Medical Board Roundtable Summary, 2/9/15


UPDATE ON 12/14 MEETING: During the December meeting, the group discussed and agreed on a goal: to work together on a coordinated project that addresses state medical board reform. A paper outlining options was circulated prior to the meeting. It was developed by going through past e-mails on the CU List-Serv and identifying specific projects about state medical boards that were mentioned.  The Co-Chairs highlighted 4 in particular and the group agreed these were of particular interest in the short-term: 


  • Develop “model” or “best practice” state medical board policies/practices/outcomes from the perspective of patients and families.

  • Assess medical board transparency through a review of their websites/Repeat the 2006 Public Citizen/Health Research Group (HRG) review

  • Create an opportunity for periodic information sharing about medical boards amongst a group of interested activists.

  • Collect and disseminate a bibliography about state medical boards.


STATE MEDICAL BOARD WEBSITE PROJECT: The group discussed the project that would replicate/update the 2006 HRG state medical board transparency project (  Al Levine made a contact with the Sarah Lawrence Health Advocacy Graduate program and through that, we were able to secure an intern to work on the project under the supervision of Carol Cronin. Daphne Kanellopoulos begins in February and will be able to work 20 hours/week through late April/mid-May. Daphne introduced herself to the group, noting she had a background in journalism. Lisa McGiffert has checked with Michael Carome at HRG and was told they had no concerns about CU repeating and updating the project. Lisa mentioned that, as in the HRG study, there will be two reviewers for each website and that Suzanne Henry would be the second reviewer. Next steps will be to review the criteria, build an online tool that collects the data from each of 70 state medical and osteopathic board websites, and finalize the methodology and project management with CU staff.  Al noted that he would check in with HRG to see if there was any other documentation about it.


In the discussion, members of the group strongly supported the idea of utilizing the original HRG criteria as it will be useful to track changes since that report. Dave Swankin reviewed how the weighting was done in the 2006 report. This will be examined CU staff.  Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC) has done some relevant surveys of medical boards that they will scan and make available to the group (and we will add to the bibliography). Group members wondered about information on impaired physicians and non-disciplinary actions, but it was noted that this project will focus on what is publicly available through online medical board physician profiles. 


FSMB REPORT:Jean Rexford gave an update on her recent attendance at the Federation of State Medical Board (FSMB) Board of Directors meeting. She noted that FSMB will soon be making information from DocInfo available for free (vs. for $9.95). The online site will include information on physician disciplinary sanctions, education, licensure history and location information nationwide.  A question was asked whether the whole database would be released and Jean didn't think so. Jean noted that all but 6 state medical boards have public members and she as been tasked with organizing and chairing a workgroup meeting of public members at the FSMB annual meeting in April.  She has talked with David Swankin about an effective approach to working with those medical board members. She briefly discussed FSMB top priorities including the Interstate compact for medical licensure and maintenance of licensure/certification.


BEST PRACTICES: Carol Cronin mentioned that she, Patricia Kelmar and Jean Rexford had a preliminary discussion about how to go about a “best practices” approach. Patricia noted one idea to both gather information and engage state advocates by coming up with a small list of things that each advocate could look for in their state medical board. This could be opened up to the broader CU List-Serv.  Another way to go about this work would be to get funding to have one person more systematically assemble this information from all of the states.  It was noted that these approaches are not mutually exclusive. CU did a survey of state medical boards several years ago and Lisa said she could offer advice on what NOT to do. It was noted there is a fair amount of information about what states are doing in the recently published FSMB “Trends and Actions”report (May 2014).  The group seemed to generally like the idea of using state advocates to gather information, though there were various ideas about where to focus the effort, with some interested in the complaint process while others thought that might be too complex.  The idea of identifying three simple things we could find out about state medical boards was suggested as a start.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Carol noted that the bibliography of state medical board reports, articles, websites etc. had been sent.  This should be viewed as a “living” document so any updates are welcome.


GROUP SHARING: The group turned to sharing information including:


CA:Mary Ann O'Sullivan talked about the foundation-funded work that California CU advocates are doing that target the CA Medical Board.  It includes: attending and testifying at medical board hearings, holding meetings with the Executive Director and staff and looking at a more “campaign” style activity. The topics of interest to the group are: transparency about physicians that are on probation; physician-owned out-patient centers; statute of limitation issues, patient complaints and substance abuse issues. One recent victory is that the Board will now allow participation in their meetings by phone. 


NY: Mention was made of the NY Governor's effort to de-fund the Physician Profile in that state's budget.  Art Levin had already left the call, so we didn't get an update, though he and other state advocates are working on it.


NCSL: A discussion about participating in the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) meeting had been raised in advance of the meeting, but conversation about that was deferred due to time. 


WA: Yanling noted her concern in WA about “non-disciplinary remedial plans” for “minor violations” which are not reported to various settings.  It was noted that the TX Nursing Board might be a good resource for her in this area. 


NEXT MEETING:The group decided to meet monthly and choose a regular day to avoid ongoing date searches.  The second Monday of the month at 4:00PM EST was chosen so the next meetings will be:


Mon. 3/9 at 4:00EST

Mon. 4/13 at 4:00EST

Mon. 5/11 at 4:00EST

Mon. 6/8 at 4:00EST