HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Monday, May 2, 2005

Increase in Professional Discipline Actions

The AmNews reports that state medical boards reported disciplinary actions against physicians increased by 20% between 2003 and 2004.

Numbers the Federation of State Medical Boards released last month showed that state boards in 2004 took 5,502 prejudicial actions such as revocations, suspensions and reprimands against physicians. That's up from 4,590 actions in 2003. Substance abuse, unprofessional conduct and prescribing violations were the main reasons for discipline in 2004.

Non-prejudicial actions, which include license reinstatement after probation, climbed to 763 in 2004 from 640 in 2003. These board measures don't adversely impact physician licenses, but the federation said they consume time and resources, leaving small staffs less time to focus on in-depth investigations.

The 2004 numbers continue a rise in doctor discipline. Total board actions rose 36% over the past five years, with 6,265 actions in 2004.

The article also discusses the reasons behind the increased action.   It states the growing physician population is one reason and the other relates to improvements in the medical boards.  It also appears that some state medical boards have a broad range of responsibilities, some of which do not appear to relate that closely to whether they are good doctors.  For example, Missouri disciplines doctors for failing to pay state income tax.  [bm]

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