PHYSICIANS: California Follows Other States In Releasing Disciplinary Data
California is the latest state to air physicians' "dirty laundry ... over the Internet," American Medical News reports. Under a new state law that went into effect January 1, "the California medical board greatly expanded the data it discloses to the public on physicians' track records." The board's Web site now includes information on "liability judgments and arbitration awards as well as hospital disciplinary actions that led to suspension or revocation of medical staff privileges." California is following several states that pioneered the release of physicians data on the Web, including Massachusetts and Florida. American Medical News reports that "physicians nationwide are bowing to heightened disclosure demands." Doctors have expressed concern, however, that such information "has little relation to quality of care and can easily be misconstrued." In addition, there is concern that Internet postings "complicate the issue, since they allow dissemination well beyond a doctor's patients for reasons unrelated to patient care." Some doctors are also concerned that health plans could use the information to drop them from provider panels. Dr. Theodore Masek, a radiation oncologist in Rancho Mirage, said, "If a patient wants information on their doctor, it should be available. But posting it on the Web so it can be used by anybody for any reason seems fraught with problems. It can taint a person's reputation electronically." The California Medical Association only agreed to support the state legislation mandating the release of physician information after "liability settlements and less severe hospital sanctions ... were dropped from the disclosure measure" (Prager, 3/2 issue).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.