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South Carolina's medical board ranks last in discipline rankings

In an annual ranking of disciplinary actions taken by state medical boards against doctors compiled by the advocacy group Public Citizen, the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners has been ranked in one of the bottom two spots for the past 8 years. The state's position began to fall in the Public Citizen rankings starting in 2001, when it was ranked no. 47, after being in the top 20 for much of the 1990s.

According to state records from fiscal years 2004 to 2012, the Board of Medical Examiners investigated over 3000 doctors during this period. Records show that only 16 doctors had their licenses revoked while another 68 doctors had their licenses suspended. While the rankings aren't an indicator of the quality of medical care that patients receive, they do reflect the fact that medical malpractice isn't being addressed as effectively in South Carolina as they are being addressed in other states.

Some of the offenses that have caused doctors to be brought before the Board of Medical Examiners without losing their license include improper relationships with patients, drug abuse, and errors in surgery and sedation. Doctors can even avoid serving suspensions by accepting license limits and paying a fine. A spokesman for the S.C. Medical Association disagrees with the criteria used in the rankings and maintains that South Carolina has an excellent screening process for medical license applicants. This helps to weed out questionable doctors at the beginning of the process.

Individuals who feel that they have been negatively impacted as a result of a doctor's mistake often are unsure about their rights under the law. Attorneys working in the area of medical malpractice may be able to educate these patients about the options available to them to seek compensation.

Source: Charleston Regional Business Journal, "S.C. ranks last for disciplinary actions in medical profession", Matt Tomsic, August 06, 2013

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