A report recently issued by the Wisconsin State Journal condemns the state for its low physician discipline rate and ranks it with four other “low discipline” states, among which is Massachusetts. The implications of these findings in terms of the incident rate of misdiagnosis, delayed treatment and physician negligence are potentially far-reaching for both patients and medical staff in these states.
Wisconsin’s rate of disciplinary actions taken against physicians is only 1.9 per 1,000 physicians; a watchdog group noted that while this low rate could be attributed to exceptional care on behalf of the doctors, it is more probable that discipline isn’t being conducted as often as it should. The report indicates that only 50 percent of doctors who actually were disciplined between 2010 and 2012 received more than a reprimand, and another group criticizes the medical board’s insufficient monitoring of physicians, which enables incompetent ones to act with impunity in many cases. The ineffectiveness of the state’s medical board has been pinned partially on diminished state funds.
With Massachusetts’ comparable position to Wisconsin in terms of low physician discipline, its medical board as well could come under fire in the coming months; the purpose and efficacy of the board will no doubt be questioned as Wisconsin’s medical board has in the face of angry patients and their families who have been saddled with exorbitant medical debt.
Until the medical boards in Massachusetts, Wisconsin and elsewhere are assessed and reformed in a cost-effective and efficient way, many patients and their families will continue to be affected by the often dire ramifications of cancer misdiagnosis, including worsened condition and delayed treatment, as well as general negligence on behalf of medical staff that goes unpunished. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer, however, may assist these families in recovering for medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Source: FierceHealthcare, “Are state medical boards doing enough to protect patients?,” Karen Cheung-Larivee, Jan. 29, 2013