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A Look into What Happens After a Complaint is Filed

Once you file a report (commonly referred to as a complaint), we open a case for review by our panel of commissioners to determine if your complaint meets the threshold for investigation. Our commission panel considers all the information you provided and comes to a decision based on that information and if your complaint does not meet the threshold for an investigation, it is closed.

If your complaint is authorized for an investigation, we assign an investigator who may contact you to provide a statement or additional information. Once the investigation has concluded, our commission panel will discuss the case to determine whether the evidence indicates that the physician (MD) or physician assistant (PA) engaged in unprofessional conduct. A finding of unprofessional conduct may result in disciplinary action.


Once your complaint is submitted to the Medical Commission, we have 21 days to determine if your complaint warrants an investigation. The majority of investigations need to be completed within 170 days, and our legal unit has 140 days to complete the legal process. While we try very hard to stay within those timelines, cases may take more or less time depending upon the complexity and the need for outside expert reviews.     


If your complaint is closed without being investigated, you have 30 days (upon receipt of the closure notification) to file a request that the Medical Commission reconsider their decision.  Your reconsideration request must include new information that was not included with your original complaint.

Medical Commission Authority

Our authority is detailed in RCW 18.130.050. The general authority includes:

  • Granting or denying license applications;
  • Conducting rulemaking;
  • Adopting standards of professional conduct;
  • Investigating complaints of unprofessional conduct;
  • Issuing subpoenas;
  • Conducting reviews of a physician or physician assistant’s practice;
  • Placing conditions on licenses;
  • Suspending or revoking licenses;

For more information visit the frequently asked questions page or email us your questions.