Senators ask regulators to ensure bad doctors get punished

03-28-2012
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We’ve blogged before about how slack supervision of state medical boards, which are charged with disciplining negligent doctors, has permitted many physicians who have acted improperly to go unpunished. Now, the issue is attracting notice from members of Congress.

Since the 1980s, although the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General has done a few investigations of state medical boards, it has not comprehensively evaluated them. A bipartisan trio of U.S. senators last month moved to end that dereliction of duty, asking the department to start actively overseeing the boards again.

A recent analysis of the National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File uncovered that in the past two decades, state medical boards failed to take action against more than 5,000 doctors who had been disciplined at their workplace—including 220 who were deemed an “immediate threat to health or safety of patients.”

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