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National Physician License Verification: Are Loose Restrictions Allowing Bad Doctors to Practice?

November 12, 2020

According to a report from USA Today, hospitals have taken fewer disciplinary actions against physicians than in previous years. Both suspensions and restrictions of physician’s licenses by healthcare facilities have decreased. This decline in disciplinary actions causes concern for patient safety advocates who worry that patients may be more vulnerable to harm. Vigilant healthcare entities can protect against this decrease in discipline by conducting thorough medical license verifications.

Medical Errors Slipping Through the Cracks Due to COVID-19

During the months of April-June of 2020, emergency actions against physicians dropped by 59%. License suspensions and restrictions dropped by 85% in April alone, according to the Health and Services Administration. This drop-in emergency actions have not been consistent from one state to another, but six states (New York, Indiana, Texas, Maryland, Michigan, and Kentucky) have the largest decreases – from 50% to 100%.

Tracing the cause for such a precipitous drop in disciplinary actions isn’t easy, but one correlation stands out – COVID-19. As the effects of the pandemic reached hospitals and many facilities became short-staffed, fewer complaints may have reached state medical boards due to fewer in-person patient visits, delays in reporting, or legal delays. In some states, there is a backlog of complaints.

Whatever the cause, one fact remains clear – state medical boards’ actions against physicians have dropped, which may be dangerous for vulnerable patients. Since applying disciplinary action against physicians may take longer than before, hospitals must take preemptive action such as thorough screening and ongoing monitoring of physician license status to protect patients during the pandemic.

How Medical License Verification Safeguards Patients

To keep your patients safe, it’s essential to verify physician licenses to make sure they are valid, current, and in good standing. Medical license verification and ongoing monitoring of license status allow healthcare organizations to check their providers against multiple state and federal databases and exclusion lists. Physician license verification should be performed when a new provider is hired and on a regular basis in case license status changes while a provider is practicing. Verifying physician licenses on an ongoing basis can help keep patients safe by discovering issues from state boards in real-time.

This verification process can be complex and time-consuming, especially when hospitals have limited staff, resources, and time. Verified License Search and Status by Verisys can help by verifying, gathering, and monitoring primary source data from all state medical boards and all federal sources to provide real-time, continuous medical license verification for healthcare providers throughout the nation.

Juliette Willard Written by Juliette Willard
Healthcare Communications Specialist
Being creative is my passion! Writer. Painter. Problem Solver. Optimist.
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