This year, according to the report released Thursday, Louisiana broke Alaska's four-year streak as the state with the highest score, while Minnesota for the third consecutive year was ranked lowest.
Naturally, folks in Minnesota bristle at the news.
"I always ask people where they would rather go for healthcare: Alaska or Minnesota?" Robert Leach, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, told Modern Healthcare last year.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Health Research Group, repeats his annual explanation that most states probably have an equal percentage of bad doctors and a sudden jump in actions is not the result of "a mass migration of bad doctors" into a state; it's usually because a board finally received the resources it needed to take action. Wolfe says low-ranking boards are the result of "state legislatures asleep at the wheel." For 2009, Alaska had 7.89 serious actions per 1,000 physicians, while Minnesota had 1.07. Wolfe said it is unlikely Alaska had seven times more bad doctors than Minnesota did.
"The question is not whether the practice of medicine in a state is better or worse," Wolfe explained last year. "It's whether the board is doing a good job of disciplining the same small fraction of doctors."
Nationwide in 2010, the FSMB reports that the number of physicians and other healthcare professionals who had their licenses taken away increased 4.5% to 1,815, compared with 1,736 in 2009. But total disciplinary actions fell 1.2% to 5,652 from 5,721.
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.