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CA medical board fails to discipline 710 troubled docs

The Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2011

California's medical board failed to discipline 710 troubled doctors even as they were disciplined by hospitals, surgical centers and other healthcare organizations in the state, according to a report released Tuesday. The report by Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Public Citizen was based on an analysis of doctors' records in the National Practitioner Data Bank from 1990 to 2009. The Department of Health & Human Services uses the data bank to track doctors' discipline, medical malpractice payments and other actions. The data released to Public Citizen did not name the doctors or their workplaces. Of the doctors who escaped state discipline in California, 35% had racked up more than one disciplinary action from another entity, according to the report. "If the hospital or HMO has taken action, why hasn't the board?" asked Sidney Wolfe, MD, director of Public Citizen's health research group. "That's something that as a physician or a patient I would be worried about. Hospitals rarely discipline doctors. When they do, it's usually for very serious infractions."