Public Citizen ranks Tennessee 40th in its 2008 ranking of serious doctor disciplinary actions taken by state medical licensing boards.
The Tennessee board took a total of 40 serious disciplinary actions against the 18,137 doctors in Tennessee, or a total of 2.44 actions per 1000 physicians. The total leading states were Alaska (6.54 per 1000) and Kentucky (5.87 per 1000). The two states with the lowest rankings were Minnesota (0.95 per 1000) and South Carolina (1.23 per 1000).
In 2006 Tennessee ranked 29th on the list and in 2007 it ranked 28th.
Let me hasten to add that the number of actions per physician numbers and the annual rankings take into account a compilation of three years of disciplinary actions. Therefore, the 2008 ranking includes disciplinary actions from 2006, 2007, and 2008 while the 2006 ranking include 2004, 2005 and 2006 disciplinary actions. The ranking includes disciplinary actions over a three-year period because "small states do not have many physicians, an increase or decrease of one or two serious actions in a year can have a much greater effect on the rate of discipline in such states (and their ranks) than it would in larger states."
The Public Citizen report also reveals that the nationwide disciplinary rate in 2008—2.92 serious actions per 1000 physicians—is 21.5% lower than the peak rate in 2004 of 3.72 serious actions per 1000 physicians, For example, in 2004 Tennessee ranked 41st in the country, but the disciplinary rate was actually higher – 49 actions against 16.547 physicians.
One final point. Despite the failure of Tennessee to pass caps on damages that can be recovered by patients when they are harmed by the negligence of a health care provider, the number of physicians in Tennessee has increased. In 2004 we had 16,547 physicians. In 2008 we had 18,137, an increase of almost 1600 doctors (about 10%) in four years.
Geez – I thought physicians were leaving the state because the Tennessee General Assembly had not passed damage caps.