It's official. The Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure really is shameful - according to Consumer Reports. The magazine analyzed all state medical licensure boards and rated them in the current issue. The results were not pretty as the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure ranked dead last out of all fifty states and was far behind the next highest board. MBML had the worst website and did the poorest job of disclosing disciplinary actions taken against doctors. Article.
|Screenshot of Consumer Reports rankings. Click on image to enlarge.|
Consumer Reports and its partners placed a great deal of emphasis on medical licensure board's websites and how much information was made available to consumers. After all, people may want to know which doctors have been disciplined for some strange reason. Consumer Reports argued:
If you’re looking for information about your doctor, you may find yourself searching the website of your state’s medical board. Those are the agencies that license physicians and also discipline them for offenses including sexual misconduct, substance abuse, and negligent care. But the accuracy and completeness of the information you find, and even how often doctors are punished, can depend on your state. That’s according to two new reports, one from Consumer Reports and the other from researchers at the University of Michigan.
Mississippi's website has a list of currently-licensed physicians. The website provides a complaint form in pdf format (which is more than we can say for the Mississippi Bar). However, the actual complaints are not public records under Mississippi law. The only information the Board provides about wayward doctors on the website is a terse four-line entry that states the name of the doctor, location of doctor, and the action taken by the board. The actions described are vague in nature and do not provide any information about why the doctor was disciplined by the board. One has to dig through the website to get to them as well. One must click on the "board action reports" tab. "Discipline" or similar terms that might make it easier to find disciplinary action are not posted anywhere on the site. A website designed by bureaucrats for bureaucrats.* Check out the website's home page:
Compare that website to California's:
Notice what stands out immediately on the California website? Complaint forms, license verification, and any actions taken against a physician. It is very consumer friendly. That is what an "excellent" medical board of licensure website is. A click on the "actions taken" button takes the reader to a search page. "Smith" was entered in the last name field to yield this result:
Can't have something like this in Mississippi. Board members might call it "shameful". Dr. Craig would have actually been forced to do some work. Go to that webpage and click on some of the license numbers. The site provides pdf files of the actual cases and decisions instead of just a four line entry on a website that reveals little information. Consumer Reports continued
But, as Consumer Reports’ analysis found, those state boards fall short in other measures, too. In fact, in many instances, physicians who have been severely disciplined continue to practice while their offenses remain relatively hidden, buried deep on the boards' websites or unavailable entirely online. (See the Ratings chart, below, to see how state medical board websites compared.)
“People are generally not aware that doctors on probation for serious issues such as sexual misconduct, drug abuse, and gross negligence continue to practice,” McGiffert says. “These doctors should be required to inform their patients of their probationary status.”JJ will post the second Consumer Reports article on this subject.