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Medical boards' actions against docs up 6.8% in 2011


By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: May 17, 2012 - 1:00 pm ET
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Driven in part by the Florida Board of Medicine, state medical boards' disciplinary actions against physicians increased 6.8% in 2011, and 4.9% more doctors had their medical licenses or license privileges revoked or suspended, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards Summary of 2011 Board Actions (PDF).

The annual summary compiles the disciplinary actions taken by the FSMB's 70-member medical and osteopathic boards from the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. The boards recorded a total of 6,034 disciplinary actions in 2011, as compared with 5,652 in 2010.

"Because states operate with different financial resources, levels of autonomy, legal constraints and staffing levels, the FSMB discourages using data from this report to compare or rank states," wrote Dr. Humayun Chaudhry, FSMB president and CEO, in the report's introduction. "Changes in a board's funding, staffing levels, changes in state law and many other factors can impact the number of actions taken by a board."

Despite Chaudry's request not to use the report to rank different states, the Public Citizen consumer-advocacy group does just that, using a three-year average of FSMB data to calculate a "serious actions per 1,000 physicians" score.

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Louisiana's board had the most serious actions per 1,000 physicians for 2011, as calculated by Public Citizen, but its total actions dropped almost 37% to 82 from 130 last year. Its number of license or license-privilege revocations dropped 24% to 19 from 25, and its number of license restrictions dropped 49% to 37 from 73. Total actions in Alaska, whose medical board perennially has among the most serious actions per 1,000 physicians, stayed the same with 15 total actions in both 2011 and 2010 (compared with 32 in 2009).

The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, which has finished last on Public Citizen's list for three straight years, increased its total disciplinary actions by 12.7% to 62 from 55, although the number of medical licenses it revoked dropped to 10 from 13.

The national increase in total serious actions could be traced in part to the Florida Board of Medicine, whose total disciplinary actions increased 54.4% to 332 from 215. This figure included a 51.6% increase in revocation of medical licenses to 144 from 95. Florida also has a board of osteopathic medicine whose total actions dropped to 50 from 52, while its revocations of license or license privileges increased to 20 from 19 in 2010.

In recent years, Florida's boards often have been near the bottom of the Public Citizen list.


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