E-mail alert on disciplined doctors

July 1, 2007

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The Disciplinary Alert Service of the Federation of State Medical Boards is making it more difficult for a physician disciplined in one state to move to and practice in another. The service, implemented in 2000, alerts medical boards via e-mail within 24 to 48 hours when a licensee is disciplined in another state.

Already, the federation has seen more and more states taking action against a licensee who has been disciplined in another state. These reciprocal actions-including discipline for sexual misconduct, substance abuse, and probation violations-rose 37% from 786 in 2003 to 1,073 in 2006. The service "has virtually stopped the ability of disciplined physicians to seek a geographical solution to their problems," David Henderson, executive director of the North Carolina Medical Board, told American Medical News (5/21/07).

The success of the Disciplinary Alert Service has prompted the National Practitioner Data Bank to start a similar program, known as the Proactive Disclosure Service. Launched in April, the service will notify hospitals, health plans, and other subscribers within 1 business day whenever the data bank receives a report about a disciplinary action, malpractice payment, or professional society action against a physician or other practitioner.