State medical boards took 3,711 actions against physicians in 1993, compared with only 3,370 in 1992, according to a report released last week by the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States.
The 1993 total is the highest since the group began compiling records in 1984, and it demonstrates the effectiveness of the boards, according to medical board representatives. They argued that the boards are essential to ensuring quality in a reformed healthcare system.
Of the total actions, 3,081, or 83%, were considered serious enough to warrant punitive measures, including loss of license, limitations or restriction of license, and probation. In 1992, there were 2,971 serious actions.
Florida led the way with more than 350 total actions-against 11.9% of the state's total in-state licensed physicians. That state was followed by California, which took 274 actions, or 3.6% of total in-state licensed physicians.
Federation President Hormoz Rassekh, M.D., said the increased number of actions was the result of the "continuing enhancement of mon- itoring and investigatory activities."
The medical boards are concerned that they might be curtailed or eliminated under healthcare reform. That concern arises from a section in the Clinton administration plan that would move authority for physician discipline to the federal government from the state boards.
In recent testimony before the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, the federation's executive vice president, James Winn, M.D., said the Clinton plan would "unleash upheaval in the current state medical boards' regulatory procedures."
The federation called on Congress to eliminate the provision and to ensure that state medical boards receive adequate funding.