Madden says committee will compile more data on physician disciplinary system

Sen. Fred Madden, (D-4), Gloucester, said Monday’s hearing into how New Jersey disciplines problem physicians left many questions unanswered.

As a result, he said Tuesday that the Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee will compile more information before deciding on how to proceed in the wake of a nonpartisan national report that said New Jersey does not properly follow up on complaints against doctors.

“When you look at the raw numbers, sometime these issues are moving, and there needs to be consistency in data collection methods,” said Madden.

The committee members heard testimony from Dr. Sidney Wolfe, whose report for Public Citizen stated, among other things, that from Sept . 1, 1990, to the end of 2009, N.J. hospitals took disciplinary actions against 320 physicians logged in the National Practitioner Data Bank, yet 57 percent of them – 183 – never had any further state medical board disciplinary action.

Such data raised many questions, according to Madden, including how does New Jersey compare with other states, did some of these physicians retire, and whether 183 cases over a nearly 20-year period is necessarily a bad number when compared to other states.

“I’d like to know more about why these individuals were not disciplined,” Madden said.  After the committee compiles more information, he said that members will meet in caucus and decide how to proceed.

Among other things, Wolfe had testified that of the 183 cases that the Board of Medical Examiners did not act upon, 97 of them were cases in which a hospital considered the problems serious enough that admitting privileges were revoked permanently or for at least one year.

Madden says committee will compile more data on physician disciplinary system