California Medical Board Negligent on Disciplining Doctors, Report States
The Medical Board of California neglected to discipline 710 physicians over 19 years, even though they were disciplined by hospitals and other health care organizations, according to a report released by not-for-profit Public Citizen, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The report was based on an analysis of physician information from the National Practitioner Data Bank from 1990 to 2009. HHS uses the database to track disciplinary, malpractice and other actions (Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, 8/10).
Key Details of Report
Public Citizen found that a total of 1,312 California physicians were disciplined between 1990 and 2009 by health care organizations but that fewer than half also received disciplinary action from the medical board (Kumar, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 8/9).
Of the physicians who did not receive state discipline, 35% received more than one disciplinary action from another entity. At least 102 of those who were not disciplined by the state had their privileges to practice suspended, limited or revoked after peer reviews.
In addition, the report noted that California ranks 35th in the U.S. for the rate at which it disciplines physicians, a decrease from its rank of 27th five years ago.
Meanwhile, the medical board said that itÂ took an average of more than 400 days to complete an investigation. State law calls for a maximum review period of 180 days, the Times reportsÂ (Los Angeles Times, 8/10).
In a letter, Public Citizen urged Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to speed the board's disciplinary processes, saying some physicians with a history of offering poor care could pose risks to the health and safety of patients (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 8/9).
The letter also called on Brown to fill vacancies at the board and to move board investigators to the office of the attorney general to collaborate with prosecutors (Los Angeles Times, 8/10).
Medical Board Response
Jennifer Simoes, a spokesperson for the medical board, said staffing shortages are contributing to delays in carrying out its dutiesÂ (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 8/9).
Simoes added that further analysis of the information is needed (Los Angeles Times, 8/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.