Virginia General Assembly Approves Bill Barring State Physician Database from Posting ‘Unsubstantiated’ Claims
The Virginia General Assembly this week "unanimously" approved an amendment that would prevent "unsubstantiated" charges filed against physicians from being posted on a new state Web site listing doctors' disciplinary records, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The database, which will include "licensing, education, malpractice and disciplinary information" on the state's 31,000 licensed doctors, is slated to go online July 24. The site was designed to enable consumers to perform background checks and read physicians' profiles. Initially, the database was to list all charges filed with the Virginia Board of Medicine against physicians, "including those [against] doctors found innocent after formal administrative hearings." The Times-Dispatch reports that some physicians were "unhappy" with that proposal, and state Sen. Warren Barry (R) proposed the legislation blocking the posting of such allegations. However, state health officials said that they are uncertain about the legislation's impact because notices of charges against doctors are already public record, if requested. Robert Nebiker, deputy director of the Virginia Department of the Health Professions, said, "The legislation is not very clear to us. We have routinely provided notices, orders and disposition documents to thousands of people." Nebiker said that the department has asked the attorney general's office to review the measure, which is awaiting Gov. Jim Gilmore's (R) signature. Health officials said they were unsure if the measure would affect the Web site's launch (Smith, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/11).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.