7 states with most & least medical malpractice disciplinary actions

There is wide variation in how states handle medical malpractice claims, according to a study published in BMJ Quality and Safety.

The significant variation is largely attributable to a lack of standardization between state regulations and procedures for punishing physicians.

According to the study, Delaware, Kentucky and Ohio have the highest adjusted rates for all disciplinary actions. The states with the lowest adjusted rates are Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Being at either end of the spectrum is not a good thing, according to researchers.

"We don't know what the 'right' rate of physician disciplinary action is, but no state should want to be in the extremes," said John A. Harris, MD, senior author of the report. "Patients assume oversight of doctors is well-regulated in all states, that all doctors are held to the same ethical standards and disciplined appropriately when needed. But there's no central governing body, and there's significant variation."

Dr. Harris and his coauthor Elena Byhoff, MD, who are both Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars at the U-M Medical School and the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, said state medical boards "should consider policies aimed at improving standardization and coordination to provide consistent supervision to physicians and ensure public safety."

More articles on medical malpractice:

Top 3 reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits
Study: Hospitalists face acute risk for medical malpractice

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