Rep. Ron Wyden, said Friday he will ask Congress to help in disciplining and weeding out bad physicians by making doctors more accountable to their state licensing boards.
"Too many incompetent physicians can slip through the disciplinary net and continue to inflict bad medical care on patients for extended periods of time," said Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.He endorsed the recommendations of an inspector general's report, saying he'll introduce legislation to force federally supported peer review groups to give state medical boards information about their investigations of doctors.
The peer review organizations study complaints about physicians who receive money from Medicare.
But little of that information is passed along to boards that license doctors and investigate complaints about their practices, witnesses told the subcommittee on regulation.
Richard Kusserow, inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the review organizations have lots of information about bad doctors but are unwilling to share much of it because they fear legal retribution.
"Until they're protected by the law, they're just not going to overcome their fear," Kusserow said.
That protection, said a representative of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, would help state boards with limited financial backing gather information so they can keep up with a growing number of complaints.
"Focus the energy and resources we have available on the problem physician," said James R. Winn, executive vice president of the group.