Reciprocity among states
A reciprocity agreement now enables states to promptly discipline a doctor within 24 hours after the doctor has been disciplined in another state. "There's been an improved ability to communicate (between states) and take reciprocal action," Robin says.
Several government agency reports in recent years have criticized a system by which hospitals reported doctors they disciplined to the National Practitioner Data Bank, as they're required to do, but did not, in turn, report those same doctors to their respective state medical boards. Robin says that process has been streamlined "with technical enhancements" between the bank and various state physician licensing agencies.
Several states have stepped up their outreach directly to patients. For example, California, where the number of disciplined physicians increased between 2010 and 2011 by 19%, from 545 to 648, enforced a new signage rule in 2010 that requires every physician who sees patients to post a visible sign telling patients where they can complain if they didn't like their care.