Only slightly more than a quarter of the disciplinary actions against physicians result in suspension, revocation or other removal of their licenses, according to a report issued last week by a consumer watchdog group.Public Citize n named some 13,012 physicians as "questionable" in its first compilation since 1993 of disciplinary actions against physicians by state medical boards or federal agencies. The Washington-based group added 3,415 doctors since its last list.Of the 25,069 disciplinary actions against doctors from 1986 through Jan. 31, 1995, 6,622 resulted in revocation, suspension or surrender of a license.In 1993, 32.5% of disciplinary actions resulted in license sanctions. The report said state medical boards are not sanctioning enough physicians for medical negligence or incompetence. Of the 10,211 instances for which Public Citizen knew the reason for a disciplinary action, only 1,677 of the cases involved substandard care, incompetence or negligence.Sidney Wolfe, M.D., director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, said state medical boards, HCFA, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration should take stronger action against doctors found to be violating federal law or professional standards."Most of the doctors in this book really merit action," Wolfe said. "I am concerned that such a small proportion had their licenses removed even temporarily."Wolfe said the group's compilation should bolster support for opening the controversial National Practitioner Data Bank to the public. Now open only to hospitals and managed-care organizations, the data bank reports on malpractice payments hospitals make on behalf of doctors, revocation of doctors' clinical privileges and other disciplinary actions.The report details disciplinary actions against 1,622 doctors penalized for substan dard care, incompetence or negligence; 1,913 convicted of criminal acts; 1,378 who misprescribed or overprescribed drugs; 1,059 who abused alcohol or drugs; and 264 who committed sexual abuse or misconduct with a patient.The Americ an Medical Association questioned Public Citizen's motives for releasing the report-which will cost the public $250 for the full 50-state volume and $15 for individual state-by-state listings-when the information already is publicl y available."We wonder why Sid Wolfe is charging the public for information they can get free from state licensing boards," said AMA spokeswoman Brenda Craine.
THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE;PHYSICIANS;WATCHDOG GROUP RELEASES LATEST ROSTER OF `QUESTIONABLE' DOCTORS
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