Medical Boards Step Up Disciplinary Actions

Cheryl Clark, May 18, 2012

The number of bad doctors who were punished by their state medical boards increased 6.8% between 2010 and 2011, with significant increases in high population states such as Florida, California, Ohio and Texas, according to the latest annual summary from the Federation of State Medical Boards.

The number of disciplinary actions of all types rose from 5,652 to 6,025. These actions include the most severe penalties, in which a physician loses the license to practice or loses certain privileges, to less severe or "non-prejudicial" actions or public reprimands.

But Sidney Wolfe, MD, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group,  which has long criticized what he sees as lax licensing supervision of the nation's medical professionals, is not impressed.

He sees the latest report as evidence that most state medical boards continue to fail to protect the public from bad doctors, especially in states that have the lowest physician penalty rates:  South Carolina, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Nevada, New Jersey, Florida, and the District of Columbia. Wolfe's group incorporated the new FSMB data into its own much more negative report Thursday.

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