The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners has done the best job of disciplining doctors, and the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice has done the worst, according to the Public Citizen Health Research Group's annual ranking of medical boards for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Public Citizen ranks states on doc discipline
Using a three-year average of data from the Federation of State Medical Boards, Public Citizen calculates a "serious actions per 1,000 physicians" score based on a state's physician population and the number of license revocations, surrenders, suspensions, restrictions and probations ordered by the state's medical board.
Louisiana's board, which was ranked 8th last year, had a 5.98 score and topped Alaska, which had finished first for the last four years. With a 5.47 score, Alaska finished second, ahead of Ohio, which had a 5.36 score and moved up from its fourth-place finish of last year to third.
Minnesota, with a 1.29 score, finished in 51st place for the third consecutive year. South Carolina, with 1.31 score, finished 50th for the third-consecutive year. And, with a 1.59 score, Wisconsin finished in 49th place for the third year in a row as well.
Overall, Public Citizen's average state score was 2.97—a 3% decline from last year's 3.05 and down 20% from the 2004 peak of 3.72.
"One reason for medical boards' declining rate of discipline is likely tighter state budgets," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Health Research Group, in a news release. "There is, unfortunately, considerable evidence that most boards are inadequately disciplining physicians."
Public Citizen noted in its report that among states with the largest populations Ohio finished the highest and was the only large state in the top 10, while Florida was the biggest state near the bottom, finishing in 45th place with a 1.94 score after ending up 44th for the last two years.
The report stated that its index cannot distinguish between a board that is lax in disciplining poor-performing doctors and one that does not have adequate resources to do its job properly. However, the report concluded, from the patient's perspective, "this distinction is irrelevant."
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