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Friday, September 6, 2013

Dangerous Doctors Allowed to Keep Practicing

By Peter Eisler and Barbara Hansen
USA Today
Originally published August 20, 2013

Here is an excerpt:

Despite years of criticism, the nation's state medical boards continue to allow thousands of physicians to keep practicing medicine after findings of serious misconduct that puts patients at risk, a USA TODAY investigation shows. Many of the doctors have been barred by hospitals or other medical facilities; hundreds have paid millions of dollars to resolve malpractice claims. Yet their medical licenses — and their ability to inflict harm — remain intact.

The problem isn't universal. Some state boards have responded to complaints and become more transparent and aggressive in policing bad doctors.

But state and federal records still paint a grim picture of a physician oversight system that often is slow to act, quick to excuse problems, and struggling to manage workloads in an era of tight state budgets.

USA TODAY reviewed records from multiple sources, including the public file of the National Practitioner Data Bank, a federal repository set up to help medical boards track physicians' license records, malpractice payments, and disciplinary actions imposed by hospitals, HMOs and other institutions that manage doctors. By law, reports must be filed with the Data Bank when any of the nation's 878,000 licensed doctors face "adverse actions" — and the reports are intended to be monitored closely by medical boards.

The entire narrative and video story is here.
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