According to a new study published in BMJ Quality and Safety, the percentage of doctors who get disciplined or who pay a medical malpractice claim, is four times less in some states than others. And New York came up short.
The researchers out of the University of Michigan Medical School examined state medical board physician disciplinary action rates using the US National Practitioner Data Bank and the American Medical Association estimates of physician demographics across all 50 states and the District of Columbia from 2010 to 2014. Results were adjusted using a multilevel logistic model controlling for year of disciplinary action, physicians per capita in each state, and the rate of malpractice claims per physician in each state.
For the US as a whole there are 3.75 actions – including 1.15 that are “serious” – annually, for every 1,000 practicing physicians. The variation among states, however, remains large. Delaware scored the highest, with 7.93 actions per 1,000 physicians, 2.71 of which were major infractions. Dissimilarly, Massachusetts had the lowest of all actions, at 2.13; and New York had the lowest rate of major infractions, at 0.64. Connecticut and Pennsylvania also scored low.
The difference is not likely due to a fourfold variance in the behaviors of the doctors from state to state, but rather, the wide variation between regulations and procedures for punishing physician wrongdoing. The researchers believe other factors could also be to blame, including how easily one can make a complaint, how many resources a board has to investigate complaints, the makeup of the board including how many non-physicians are on it, and the standards for making a judgment and selecting a disciplinary action.
In sum, and as suggested by the researchers, New York should consider employing policies to improve standardization and coordination to ensure public safety. Bottar Leone, PLLC’s team of New York medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience investigating and prosecuting cases where heath care providers fail to meet the standard of care. If you have questions about the care you received, do not hesitate to contact us.