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Most Medical Boards 'Terrible' at Discipline

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 29, 2012

Whether it's because of budget issues or politics, many states aren't moving quickly on doctor discipline cases.  An analysis of the National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File for 1990-2009 found  that a total of 10,672 physicians have hospital sanctions, known as clinical privilege actions, against them for improper conduct. As many as 5,887 of these doctors—or 55%—have no pending state licensing actions, however, according to the Public Citizen report.

The hospital clinical privilege actions are peer review orders that Public Citizen says are one of the most important pieces of information used for medical board oversight. But, state board actions against a physician's license provide better assurance that a practitioner would be monitored or limited in work, the organization states.

A Public Citizen analysis says this "raises serious questions about whether state medical boards are responding adequately to hospital disciplinary reports and whether, as required by federal law, state medical boards are receiving such reports."

As a result, many of the doctors disciplined by their hospitals continue to practice unfettered, Wolfe says. "A large number have been thrown off the staff of hospitals and never disciplined," Wolfe adds.

"Part of the reason is that the executive branches of state governments are taking money dedicated to state doctors' licensing fees that are supposed to fund the medical boards and they are using it to try to balance the budgets for the rest of the state's [needs]. That's been going on in a number of states. It means the states are not taking a serious responsibility to discipline doctors who really need to be disciplined."

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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.