The first national research study of its kind shows remarkable disparities in the cases of malpractice and disciplinary actions against physicians across the country. The likelihood that a doctor will be disciplined or pay an award in a malpractice claim seems in part to depend upon the state where they practice. Part of the reason for that disparity is the variation in physician standards and regulations from state to state.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School found that some states varied in doctor and physician discipline rates by as much as four times. Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New York had the lowest number of disciplinary cases against physicians. On the opposite end of the scale, Ohio, Delaware, and Kentucky had the highest.
The study considered data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Practitioner Data Bank on actions taken by state medical boards against physicians who had allegedly done something wrong on the job. This includes anything from prescribing the wrong medication to patient neglect or abuse. Physician punishments recorded in the Data Bank range from minimal fines to the suspension of a physician’s license.
Doctors Must Be Held to Fair Standards
The University of Michigan researchers are not speculating as to what the acceptable rate of physician discipline is. However, study findings show that more needs to be done to standardize medical malpractice and discipline regulations and procedures nationwide. For all medical professionals to be held to the same ethical standard, states with the highest and lowest number of malpractice cases need to reevaluate their procedures.
Part of the problem, the University of Michigan Medical School researchers feel, is that the United States does not currently have a national governing body in existence to regulate physician behavior. That leaves the door open for certain states to overlook more deficient physician behavior than others. It also allows physicians facing severe disciplinary actions in one state to relocate and practice in a more lenient state, potentially putting patients at risk.
Philadelphia Health Care Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Are Experienced in Health Care Law
Navigating state and federal health care laws can be a daunting process. Physicians and other medical professionals benefit from the guidance of our Philadelphia health care lawyers whether they are negotiating employment or contract agreements or facing civil or criminal claims. Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. are knowledgeable about all aspects of health care law and advocate for physicians. Call our Center City Philadelphia offices at 215-569-1999 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation regarding your case.