Recently, USA Today conducted an investigation in order to ascertain whether state medical boards are taking appropriate disciplinary measures for doctors guilty of “serious misconduct.” The findings are disturbing; for example, one finding shows that from 2001 to 2011, fifty-two percent of doctors who had their clinical privileges removed by a medical institution were not punished by a state medical board. Although hospitals and other healthcare related entities are required to report disciplinary actions involving doctors to the National Practitioner Databank, typically only a state medical board can affect a doctor’s actual license.
Despite the investigation’s findings, Lisa Robin, chief advocacy officer at the Federation of Medical Boards, maintains that state medical boards “‘take their responsibility very seriously in taking actions, being thoughtful, and … protecting the public.’” Taking disciplinary action can be an intricate pursuit for state medical boards, often involving complex legal issues such as due process and patient confidentiality. To further complicate matters, many state medical boards are operating under strict budgetary constraints.
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