The number of physicians disciplined by state medical boards increased slightly last year, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards. Medical boards took 3,767 disciplinary actions against physicians in 1998, up from 3,728 in 1997.
According to the federation, 1,624 physicians lost their licenses in 1998, and 1,212 doctors' licenses were restricted.
The federation comprises 69 state medical licensing and disciplinary boards. A medical board usually is composed of physicians and consumers and gains its authority from a state statute, often known as a Medical Practice Act. The board is responsible for licensing physicians, regulating the practice of medicine and disciplining doctors who violate the Medical Practice Act.
The boards took a total of 4,520 actions last year. Of those, 3,767 were prejudicial in nature, meaning the physicians were disciplined for some violation; and 753 were nonprejudicial, meaning the actions may have to do with the termination of a probation or reinstitution of a license. Prejudicial actions include license revocations, suspensions, probations and other types of restrictions to a physician's license.
Many prejudicial actions resulted from problems with quality of care, substance abuse and unprofessional conduct, according to the federation.