The nations state medical boards took slightly more disciplinary actions against doctors in 2008 than they did in 20075,379 last year compared with 5,319but the number of license revocations, suspensions, and other actions such as forcing mandatory retirement, are still down from previous years totals, when 5,574 actions were taken in 2006 and 6,213 in 2005, according to the annual report compiled by the Federation of State Medical Boards. The federation compiles data from the nations 70 medical boards with some states having separate boards for osteopaths and other healthcare professionals; the report also includes figures from boards for the District of Columbia and U.S. territories such as Guam. The FSMB discourages using its data for ranking the states, noting that different boards operate with different financial resources, levels of autonomy, legal constraints and staffing levels. Ignoring the FSMBs annual plea, the Public Citizen Health Research Group released its annual analysis of the FSMBs data. According to Public Citizen, Minnesota was the least-effective state when it came to disciplining physicians, and, for the third-straight year, Alaska was the most effective. Public Citizen creates the rankings by taking a three-year average of the data on medical license revocations, surrenders, suspensions, probations and suspensions compiled by the FSMB and divides it by the states physician populations to come up with a serious actions per 1,000 physicians rating. The District of Columbia is also included in the rankings. Minnesotas rating was 0.95 serious actions taken per 1,000 physicians, while Alaska had a rating of 6.54 serious actions per 1,000 physicians. What appeared to disturb Public Citizen the most, however, was the appearance of California and Florida near the bottom with ratings of 2.37 and 2.35 and rankings of 43rd and 44th, respectively. The report noted also how California dropped to that level after being ranked 22nd in 2003. Nationally, there were 2,817 serious actions taken by the medical boards in 2008 against the nations 963,084 physicians, which Public Citizen calculates to be a 3.28 rating when the previous two years are taken into account for a three-year average. Finishing just above Minnesota were South Carolina, with 1.23 serious actions per 1,000 physicians; then Wisconsin, 1.64; and Mississippi, 1.87. After Alaska, came Kentucky, with a 5.87 rating, followed by Ohio, 5.33, and Arizona, 5.12. The overall national downward trend of serious disciplinary actions against physicians is troubling because it indicates many states are not living up to their obligations to protect patients from bad doctors, said Sidney Wolfe, Public Citizen's acting president and director of its Health Research Group, in a news release. State lawmakers must give serious attention to finding out why their states are failing to discipline doctors and then they need to take actioneither legislatively or by applying pressure on medical boards. Otherwise, they will continue to allow doctors to endanger the lives and health of their residents because of inadequate discipline.Submit a letter to the Modern Physician Reader Blog. Please include your name, title, company and hometown. Modern Physician reserves the right to edit all submissions.
State disciplinary actions against doctors up slightly
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.
Recommended for You