State Medical Boards Fail to Discipline Doctors With Hospital Actions Against Them

March 15, 2011

Alan Levine
Robert Oshel, Ph.D.
Sidney Wolfe, M.D.

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Understanding the Problem

Concern about medical boards’ oversight of physicians’ performance is not new. In a 1988 report, the now closed Congressional Office of Technology Assessment noted that “State Boards are reluctant to censure physicians and accord accused physicians extensive opportunity for appeal…”[1]

In February 1997, June Gibbs Brown, the Inspector General at the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), testified before Congress, as follows:

“In February 1992, the OIG excluded a California oncologist for 10 years … because the OIG determined that he had rendered over 3,900 excessive, substandard, unnecessary, and potentially risky services to seven Medicare beneficiaries over a six year period of time … Once the exclusion was in place, the licensing board did revoke the doctor’s license. Then it stayed the revocation and put the license on probation. The stay has been lifted but if the OIG had not devoted its investigative power … to excluding this physician, the Medicare/Medicaid patient population would have continued to be at grave risk during the four years that the licensing board took to get to an exclusionable point in its process.”[2]


[1] Office of Technology Assessment,  Quality of Medical Care: Information for Consumers, 1988, page 12: http://www.princeton.edu/~ota/ns20/year_f.html

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