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On The State Licensing Process of Physicians

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By State Medical Boards

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By ROBERT JAMES CIMASI; MHA, ASA, FRICS, MCBA, AVA, CM&AA, CMP

By TODD A. ZIGRANG; MBA, MHA, ASA, FACHE

(C) Health Capital Consultants, LLC All rights reserved. St. Louis, MO USA

A SPECIAL ME-P REPORT

USA

http://www.HealthCapital.com

Every state and the District of Columbia require the licensure of all allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) physicians [1] Although the specific criteria for licensure vary by state, each state requires candidates to submit proof of completion of the requisite number of years of graduate medical education and passage of examinations verifying that “the physician is ready and able to practice competently and safely in an independent setting [2].

Moral Character

Additionally, a physician applying for licensure is typically required to have “good moral character,” absent his or her involvement in illegal activities [3] Most physicians satisfy the exam requirement by submitting proof of their successful completion of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA) to the licensure board [4] However, as some practicing physicians may have been licensed under a previously administered exam, certain state licensing boards may consider a combination of other examinations sufficient to meet licensure requirements, so long as those exams were completed prior to 2000 [5]

Of State Medical Boards

The licensure of physicians is governed by a state medical board, the “primary responsibility” of which board, according to the Federation of State Medical Boards, is to “protect consumers of health care by ensuring that all physicians…are properly licensed and comply with various laws and regulations pertaining to the practice of medicine[6] To accomplish this goal, state legislatures have delegated certain powers to the state’s medical board, including the power to grant, suspend, and revoke licenses; conduct investigations into complaints against physicians; and, release guidelines related to best medical practices [7] State medical boards have traditionally consisted solely of physicians; however, there has recently been an increase in the number of non-physician board members on state medical boards [8].

History

Over the last 50 years, state medical boards have faced intense scrutiny regarding their commitment to disciplining physicians based on quality concerns [9] In 1960, the American Medical Association (AMA) heard “sobering” facts from the Federation of State Medical Boards that “much confusion over the definitions and objectives exists” related to state medical board enforcement of medical standards [10] From 1963 to 1967, 0.06% of all physicians were subject to discipline, while in 1981, 0.14% of all physicians were subject to discipline, due in large part to the problems identified by the AMA [11] Although the rate of physician discipline rose eightfold by the mid-1990s, to date, there are continuing concerns regarding state medical board enforcement of quality standards.

A March 2011 report by advocacy group Public Citizen found that over 55% of physicians who faced clinical privilege disciplines by hospitals from 1990 to 2009 did not have a corresponding action from a state medical board [12] Additionally, in 2011, state medical boards imposed 3.06 “serious disciplinary actions” (e.g., revocations, surrenders, suspensions, and probations of medical licenses) per 1,000 physicians, an increase from the 2010 rate of 2.97 per 1,000, but a decrease from the 2004 rate of 3.72 per 1,000 [13] Numerous reasons have been offered to explain the disparity in quality enforcement by state medical boards, the most prominent being that physicians are loath to report fellow physicians for major disciplinary actions such as licensure revocation[14]

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Assessment

Other reasons include a focus by state medical boards on “character-related misconduct” over clinical quality standards [15] as well as a lack of resources to investigate and enforce quality standards, which forces state medical boards to rely on physicians and hospitals to “police” themselves [16].

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OUR OTHER PRINT BOOKS AND RELATED INFORMATION SOURCES:

 REFERENCES

[1]       “State Medical Boards: Future Challenges for Regulation and Quality Enhancement of Medical Care,” By James N. Thompson, Journal of Legal Medicine, Vol. 33, No. 9 (January-March 2012).

[2]       “State Medical Boards: Future Challenges for Regulation and Quality Enhancement of Medical Care,” By James N. Thompson, Journal of Legal Medicine, Vol. 33, No. 9 (January-March 2012); “Healthcare Valuation: The Four Pillars of Healthcare Value,” By Robert James Cimasi, MHA, ASA, FRICS, MCBA, AVA, CM&AA, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014, p. 449-450.

[3]       “Medical Practice: Education and Licensure,” in “Legal Medicine,” By S. Sandy Sanbar et al., 6th Ed., Mosby, 2004, p. 81.

[4]       “Medical Licensure,” American Medical Association, 2014, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/education-careers/becoming-physician/medical-licensure.page, (Accessed 12/19/14); “COMLEX-USA,” National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, 2014, http://www.nbome.org/exams-faq.asp (Accessed 12/19/14).

[5]       “Medical Licensure,” American Medical Association, 2014, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/education-careers/becoming-physician/medical-licensure.page, (Accessed on 12/19/14); “Healthcare Valuation: The Four Pillars of Healthcare Value,” By Robert James Cimasi, MHA, ASA, FRICS, MCBA, AVA, CM&AA, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014, p. 450.

[6]       “What is a State Medical Board?” Federation of State Medical Boards, 2014, http://www.fsmb.org/policy/what-is-a-smb-faq (Accessed 12/19/14).

[7]       “What is a State Medical Board?” Federation of State Medical Boards, 2014, http://www.fsmb.org/policy/what-is-a-smb-faq (Accessed 12/19/14).

