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Arizona medical board took doc licensing shortcuts

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Medical Board put patients at risk by failing to properly conduct background investigations on doctors applying for licenses after its executive director told staff to streamline the process in violation of the law, according to a new report.

The report from the independent Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens' Aide released Wednesday substantiated 19 of 20 allegations brought by current and former employees and recommended that all physician licenses issued since September 2011 be reviewed by the state auditor.

The board issued a statement to The Arizona Republic saying it already made changes to address the concerns.

``Any previous noncompliance of statutes and regulations under the direction of the Executive Director ... were addressed this year by the Board immediately. The Arizona Medical Board continues to work diligently to ensure the Agency's Executive Director and Administration is in compliance with rules and statutes,'' said Dr. Gordi Khera, the board's chairman.

Executive director Lisa Wynn was reprimanded but remains on the job. She declined comment, but in a response to the investigators said she intends to comply ``literally and explicitly'' with all laws and administrative rules regarding licensing procedures.

``I categorically reject, and will vigorously defend, any allegation that I knowingly broke any law in the exercise of my discretion as ED,'' she wrote in response.

The report said Wynn and the board's former deputy director ``acknowledged they and the AMB had no legal authority to enact the expedited practices, but proceeded nonetheless.''

The board under Wynn cut required background checks and instead used an online search and didn't require potential doctors to submit required documents for review. One person interviewed by the board said that cuts made it ``easier to get a medical license than a driver's license'' in Arizona.

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