Medical Board Must Do More to Protect, Inform Public, San Jose Mercury News Says
Although the Medical Board of California voted last weekend to disclose malpractice settlements on the board's Web site, the board must do more to protect and inform the public, according to a San Jose Mercury News editorial. The editorial states that the board's "shortcomings go on and on" (San Jose Mercury News, 5/16). For example, an Orange Country Register report in April found that the board investigates only about 20% of the 10,600 complaints received from patients each year and does not disclose most complaints to the public. In addition, the report found that although the board may fine and suspend negligent physicians, doctors rarely lose their licenses (California Healthline, 4/25). According to the editorial, a "poorer excuse for a consumer protection agency can scarcely be imagined." The editorial also says arguments from physicians and medical malpractice insurers that disclosure of malpractice settlements would "scare patients away from good doctors and drive up insurance rates" are "lame excuses." The editorial concludes, "Perhaps [doctors and insurers] should consider that patients would have more trust in doctors and file fewer lawsuits if the incompetent and criminally negligent doctors were driven out of the profession" (San Jose Mercury News, 5/16).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.