Post-Dispatch, July 14, 2011

A new state law will allow patients to learn more about their doctors' backgrounds and give the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts increased power to discipline incompetent physicians. Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday signed House Bill 265, giving the healing arts board more leverage to respond more quickly to doctors deemed a threat to public health. The bill was inspired by the 2010 Post-Dispatch series "Who Protects the Patients," an investigation into the state's lax and secretive system of doctor discipline. The new law takes effect Aug. 28. The healing arts board will then have greater authority to suspend the licenses of incompetent and impaired doctors by making it easier to prove that patients are at risk. Missouri law already allows the board to immediately suspend dangerous doctors, but the Post-Dispatch investigation found it had not done so in at least 25 years.

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