Board Halts Sheldon Chiropractor’s Practice, Keeps Rationale Secret

Sheldon, Iowa (Iowa Capital Dispatch) — The state of Iowa has ordered a Sheldon chiropractor to halt his practice, but it’s keeping secret the rationale for the action and the terms under which it has agreed to reinstate the license.

According to the Iowa Capital Dispatch, on April 10, the Iowa Board of Chiropractic issued an order, pursuant to an agreement with chiropractor Todd Miedema of Sheldon. The order requires that Miedema halt his practice of chiropractic care and states that it has the same practical effect as an order suspending Miedema’s license.

The document also states that in order to meet the board’s interest in protecting the public, and to “avoid any emergency order the board” might issue in the case, the parties have agreed that Miedema will stop practicing until further order by the board.

In the document, the board lays out the specific conditions under which Miedema’s license can be reinstated — all of which have been redacted from public view. Three additional paragraphs, which would appear to spell out the basis for the board’s action, are also redacted from public view.

Miedema declined to comment on the case when contacted Friday by the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Access to information is curtailed

Over the past three years, public access to information from Iowa’s licensing boards has been greatly reduced. Prior to October 2021, all state licensing boards publicly disclosed the specific allegations against practitioners at the time charges were filed.

Those disclosures included not just the charges themselves — which are often vague, such “professional incompetence” or “unethical conduct” — but also the specific underlying conduct that gave rise to the charges, such as a botched surgery or the theft of patient medications.

The court’s decision was based on a statute that says “investigative information” gathered as part of a complaint against a licensee must be kept confidential at least until the board issues its final decision. The court concluded that the basic facts and circumstances surrounding a case are “investigative” in nature, and therefore confidential.

In the aftermath of that decision, most of Iowa’s licensing boards began issuing redacted statements of charges to keep secret the basic allegations that triggered the charges. Once the matter was finalized, that same information was made public.

The Miedema action is unusual in that it represents an order issued by the board — not simply a set of charges — and yet the alleged conduct that led to the order, as well as the board’s conditions for reinstatement, are being kept secret, presumably until additional action is taken in the case.

The handling of the case is somewhat similar to cases in which the board took action last fall. It was then that the state appeared to adopt a new policy of keeping secret the basic facts and circumstances in a case even after it had been finalized.

For example, the Iowa Board of Nursing repeatedly refused the Capital Dispatch’s 2023 requests for an unredacted copy of the written statement of charges against a nurse whose license has been revoked. The redacted portion of that document outlined the specific conduct that led to the charges against the nurse.

In a separate matter handled by the Board of Chiropractic last year — and this was about another practitioner — NOT Dr. Miedema — the board resolved a case with a settlement calling for that practitioner to surrender his license. But the basic facts and circumstances in that case remained sealed until an Open Records Law request was filed by the Capital Dispatch. That case involved allegations of improper contact with a 10-year-old child. That other chiropractor had previously been convicted on two counts of indecent contact with children and two counts of indecent exposure.

Even before the 2021 court ruling, Iowa’s licensing board tended to publicly disclose far less information on licensees’ alleged wrongdoing than is common practice in other states.

by Clark Kauffman, Iowa Capital Dispatch

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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