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Doctors who lose hospital privileges are rarely disciplined

According to a new study published by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, doctors who lose their hospital privileges as a result of incompetency are rarely disciplined by state licensing authorities.  The group's research reported that 32 states allowed more than one-half of all doctors who lost hospital privileges to escape any discipline, whatsoever.

The report was based on data from the National Practitioner Data Bank collected from 1990 to  2009.   It studied the files of more than 10,000 doctors,  55 percent  of whom were not disciplined by their licensing board, despite suffering privilege limitations at the hospital where they practiced.   One of the study's authors noted that even the foundation data--showing that only 10,000 doctors were disciplined in all states during  20 years of study--was an indictment of hospital's disciplinary efforts.  The fact that the majority of these physicians also suffered no discipline at the licensing level was a tragedy.  The study identified individual doctors who racked up multiple deaths and serious injuries to their patients after they lost privileges without suffering licensing discipline.  The study noted that of the 5887 doctors who lost privileges but weren't disciplined, 1119 wer found guilty of incompetence, 605 were disciplined for substandard care, and 220 were identified as "an immediate threat to health or safety."

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