Physician Licensing and Disciplining: Lessons from Indiana
13 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2016
Date Written: July 31, 2016
State medical boards use professional licensing and discipline to enforce minimum performance standards. Using forty-four years of data (1972-2015) on physician licensing and discipline obtained from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, we identify factors associated with a higher likelihood of being discipline. Only 1.3% of the sixty-three thousand licensed physicians in our dataset were disciplined. The most common reasons for disciplinary action were drug-diversion (25%); incompetence (18%); drug abuse (17%), alcohol-abuse (10%), and sexual misconduct (9%). The most common disciplinary sanctions were probation (26%); suspension (25%); and revocation (17%). Regression analyses indicated that the following factors were associated with a higher likelihood of being disciplined: male gender; earlier license year; holding more Controlled Substance Registrations; and specializing in family medicine/general practice, psychiatry, and obstetrics and gynecology. Psychiatrists, obstetricians and gynecologists are especially likely to be sanctioned for sexual offenses; family physicians or general practitioners for drug-diversion; and anesthesiologists for substance abuse. Negligence or incompetence cases are less likely to be severely sanctioned. Research continues on the degree of overlap between the medical malpractice and disciplinary systems.
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