A new report by non-profit organization Public Citizen has placed Georgia on the list of ten worst states based on doctor discipline records. The report takes into consideration the numbers of disciplinary actions taken by the state’s boards of medical examiners against negligent physicians. In Georgia, the rate of actions against such doctors is a dismal 2.40 actions for every 1,000 physicians. The state is tenth on the list following Minnesota with a paltry .95 actions per 1,000 doctors, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Connecticut, New Hampshire Maryland, Florida and California.
Not only that, Georgia is also specially marked for criticism as one of the states with the largest decrease in rank for disciplinary action rates. Between 2001 and 20003, the state was at number 15 on the list, while it has dropped to number 42 in this year’s report.
Georgia should take a page out of the book of fellow southern states like Kentucky and Louisiana, each of which features in the ten best states for serious disciplinary actions against doctors. That list also includes Alaska where 6.54 serious disciplinary actions were taken for every 1,000 doctors, Kentucky with 5.87 disciplinary actions, Louisiana with 4.74 actions besides Ohio, Arizona, Okalahoma, North Dakota, Iowa, Colorado and Maine.
According to Public Citizen, there’s evidence that boards across the country are underperforming in their duty to discipline doctors. A separate report on doctor discipline actions revealed that 67 percent of doctors convicted of insurance fraud and 36 percent convicted for substance abuse were treated only to “non severe discipline.” For this report, Public Citizen has focused only on serious disciplinary actions like license suspensions and revocations, and has not taken into consideration minor actions, like fines and reprimands.
State boards of medical examiners have a duty to protect patients from medical malpractice, and disciplining negligent physicians is a vitally important part of the process. Georgia’s medical malpractice lawyers can step in to obtain compensation for patients who have been injured by a doctor’s negligence but it’s the duty of board of medical examiners to ensure that these injuries don’t occur in the first place. The board can do this by taking disciplinary action against doctors at the very first instance of negligence.