Audit of Board of Medical Examiners Complaint Review Process – 1982. Report 82-7
Performance audit of the Board of Medical Examiners – 1981. Report 81-11
Note: Reports from 1994, 1993, 1991, 1982 and 1981 are available on the Auditor General’s website
Related Collections at Arizona State Archives
- Record Group 006 – Secretary of the Territory, 1863-1922
- Record Group 062 – Board of Medical Examiners, 1903 – 1990
- Manuscript Group 011 – Dr. Nelson Dewey Brayton, physician and Gila County Legislator
- Manuscript Group 119 – Arizona Territorial Documents