Leading Patient Advocates Find Safety Information Lacking

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Leading patient safety advocates with the Informed Patient Institute and the Patient Safety Action Network recently conducted a comprehensive review of 64 state medical and osteopathic boards, evaluating how well they informed the public online. The report, entitled Looking for Doctor Information Online: A Survey and Ranking of State Medical and Osteopathic Board Websites in 2021, found that information about a physician's practice history is often incomplete and difficult to access online.

Sixteen criteria were used to evaluate and rank the sites. Most states failed to include just half of the information the public will need to assess their doctors. The top four state boards were the Florida Medical Board, Florida Osteopathic Board, Maryland Medical Board, and the New Jersey Medical Board. The Texas Medical Board ranked 12th. The four lowest-ranking boards were the Indiana Medical Board, Alaska Medical Board, Michigan Medical Board, and Michigan Osteopathic Board. 

“Would you want to know if your doctor had been disciplined and why? Whether they had malpractice settlements? Whether they could no longer practice at a hospital because of some safety concern by the hospital? Or, whether they had a criminal record?” asked Lisa McGiffert, Board Chair of the Patient Safety Action Network. “The reality is that most states only provide a sliver of this pertinent information that may tell a doctor’s history of harming or putting patients at risk.” 

The report includes important recommendations for state medical boards to expand information on physician profiles, improve transparency, and simplify complaint filing processes.

The report, authored by Carol Cronin, Executive Director of the Informed Patient Institute (IPI) (https://www.informedpatientinstitute.org/) and Lisa McGiffert, Board President, Patient Safety Action Network (PSAN) (https://www.patientsafetyaction.org/) builds on comparable work published in 2016; see https://www.informedpatientinstitute.org/Seeking%20Doctor%20Information%20Online.pdf. The project was overseen by the Medical Board Roundtable—a national coalition of patient and consumer advocates interested in increasing public awareness and responsiveness of state medical boards to patients, families and the public. For more information: https://www.patientsafetyaction.org/medical-board-round-table. Texas Watch is a member of PSAN.

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