June 13, 2011

Lawmakers Tighten Doctor Discipline

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The state legislature has adopted a provision that will make it easier for the Connecticut Medical Examining Board to discipline doctors who have faced license suspension or disciplinary action in other states.

The new provision would allow the board or the Department of Public Health to act against the licenses of doctors who have been disciplined in other states, based solely on the “findings and conclusions” made by authorities in those other jurisdictions.

Such reciprocal discipline is already routine in other states, but Connecticut officials have said they wanted a clear legislative directive to allow them to act quickly against practitioners whose licenses are revoked or suspended in other jurisdictions.

Last December, C-HIT reported that the state Department of Public Health and the medical examining board were allowing some physicians whose licenses had been revoked or suspended in other states to practice freely in Connecticut. The review found that Connecticut often takes no action against doctors who are disciplined in nearby Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York, in contrast to medical boards in those other states, which impose automatic reciprocal sanctions after Connecticut takes action.

A spokesman for the state health department had said that Connecticut takes a wide range of sanctions to address physician misconduct, but that reciprocal actions based on other states’ disciplinary sanctions were difficult and time-consuming.  Because of that, he said, the department was putting forward the legislative proposal for explicit statutory authority to rely on the disciplinary findings of another state.

The proposal is contained in a larger package of revisions to public health statutes passed by the legislature that will become effective Oct. 1.

Also included in the revisions is specific language allowing the state health department to issue “interim” consent orders that suspend or restrict the licenses of health care practitioners while the agency investigates allegations of wrongdoing.

Read the original story Disciplines Docs Practice Freely In State.

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