On Petition for Review of a Decision of the District of Columbia Board of Medicine
Schwelb and Farrell, Associate Judges, and Pryor, Senior Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schwelb
Dr. William Joseph asks us to review a final decision of the District of Columbia Board of Medicine in which he was reprimanded and ordered to pay a civil fine. The Board found that conduct for which Maryland had previously disciplined Dr. Joseph, namely, false testimony and misrepresentations made by him in his capacity as an expert witness in a medical malpractice case, constituted a false report in the practice of medicine, and thus provided grounds for disciplinary action in the District of Columbia. See D.C. Code § 2-3301.2(7) (1989). Dr. Joseph contends that in so finding, the Board misconstrued the statutory definition of practice of medicine. We affirm.
Dr. Joseph is a physician specializing in emergency medicine and shock trauma. He is licensed in Maryland and the District of Columbia. He practices primarily in Maryland.
For many years, Dr. Joseph has offered his services as an expert witness in medical malpractice litigation. Since approximately 1980, he has been associated with Forensic Medical Advisory Services (FMAS), a firm based in Bethesda, Maryland which provides the services of medical experts to civil litigants. In a typical year, Dr. Joseph evaluates approximately twelve requests from litigants or attorneys, but he testifies as an expert witness only once or twice.
In 1984, as a result of his association with FMAS, Dr. Joseph appeared as an expert witness for the plaintiff in a South Carolina medical malpractice case involving the death of a young girl during surgery. Under cross-examination at trial, Dr. Joseph testified falsely that he was board-certified in thoracic surgery. A curriculum vitae which he provided to counsel during discovery contained other false information about his academic credentials. Specifically, Dr. Joseph falsely claimed in this document that he had ranked first in his medical school class and that he had graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College. The curriculum vitae also depicted him as a member of certain professional societies in which his membership had in fact lapsed.
Dr. Joseph's misrepresentations were brought to the attention of the Maryland Commission on Medical Discipline, which charged him with "immoral conduct" and with making false reports or records in the practice of medicine. See Md. Health Occ. Code Ann. §§ 14-504 (3) & (4) (1981). Without specifically admitting the truth of the charges in the Maryland proceeding, Dr. Joseph did not contest them. *fn1 Rather, he agreed to the entry of an order reprimanding him for his conduct. In that order, which was issued on June 16, 1987, the Maryland Commission concluded, among other things, that Dr. Joseph had "willfully made a false report or record in the practice of medicine." The Commission stated that
it is the practice of medicine in Maryland when a medical expert in a malpractice case is retained to give his/her opinion based on the patient's records as to the standard of care required, the standard of care given, and the damage caused to the patient by the medical care rendered by another physician.
The American Medical Association informed the District Board of Medicine of the Maryland Commission's decision in a letter dated December 16, 1987. The Board then instituted these proceedings pursuant to D.C. Code § 2-3305.14(a)(3) (1989), which authorizes it to impose reciprocal discipline, based on a decision of a licensing authority of another jurisdiction, when the underlying conduct "would be grounds for disciplinary action" under District law.
A hearing was held before the Board on February 1, 1987. In its final order dated May 2, 1990, the Board held that Dr. Joseph was subject to discipline pursuant to D.C. Code § 2-3305.14(a)(8) (1989), because he had "willfully or a false report in the practice of a health occupation." (Emphasis added.) The health occupation, of course, was medicine.
The practice of medicine is defined in D.C. Code § 2-3301.2(7) (1989) as
the application of scientific principles to prevent, diagnose, and treat physical and mental diseases, disorders, and conditions and to safeguard the life and health of any woman and infant through pregnancy and parturition.
The Board found against Dr. Joseph on the only contested question in the case, namely, whether his false statements were ...