The Texas Medical Board has not disciplined 459 doctors who were sanctioned over a 21-year period by hospitals or healthcare institutions where they practiced, according to a report by the Public Citizen Health Research Group (PDF).
The board, however, said most of the incidents cited by Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, occurred before 2005, adding that since January of this year, it has taken steps to prevent the problems described in the report.
Using information from the National Practitioner Data Bank public-use file, Public Citizen found that Texas healthcare organizations imposed clinical-privilege sanctions against 793 physicians between September 1990 and the end of 2011, but 58% were not disciplined by the state medical board. Public Citizen further said the 459 physicians were responsible for 641 NPDB clinical action reports resulting in 144 punitive peer-review actions.
Legal actions against 216 of these doctors resulted in 473 malpractice payouts, and one physician in the group was responsible for 22 malpractice payouts, according to the report.
In a letter to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (PDF), Dr. Irvin Zeitler of the Texas Medical Board noted that between 2005 and 2009, 147 physicians have had a clinical privilege report, but only 60 of the cases had been reported to the board.
"Since TMB is a complaint-driven entity, it would not be able to take action unless a report had been sent by a hospital," Zeitler wrote, adding that Public Citizen "neglects to mention" that starting this year, any hospital report sent to the NPDB is now automatically sent to the board as well.