Since 2019, the Healthcare and Youth Inspectorate (IGJ) has had a hefty tool in its arsenal to protect the quality of our healthcare: the order for the immediate cessation of professional activities (LOOB), also known as a provisional professional ban. In 2022, the IGJ used this tool for the first time against an opiate-addicted doctor and a psychologist-psychotherapist. The doctor’s medical records were exposed to the public when the professional ban was imposed. Martin Buijsen, Professor of Health Law at Erasmus School of Law, is critical: “I can not quite grasp why the inspection chooses to publish the name of the healthcare provider involved.”
Buijsen is essentially positive regarding the professional ban: “The legislator’s expectation was that the LOOB would be used incidentally. This expectation was correct, using the Loob as a last resort. The legislator has filled a gap in the enforcement apparatus with this. Previously, the Inspection could not compel a healthcare provider to immediately cease their activities, which is possible since the introduction of the LOOB. I can imagine circumstances in which you would want that to happen.” It is noteworthy, however, that the legislator provided little explanation when introducing this new sanction, notes Buijsen: “The legislator has hardly provided any guidance.” The imposition of the LOOB on the doctor and the psychologist-psychotherapist are thus the first practical examples of this temporary ban.
Data in the public domain
The two imposed bans seem legitimate, but the fact that the opiate-addicted doctor’s data is now in the public domain due to the LOOB is a shame, according to Buijsen: “What I can not quite grasp is why the Inspection chooses to publish the name of the healthcare provider involved based on the Freedom of Information Act. It claims to weigh the public interest against the healthcare provider’s right to privacy. However, the healthcare provider already has to stop working, and the LOOB will be recorded in the BIG register [a register containing all authorised healthcare providers]. What is the added value of mentioning a name? Especially since the Inspection knows in advance that a disciplinary ruling will follow the publication of the LOOB, revealing much more information about the healthcare provider.”
After the provisional professional ban is imposed, a disciplinary ruling follows – as is the case with the doctor and psychologist-psychotherapist – in which the disciplinary board ultimately decides whether to impose a professional ban. In both cases, disciplinary boards confirmed the professional bans, and the Inspection is obliged to cease the LOOB, explains Buijsen: “This is also a decision that the inspection must publish.” In the case of the psychologist-psychotherapist, the IGJ published the name and a link to the anonymised disciplinary ruling for the second time. “That’s odd. A decision needs to be justified, but I can imagine that the Inspection can suffice with the statement that the disciplinary board has made its judgment.”