Healthcare News & Insights

Report: Most docs’ misdeeds go unpunished by state med boards

More than half of doctors who were sanctioned by their own hospitals weren’t penalized in any way by their state medical boards.

That’s the finding of a recent report by the advocacy group Public Citizen. Of more concern, the actions that led to the hospital sanctions weren’t picayune cases of forgetting some paperwork detail. Of the doctors in the group who weren’t sanctioned by their state med boards, 35% were disciplined by their hospitals for serious offenses such as:

  • being an “immediate threat to health or safety”
  • general incompetence, negligence or malpractice
  • providing substandard care
  • sexual misconduct
  • unsafe practices
  • narcotics violations, and
  • various types of fraud, including insurance fraud and  fraudulent  use of a medical license.

The report is based on 20 years’ worth of data from the National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File for 1990-2009, and includes records on nearly 11,000 doctors in the U.S.

Considering that most hospitals are reluctant to sanction their own doctors unless an incident or pattern of behavior is particularly egregious, it’s troubling that state medical boards are seemingly even less eager to carry through with sanctions when doctors have demonstrated significant professional misconduct.

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