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Medical board votes to post malpractice records online

Posted July 16, 2008

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— The North Carolina Medical Board voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of adding medical providers' malpractice judgments and settlements to its Web site.

Since 2001, the medical board has posted basic professional and licensing information about physicians and physician's assistants, as well as any charges, allegations and disciplinary action the medical board has taken against them.

Wednesday's decision means malpractice judgments and settlements over a seven-year period that are greater than $25,000 will also be posted to profiles. Information on payments less than $25,000 will not be collected for public purposes.

Twenty-five other state medical boards already make malpractice awards available to patients online.

But North Carolina's plan would not include payments before Oct. 1, 2007 – the date a law went into effect that requires the additional information to be posted online.

"We felt the public did have a right to know more," said Dr. Jan Rhyne, the medical board's president. "We are seeing this as one way to regain the public trust, but also, we are trying to be transparent."

The board came under fire several years ago for its handling of several cases in other parts of the state. Critics claimed the board "protects" doctors.

It initially proposed putting all malpractice judgment and settlements online but opponents argued that doctors settle malpractice claims for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of medical care. Posting that information could be misconstrued, they argued.

"We think they should just put on the Web site the ones where the physician was at fault," said Dr. Hadley Callaway, president of the North Carolina Medical Society, which represents the interests of more than 12,000 doctors across the state.

"Where it was a disagreement between physician and patient on treatment, it should not be on the Web site."

Other information about providers would also be posted, including disciplinary actions by other medical boards, felony convictions and misdemeanors and whether a provider has had his or her hospital privileges revoked.

Callaway said that could mean future complications.

"We think it discourages new physicians from coming to the state of North Carolina," he said. "It discourages physicians who are here taking care of difficult patients."

Next, the plan must go before the North Carolina Rules Review Commission, possibly in August., Jean Fisher Brinkley, the medical board's public affairs director, said.

If at least 10 opponents file letters with the commission, the proposal would then go to the General Assembly.

It could be in place as early as fall 2009, but could be delayed if there is opposition.

9 Comments

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  • lampagenda Jul 17, 2008

    This is ridiculous. It provides absolutely no useful information whatsoever. What possible "informed decision" can one make with the knowledge that a claim was paid? It is nothing but misleading at best and appears more libelous than anything else. If anyone out there can provide any actual reasons as to how this information could possibly be useful I would love to hear it. The medical board can provide no reasons. The platitudes of "regain the public trust" and "be transparent" is nothing more than the emperor's new clothes. It's the usual stupid political response to criticism by the media. It doesn't address any real issues but LOOKS like it does.

  • See Chart Jul 16, 2008

    That's great news , we know more about
    detergents then we do our own Medical Doctors.
    NC becomes more liberal that even New York State in
    allowing it's citizens to view malpractice
    judgments that have hurt or killed patients.

  • jurywatch Jul 16, 2008

    Used to be that docs could bury the results when one of their safety-rule violations (which they like to call "mistakes") hurt someone. But mistakes don't result in settlements or verdicts; safety-rules violations are the cause ever time. Now we might get to see at least some of them. But docs and hospitals still want to hide. What's the difference how much the settlement was? A safety-rule violation hurts people no matter the dollar value, and patients ought to know about it. Safety-rule violations for drivers are public knowledge; why not for docs and hospitals? Solely because it lets them go on violating the safety rules, which save them time, trouble, and money.

  • ThisIsMyName Jul 16, 2008

    Soon you'll be able to look-up online which one of your neighbors has ever looked at pornographic material.

  • clintoflannagan Jul 16, 2008

    Yeah I'm pretty sure someone is going to go to a doctor who has a bunch of judgments solely for the purpose of intentionally subjecting themselves to potential death or serious injury on the outside shot that they might get some money in the future. If people really thought like that they'd be throwing themselves in front of moving cars all the time. Give me a break.

  • klcmomof2 Jul 16, 2008

    I see this two ways. It is positive for the patients researching, but could back fire as some might see it as a way to find a dr. with lots of judgements so they could cash in as well...

  • alwaysCool Jul 16, 2008

    It's about time.

  • NZ Jul 16, 2008

    Interesting to see the medical board taking on an issue within their scope, rather than trying to direct the law on criminal punishments.

  • spartanpirate Jul 16, 2008

    As it should be. Now if people will just look on their website they can make an informed decision as to whether they want to go to that particular doctor. So many times they leave one state and go to another without their record following.

    Good for the Medical Board. Bad for the bad doctor.