January 21, 2011

State regulators call for tougher laws to regulate doctors

Jefferson City, Mo. - State regulators are seeking laws giving them more authority to crack down on doctors who violate Missouri law. The Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration is proposing legislation this year that would allow the board that oversees doctors to better protect patients and the public.

Key provisions of the proposal will include giving the Board of Registration for the Healing Arts authority to:

  • Immediately suspend the license of a doctor believed to be a danger to patients;
  • Expedite discipline of doctors who commit fraud;
  • Require timely decisions from the state Administrative Hearing Commission, which must approve board discipline of doctors;
  • Greatly improve transparency of information about doctors to the public, including the doctor's education and discipline by other government agencies;
  • Discipline doctors for negligence in patient care, rather than just "gross negligence" as required by current law;
  • Discipline doctors for violating professional trust and confidence with patients - a law most other state licensing boards already have; and
  • Discipline doctors for DWI convictions, being on a sex offender registry or failing to cooperate with board investigations.

"Protecting patients is one of our most important jobs as state regulators," said John M. Huff, director of the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. "We'll work with legislators to build consensus and strengthen these important consumer protections in Missouri."

Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, Senate chair of Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee, looks forward to working with Rep. Ellen Brandom, R-Sikeston, chair of the House Professional Registration Committee, and other members in the General Assembly to pass this legislation this session. "It is critical we move forward to protect the safety and welfare of Missouri patients, especially those vulnerable to doctors overprescribing medications," said Sen. Engler.