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

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 17, 2011

Humayun Chaudhry, DO, president and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards, says Public Citizen's report serves "as a reminder of the collaboration required by many parties to better protect the public."
 
That said, however, many state Medical Boards "will tell you that there is significant under-reporting of sanctions taken by hospitals, and this is not a surprise to us."
 
Additionally, he says, there may be some legitimate reasons why a gap exists between disciplinary actions listed by the NPDB and actions taken by a state medical board against those doctors.
 
"States do the best job they can to license and discipline doctors as appropriate, but not all hospital actions result in or require a licensure action," he says.  
 
Another reason may be that the medical board received the hospital's report and is in the process of investigating. "Each report has to be carefully considered by the board," Chaudhry says. "Hospitals are required to take and share action, but they may not share the investigation and work that led to it," which means that those state boards have to do that work themselves.
 
Or, it may be that the state board did take action, but that action may remain confidential, dependent on until the successful completion of a drug or alcohol diversion, or it may be a much lower level of discipline. "How do you know if you don't have the name of the physician?" he says.
 
A new project started last year means the NPDB and the Health Resources and Services Administration are working with state medical boards to cross check data they have on physicians, "and where there is something missing or doesn't make sense, they (the state boards) are going to act on it," Chaudhry said.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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.