Virginia Physician Web Site Errors Under Investigation
About 10 physicians have "misrepresented or omitted crucial facts" about their credentials and disciplinary histories on Virginia's health provider Web site, and according to state investigators, the state Board of Medicine may take five months or longer to rule on the issue, the Washington Post reports. The state-sponsored Web site, http://www.vahealthproviders.com, includes profiles of 31,000 physicians in Virginia, but the doctors provide a majority of the information, which "is not independently verified" by the state. After the Post reported in September that five physicians omitted important information from their profiles, officials at the state medical board said that "all discrepancies noted in the article would be referred for investigation and possible disciplinary action." According to Robert Nebiker, deputy director of the Virginia Department of Health Professions, doctors who "knowingly submitted false information or omitted relevant data" could face sanctions, including the loss of their medical licenses. The state board has investigated 10 physicians, "including the five detailed" in the Post report, and may take disciplinary action against the doctors. Nebiker said that the process could take an additional two to three months, adding that the "months that elapse between the time the board is notified of a discrepancy and an action is taken reflects the due process rights accorded doctors." However, the Post reports that during the two to three month time period, patients "have no way of knowing by looking at the site that some information is inaccurate" (Boodman, Washington Post, 11/27).