- Associated Press - Sunday, May 11, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Some members of the medical community in South Dakota are raising conflict of interest questions regarding the work of a doctor who sits on multiple medical boards.

Dr. Mary Carpenter has sat on the state’s medical licensing board, which has duties that include the arbitration of complaints against physicians. She has done so while also serving on the board of an insurance company that protects doctors from allegations of wrongdoing, the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/1gaFAjq ) reported on Sunday.

Critics say neutrality is critical in probes against physicians, and Carpenter cannot be objective when “serving two masters.”

“That board has a policing job to do, and it’s hard enough to do being colleagues let alone having a financial interest involved,” said Steve Johnson, a Sioux Falls lawyer who has tried malpractice claims as both a defense and plaintiff’s attorney.

Carpenter declined to comment when reached by the newspaper.

Some have come out in her defense saying she’s a “proven leader.”

“She has those many roles because she doesn’t just show up. She does the work,” said Doneen Hollingsworth, the secretary of the Department of Health.

The spokesman for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Tony Venhuizen, said the governor was not aware of Carpenter’s relationship with the insurance company MMIC when he reappointed her to the Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners.

The newspaper reported that Carpenter was on the board of MMIC, a Minnesota-based medical malpractice insurance company, when she was reappointed by Daugaard. But since that appointment, Carpenter moved from the board of MMIC to the board of Constellation, an insurance holding company created by MMIC.

“The holding company is a shared-services organization to do group buying,” Venhuizen said. “The board she’s on now is not in the insurance company.”

But court filings in a federal case against the insurer show that the two companies are closely related. Marketing materials for Constellation state that through MMIC, the group offers “insurers access to a wide range of products and services, including: Proactive, enhanced litigation support.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

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