Thursday, March 17, 2011

Report Highlights Inconsistency Between Hospital and State Licensing Actions Against Physicians

A March 2011 report by Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, found that out of the 5,887 physicians in the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) "with one or more clinical privilege actions -- revocation or restriction of their clinical privileges," more than half had no state licensing actions taken against them. The report questions whether or not state medical boards are receiving reports of hospital actions and whether or not the medical boards are properly responding to reports of discipline through appropriate action at the state level.

Public Citizen examined clinical privilege reports, medical malpractice payment reports, as well as the NPDB Public Use File, which does not disclose the identity of the practitioners queried. It found that many physicians who had clinical privilege disciplinary actions related to incidents such as incompetence, sexual misconduct, fraud, malpractice, and being deemed "an immediate threat to health and safety" had reports in the NPDB, bit had no state licensure action taken against them.

The report issued several recommendations. First, it encouraged states to strengthen medical board oversight to improve performance in taking action against disciplined physicians. It also called on the boards to work with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to ensure that action is taken against the physicians in the NPDB who curerntly have clinical privilege reports but no state licensure action. Finally, the report called on the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General to resume investigations of state medical board effectiveness. This oversight review was last performed 18 years ago.

In response to the report, Humayun Chaudhry, D.O., president and CEO Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) stated:
“While not every hospital action requires a medical license disciplinary action, many states have indicated that there is significant under-reporting to them of hospital sanctions. Recognizing this, several state medical boards and the Federation of State Medical Boards have been collaborating with HRSA since 2010 to explore ways of cross-referencing information contained in the National Practitioner Data Bank with the information the boards have in order to create a more effective reporting system. State medical and osteopathic boards do the best they can with the resources they have, but they cannot take an action against a physician if they are unaware of the problem. The report by Public Citizen is a reminder of the value of collaboration among many different groups (e.g., physicians, hospitals, state boards, federal agencies and the public) and the need for them to seek ways to work together in protecting the public and promoting quality health care.”

To read the Public Citizen report, click here:

Sources: Public Citizen, FSMB

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