A new report from Public Citizen finds that almost half of all hospital sanctions against problem docs do not result in action from state licensing boards.
According to Dr. Sidney Wolfe, head of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group “Either state medical boards are receiving this disturbing information from hospitals but not acting upon it, or much less likely, they are not receiving the information at all. Something is broken and needs to be fixed.”
The report found that about 300 Mass doctors were cited in the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) for “clinical privileges revoked or restricted by hospitals” Of those cases, 115 — or 38 percent, were not sanctioned by the state Board of Registration in Medicine.
According to the report, one Mass, one doc was cited by a hospital nine times, but never cited by the licensing board. The cases involved three medical malpractice cases resulting in $1.7 million in payments, two for failure to diagnose and one for delay in performance . One of the patients incurred” a major permanent injury.” Both were “obstetrics related.”
An analysis of the National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File for 1990-2009 found that of a total of 10,672 physicians in the data bank with one or more clinical privilege actions — revocation or restriction of their clinical privileges — 45% also had one or more state licensing actions. However 5,887, or 55%, of these physicians — more than half — had no state licensing actions. This report is an analysis of violations by and the privileging actions taken against these physicians who, despite clinical privilege actions, escaped any state licensing action.
Types of violations causing Clinical Privileging Actions
The reason for the actions against these 5,887 physicians included:
- 220 physicians disciplined because they were an “Immediate Threat to Health or Safety”
- 1,119 physicians disciplined because of incompetence, negligence or malpractice
- 605 physicians disciplined because of substandard care
Other categories of serious deviations of physician behavior/performance that resulted in clinical privilege revocation or restrictions included Sexual Misconduct, Unable to Practice Safely, fraud, including insurance fraud, fraud obtaining a license, and fraud against health care programs, and narcotics violations