55% of Censured Docs Face No Licensing Action by State Medical Boards
Because the NPDB public use file identifies physicians through the use of code numbers rather than names, the identities of these physicians have not been made public.
Of the 5,887 whose staff privileges were curtailed, 220 were identified as causing an immediate threat to health or safety, 605 were disciplined for substandard care, and 1,119 because of incompetence, negligence, or malpractice. Other categories of substandard behavior included sexual misconduct, inability to practice safely, fraud including insurance fraud or fraud obtaining a license and fraud against healthcare programs and narcotics violations.
Of the 5,887 doctors who escaped licensure action, 3,6707 had either a permanent penalty from their hospital or a penalty of a year or more, but no state medical board action.
The report says that some states had far worse track records of not taking action against doctors whose peer reviews had resulted in a report to the NPDB.
In Illinois, for example, "a doctor had clinical privileges permanently revoked in 1999 and accumulated 10 medical malpractice reports between 1992 and 2006 totaling $7 million for, among other things, improperly managing cases, failing to diagnose and failing to identify fetal distress. One patient suffered a major permanent injury while another became a quadriplegic due to a brain injury. Yet Illinois did not discipline the doctor," the group said.
And "in Florida, a doctor had hospital privileges permanently revoked in 2002 for incompetence and racked up 10 medical malpractice reports totaling $1 million between 1992 and 2009 for, among other things, an unnecessary procedure, leaving a foreign body in a patient, and misdiagnosis. Two patients died. Yet the state of Florida took now disciplinary action against the doctor."
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