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Small percentage of undisciplined doctors responsible for high rates

Although hospitals are required to report revocation, suspension, or restriction of a doctor’s clinical privileges for more than 30 days to the state medical board and National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), many hospitals do not always do so. According to the NPDB, at the end of 2001, 55% of all nonfederal hospitals registered had not reported even one disciplinary action against a doctor.

Hospitals do not always like to report disciplinary actions because of liability implications. The hospital may fear that the reported medical malpractice will cause legal battles, something that needs immediate changing according to consumer advocacy groups. Patients need to have accesses to view state medical board and NPDB records.

The Public Citizen consumer group has been compiling information on its “Questionable Doctors” database for various states, allowing consumers to have free access to the information. The current medical malpractice crisis, when broken down, has a lot to do with a small number of negligent doctors that have driven up medical malpractice insurance costs. One third of all medical malpractice awards and settlements have come from just 5% of doctors making payouts according to the NPDB, since 1990.

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