Maryland Legislation Would Shield Bad Doctors Who Engage in Serious Misconduct

Feb. 22, 2019

Maryland Legislation Would Shield Bad Doctors Who Engage in Serious Misconduct

Public Citizen’s Health Research Group Urges Rejection of Senate Bill No. 372

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Maryland Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee should not advance Senate Bill No. 372 because it would seriously compromise patient access to information about important disciplinary actions taken by the Maryland Board of Physicians against doctors who have been found to engage in serious misconduct, Public Citizen said today in a letter to the committee.

The bill would require the board to expunge all records of discipline that involved placement on probation or a public reprimand three years after final deposition of the case and make it more difficult for the board to investigate and discipline physicians, putting patient safety at serious risk.
The legislation is scheduled to be taken up at a hearing of the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

“Who wouldn’t want to know that physicians they were considering seeing for treatment have been reprimanded or placed on probation by the board for providing substandard or inadequate care or for engaging in various types of unprofessional conduct,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.  “Lawmakers must not make patients in Maryland less safe by denying them permanent access to information needed to make rational and informed decisions when choosing a physician.”

Doctors in Maryland commonly are placed on probation or reprimanded by the board for serious offenses. A Public Citizen analysis of publicly available data from the National Practitioner Data Bank shows that over the past 10 years 1,687 licensure actions were reported by the board to the data bank. Nearly half of these actions involved placement on probation or a public reprimand or censure, and a significant proportion of these cases involved substandard or inadequate care or unprofessional conduct.

The board discloses on its website all disciplinary actions previously taken by the board against any physician licensed in Maryland. Expunging all records of a public reprimand or probation after three years would deprive patients and their families of the right to know a physician’s complete disciplinary history, Public Citizen said.

Read the letter (PDF).