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55% of Censured Docs Face No Licensing Action by State Medical Boards

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 17, 2011

In Florida, 63% of the 571 physicians with one or more adverse clinical privilege actions, or 361, had no action taken against them by the Florida licensing agency.

In Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Tennessee, more than 70% of physicians with one or more clinical privileges escaped any state license action. Of large states, in California, 54% of physicians had no licensure actions, Texas, 60%; Ohio 57%, New York 50% and in Illinois, 66%.

Of the 5,887 doctors whose hospitals reported their clinical privilege limitations to the NPDB, 350 had three such reports, 231 had more than three, and of those, 23 had seven or more, without any state action.

Public Citizen's report explains that federal officials apparently believe they don't have the authority to investigate state medical boards. However "during the 1980s and 1990s, the OIG acknowledged the importance of effective medical board oversight; during this time period they conducted 16 evaluations of state health professional licensing boards including nine specifically addressing inadequate medical boards performance.

"Because of highly questionable legal constraints imposed by OIG lawyers, the last OIG review of state medical boards was 18 years ago."

Wolfe's report said that the group's analysis "raises serious questions about whether state medical boards are responding adequately to hospital peer review determinations of substandard care or conduct, and, secondarily, whether state boards are getting copies of hospital reports to the NPDB. Given the value of hospital disciplinary reports, such reports must be received and properly utilized by medical boards to assure patient safety."

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4 comments on "55% of Censured Docs Face No Licensing Action by State Medical Boards"


Richard Willner (5/7/2011 at 9:30 AM)
One thing comes to mind. Was the evaluation of the surgeon or physician fair at the hospital peer review? Under the federal law called the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986, the ONLY right that the doctor ( MD, DO, DPM, DDS) has is "procedural due process". He does not have "due process rights". Yes, I know it is hard to believe but this is the fact. The details can be seen at The Center for Peer Review Justice, www.PeerReview.org . Physician Peer Review can be fine and proper, or it can be "gamed" as the Hospital and all concerned enjoy immunity under this Law and case law that follows. And, a doctor can be called "disruptive" and be on the fast tract towards losing his Licence. How is "disruptive physician" or a "disruptive surgeon" defined? After 11 years of seeing hundreds of cases, it is definded as anything that the CEO says it is. Really. But, there ARE solutions that have been developed.

Shammed Doc (3/19/2011 at 2:01 AM)
There is a major flaw in assuming that a hospital's decision to revoke a physician's privileges or to enforce a disciplinary action necessarily means that a physician is actually bad. This is not even the most likely scenario by any stretch of imagination. The current laws actually do not have a provision, whatsoever, that an accused physician be provided with a constitutional "due process", believe it or not. In other words, if some gang up, and they control the entire process against an undesirable physician (for whatever reason) there is no recourse for the physician since she/he may not be given the right to an "impartial" authority (equal to an impartial jury). So, I just wanted to alert the readers that the current process lumps together rogue doctors with excellent ones who got "shammed" by their peers. A peer review reform is needed to protect the patients from the rogue doctors who stay in power without being subjected to any reviews, and protect the good doctors who are now pushed under the bus by malicious-acting peers. Patients are victims of a process that does not effectively differentiate the definitely good from the definitely bad. Loopholes get exploited all the time. I try to increase awareness with this important issue via a blog www.shammeddoc.blogspot.com .

April (3/18/2011 at 10:55 AM)
Keep in mind that doctors can be reported to the NPDB for minor things such as not signing charts in a timely manner. While bad, it is not the same as leaving a foreign object in a patient. This story is taking something that needs to be looked at and blowing it out of proportion for publicity and ratings.