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Most Medical Boards 'Terrible' at Discipline

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 29, 2012

Senators call for investigation
In fact, several U.S. Senators last month asked the inspector general of Health and Human Services to investigate the quality of state medical boards in the wake of critical media reports.

Some hospitals are handing medical boards information about bad docs, yet the state boards aren't acting on the knowledge. These do-nothing bodies are betraying patients as well as the hospitals that ferret out wrongdoing on wayward physicians, only to have their findings ignored.

That's the feeling you get after talking to Sidney M. Wolfe, MD, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, a consumer health advocacy and lobbying group based in Washington D.C.

"A small number of medical boards are doing a good job. Most are doing a terrible job," Wolfe tells HealthLeaders Media. "Medical boards have been asleep at the wheel too often. Most states are doing a terrible job protecting patients (against) a small number of doctors who are doing damage. One doctor may see 500 or 1,000 patients, but if that doctor shouldn't be practicing, a lot of patients may be injured or killed by that doctor."

Hospitals are filing internal actions banning doctors from their facilities, yet state medical boards, which have the ultimate authority in their jurisdictions, don't act, and these physicians are then free to practice across town.

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2 comments on "Most Medical Boards 'Terrible' at Discipline"


Joe Tye (3/30/2012 at 9:21 AM)
Another example of the failure of the medical profession to police itself is Lasik eye surgery, which is virtually unregulated. Thousands of people have their eyes permanently damaged each year, and Lasik surgeons consistently fail to report bad outcomes to the FDA. A Canadian news TV producer doing a show on dishonest sales techniques utilized by Lasik doctors told me he's never seen anything like the way Lasik surgeons have "circled the wagons" to protect incompetent surgeons and unethical Lasik mills from scrutiny.

shadowmia (3/29/2012 at 10:14 PM)
The Nevada Board, where the bulk of Murray's practice is, still has not revoked his license or taken any other action against him. The remainder of his practice is in Texas, and the Texas Board likewise has done nothing. The only Board that has revoked his license to practice is California, and Murray's sole patient there was Michael Jackson, whom he killed. All of the above is a grim indictment of the State Medical Boards.