[8]       “What is a State Medical Board?” Federation of State Medical Boards, 2014, http://www.fsmb.org/policy/what-is-a-smb-faq (Accessed 12/19/14); “Character, Competence, and the Principles of Medical Discipline,” By Nadia N. Sawicki, Journal of Health Care Law & Policy, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2010, p. 291.

[9]       “Character, Competence, and the Principles of Medical Discipline,” By Nadia N. Sawicki, Journal of Health Care Law & Policy, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2010, p. 287, n. 7; “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System – Summary,” Institute of Medicine, 2000, http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/1999/To-Err-is-Human/To%20Err%20is%20Human%201999%20%20report%20brief.pdf (Accessed 12/19/14).

[10]     “Medical Licensure Statistics for 1960,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 176, No. 8 (May 27, 1961), p. 694.

[11]     “Medical Licensing Board Characteristics and Physician Discipline: An Empirical Analysis,” By Mark T. Law & Zeynep K. Hansen, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 35, No. 1 (February 2010), p. 66.

[12]     “State Medical Boards Fail to Discipline Doctors with Hospital Actions Against Them,” By Alan Levine et al., Public Citizen, March 2011, http://www.citizen.org/documents/1937.pdf (Accessed 12/19/14).

[13]     “Public Citizen’s Health Research Group Ranking of the Rate of State Medical Boards’ Serious Disciplinary Actions, 2009-2011,” By Sidney M. Wolfe, M.D., et al., Public Citizen, May 17, 2012, http://www.citizen.org/documents/2034.pdf (Accessed 12/19/14).

[14]     “Medical Boards are Too Lax, Critics Claim,” By Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA, MedScape, October 17, 2014, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/833141 (Accessed 12/3/14);

[15]     “Character, Competence, and the Principles of Medical Discipline,” By Nadia N. Sawicki, Journal of Health Care Law & Policy, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2010, p. 287.

[16]     “Medical Licensing Board Characteristics and Physician Discipline: An Empirical Analysis,” By Mark T. Law & Zeynep K. Hansen, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 35, No. 1 (February 2010), p. 90; “Medical Licensure Statistics for 1960,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 176, No. 8, May 27, 1961, p. 694.

NC Update: H543v2 – 04152015

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3 Responses

  1. NC Medical Board Update House Bill 543

    This is the bill, entitled H543, that is before the NC legislature this session. My reading of the bill is that the bill is a disaster. It seems to be an attempt by the lobbyists and lawyers to remove many existing features of the present law.

    https://healthcarefinancials.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/h543v2-04152015.pdf

    In particular, I would direct your attention to two features:

    1) It appears that all mention of due process has been removed from the law. The NC State Auditor found that the NCPHP had not afforded due process as required by law, so one simply changes the law to remove all mention of due process.

    2) There is a clause inserted in the law to immunize the NCPHP against civil liability for the performance of the NCPHP function. In other words, the state statute declares that one cannot bring legal action against the NCPHP because they are immune. This is absurd. These people should be no more immune than any other doctor in the state of North Carolina.

    In addition, the proposed statute seems to attempt to haze out whether the NCPHP record is or is not a medical record. As you will see, one would be entitled to a copy of an Assessment but it would appear not the entire medical record. This is contrary to the NC Medical Board position paper on medical records.

    I would urge everyone to immediately contact his or her appropriate Senator and Representative to register opposition to this bill as written, and to urge that an expert panel of dis-interested physicians and attorneys be appointed to write a new bill that would be appropriate.

    A colleague of mine who is a medical ethicist has reviewed this and had the following to say:

    Well, well! I think the most interesting thing here is that someone has tried to get the NC Legislature to immunize the existing system against any countering action. This, it seems to me, is tacit admission of culpability.

    Well stated, I would say.

    JESSE Cavenar Jr.
    via Michael Langan MD
    http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781498725989

    Like

  2. Supreme Court Decision Deals Blow to Monopolistic State Medical Boards
    [Bad news for trade-restraining state medical boards, good news for consumers in teeth-whitening case]

    On February 25, the US Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina’s dental board violated antitrust laws by shutting down hair salons and day spas that offered teeth whitening services.

    http://www.anh-usa.org/supreme-court-decision-deals-blow-to-monopolistic-state-medical-boards/

    According to the Wall Street Journal, “The decision preserves the power of antitrust enforcers to scrutinize professional licensing organizations, even if they are designated as state-government entities.”

    Darin

    Like

  3. There are Now 953K Actively Licensed Physicians in U.S.
    [How many Docs?]

    The newly released “2016 Census of Actively Licensed Physicians in the United States” has been published by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). The census, released every two years in the Journal of Medical Regulation, uses data received by the FSMB from the nation’s state medical and osteopathic licensing boards.

    The total population of licensed physicians has increased by 12% since 2010, growing from 850,085 actively licensed physicians in 2010 to 953,695 in 2016. Female physicians now account for one-third of all actively licensed physicians. In 2010, 30% were female, rising to 34% in 2016. The number of U.S. citizens who graduated from Caribbean medical schools increased by 95% since 2010. In 2010, there were 11,037 actively licensed physicians who were U.S. citizen Caribbean medical graduates, and in 2016 there were 21,519.

    Source: Al Saint Jacques, MDLinx [7/24/17]

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