State medical board fails to discipline, disclose bad docs

The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice has done the worst job of disciplining doctors in the nation, according to Public Citizen's 2011 ranking of state medical boards. But not much has changed, as the Minnesota medical board punished only 32 doctors out of 728 complaints last year, reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Over the past decade, the board failed to discipline about 37 Minnesota doctors who were disciplined by hospitals, surgical centers and other healthcare organizations where they worked.

But that may be because the Minnesota medical board often issues a "corrective action," such as making a physician take classes or work under supervision, actions not considered formal discipline and therefore not reported to the federal database, the article noted. Corrective action accounted for more than 20 percent of the 363 board actions taken since 2000.

Adding to public safety concerns is the fact that Minnesota's board also doesn't disclose information, such as malpractice settlements or whether doctors have been disciplined in other states, to the public, according to another Star Tribune article.

In keeping with state law, any information the medical board acquires as part of a complaint investigation must remain confidential, board Executive Director Robert Leach pointed out.

Meanwhile, a $1.25 million budget cut in Wisconsin could prevent the state's medical examining board from efficiently investigating bad doctors, jeopardizing patient safety, reported WTMY News. The state wants to take the $141 license fee doctors pay every two years to supervise their trade and use it to fill a budget gap.

To learn more:
- here's the Minneapolis Star Tribune articles on discipline and disclosure
- here's the WTMJ News article