Medical Board Considers Expanding Amount of Physician Discipline Information Made Public
Medical malpractice settlements and misdemeanor crimes committed by physicians are among the information that the state Medical Board is considering disclosing to consumers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Currently, the board protects information about misdemeanor convictions, complaints against physicians, ongoing investigations and malpractice settlements. But the board is looking into ways to "dramatically" expand the amount of information it makes public, Dr. Ronald Wender, head of the board's Public Information Disclosure committee, said (Wallack, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/1). The move comes after the Chronicle reviewed 66 "widely reported" verdicts and arbitration awards against doctors in the past three years, finding that 33% of the cases "were missing" from the Medical Board's online public database. In some cases, the board was not aware of court decisions because court clerks and insurers failed to inform the agency. State law requires court clerks to notify the medical board within 10 days about judgments or settlements against physicians that exceed $30,000. Insurers also "are supposed to notify" the agency, but "there is no penalty for failing to do so" (California Healthline, 1/7). The California Medical Association and the Center for Public Interest Law, at the request of the board, met recently to "forge a compromise" on what information should be released. During the meeting, the two groups "agreed in principle" that misdemeanors related to patient care should be released; the board is expected to ratify that recommendation. Wender said, "We are committed to providing more information, not less. Our mission is consumer protection" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/1).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.