Consumer Advocacy Group Public Citizen Reports on State Discipline of Doctors

The nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen released its report on state medical boards and their failure to discipline doctors. The results may shock you. The results showed that 32 states let more than half the doctors off without any reprimand after hospitals revoked or restricted their privileges.

The study examined the National Practitioner Data Bank from 1990 to 2009, specifically the number of doctors whose hospitals barred or restricted their practice privileges. There were 10,672 doctors sanctioned by hospitals, but their respective state medical boards did not discipline 55 percent of them. State licensing boards are required to report all actions that revoke, suspend or restrict a license for reasons related to the doctor’s competence or conduct.

The study’s director said it is an indictment of hospitals that only about 10,000 doctors have received disciplinary action in the past 20 years. She said that state medical boards are either receiving information from hospitals and ignoring it, or not receiving the information at all. The hospital performs the disciplinary investigations and hands it to the state medical board.

Patient advocacy groups worry about doctors that are repeat offenders. One doctor had his privileges permanently revoked in 2002 and racked up 10 medical malpractice suits between 1992 and 2009 totaling $1 million. Doctors’ negligent acts included failing to diagnose, improperly managing cases, substandard care, sexual misconduct, insurance fraud and narcotics violations, among others.

When doctors make mistakes, the consequences are often irreversible. Contact a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorney at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis. William Lightfoot is an experienced Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawyer and is prepared to offer a free consultation.