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News: Number of disciplinary actions against docs continues to fall

Number of disciplinary actions against doctors fell for the third straight year in 2007.

The number of disciplinary actions against doctors by state medical boards fell for the third straight year in 2007, according to American Medical News (5/12/08). This total represents both prejudicial actions, which include serious discipline such as license revocation and suspension, as well as less-serious nonprejudicial actions.

In its annual report, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) reported that since 2004, when disciplinary actions across the nation reached a high of 6,265, the total of such actions has declined 15%. The drop from 2005 to 2007 was highest for prejudicial actions-17%. The decreases in this period represent a reversal of an upward trend in medical board disciplinary actions from 1997 through 2004.

The news comes on the heels of intense medical board scrutiny in Kansas and Nevada and legislation proposed or enacted in more than a dozen states aimed at strengthening medical board powers. In Kansas, for example, the state senate unanimously passed a bill aimed at giving the board power to act on a single complaint. Currently, the board must document a pattern of misconduct. The bill is before the Kansas House of Representatives and Governor Kathleen Sebelius has promised to sign it.

The FSMB represents the 70 medical boards of the United States and its territories.