- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A recent audit found that it sometimes takes years for the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners to discipline doctors who have committed misconduct.

The audit, which was released Monday by the comptroller, reveals that during that time, many doctors continue to practice medicine before they are disciplined, The Tennessean reported (https://tnne.ws/1REufGr).

The report said the slow pace of investigations by the state board subjects patients to “potentially harmful medical practices.”

The audit also discovered that the board hasn’t taken steps to comply with a 1979 state law requiring it to collect information from state courts that would alert it to a physician who has been convicted of a crime.

“Citizens expect state medical boards to protect them against unethical practitioners, though occasionally physicians have committed serious crimes that went undetected for years,” the audit noted.

In its response to the audit, the Board of Medical Examiners noted that it suffered from understaffing in parts of the state and has recently hired 18 new investigators. It also noted that it gives higher priority to allegations of imminent harm to patients than lesser violations.

Michelle Long, assistant commissioner for health and licensure regulation, said the Tennessee Department of Health will examine each of the cases highlighted in the audit.

“The BME (Board of Medical Examiners) and the Office of Investigations take very seriously their responsibility to protect the health and welfare of Tennesseans, and are committed to working more effectively to track and monitor complaints against medical doctors while those complaints are under investigation,” Long said.


Information from: The Tennessean, https://www.tennessean.com

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