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.