New Minnesota Law: More Information about Physician Complaints, Discipline

On Friday, May 4, 2012, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a bill that will require the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice to provide consumers with more information about malpractice judgments and disciplinary actions taken against doctors in other states.  The law also requires the Board to address consumer complaints against doctors more quickly and to resolve or dismiss contested complaints within a year unless it “cannot be reasonably accomplished” within that time.

Previous to this, contested complaints had no specific timeframe requiring resolution or dismissal.  And complaints that were not contested were usually dismissed within 90 days, according to Robert Leach, the board’s executive director.

Some provisions of the law will take effect in 2012, while others will be implemented in 2013 to give the board time to update its website and collect the data that is now required under the new law.

The new law requires posting information about malpractice judgments in litigated court cases; it does not require the board to post information about malpractice settlements, which comprise about 97 percent of malpractice according to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

In 2009, the Federation of State Medical Boards, a national nonprofit organization that promotes public health, safety and welfare through its member Boards, recommended that all state websites include information on previous criminal convictions, malpractice histories and disciplinary actions against doctors by state boards and hospitals.