A young health care journalist named William Heisel has put together a fascinating Google map of the United States highlighting case after case of state licensing boards going easy on doctors who abuse drugs, send fraudulent bills or engage in other misconduct. Check it out here.
For the latest news on Mr. Heisel’s blog about dangerous doctors, see this story about a psychiatrist who has been welcomed to Maine by the licensing board there despite a checkered history including a fraud conviction, drug abuse, a competence inquiry, and some forgetfulness to mention much of this on his licensing application.
Piecing the story together about a doctor who has traveled from state to state, with multiple disciplinary actions, takes practically a Pulitzer Prize level journalistic inquiry.
Mr. Heisel rightly raises the question about why these publicly funded state licensing boards are so secretive and slow to divulge information even when they have taken concrete action. Among the boards he criticizes: Maryland, where the licensing board says only that the doctor once worked there. This is in keeping with the experience of malpractice lawyers like me who know that the Maryland Board of Medicine is slow to act and won’t tell consumers much even when it has. (I discuss this in more depth in a chapter on “dangerous doctors” in my book: The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care — and Avoiding the Worst.
Whose interest are these medical boards serving?