A national health industry database covering the 1990s shows five
Oklahoma doctors with 10 or more malpractice payments or
disciplinary actions against them.
One doctor is still practicing with 12 malpractice payments
totaling $435,398 related to surgery he performed between 1988 and
1992, the National Practitioners Data Bank showed.
Another doctor had 10 disciplinary actions between 1990 and 1996,
mostly related to alcohol and drug abuse. That doctor's license was
revoked in 1996, the database shows. No detailed information was
available for the other three doctors.
According to the database, there were 420 adverse license actions
taken against Oklahoma doctors and 862 malpractice payments reported
to federal officials from the state between Sept. 1, 1990, to Dec.
31, 1999. The average malpractice payment was $191,900 and took
place 3.6 years after the incident that caused it, the database
The database shows malpractice payments and disciplinary actions
against more than 145,000 doctors across the country.
One of every seven U.S. doctors and one of every eight dentists
has at least one malpractice payment or disciplinary report in the
National Practitioners Data Bank, which the Department of Health and
Human Services has been compiling since 1990.
Consumer advocates and a key congressional Republican are
pressing to disclose the names to help patients shop for doctors.
Medical experts oppose such a release, fearing the data is skewed by
malpractice insurance settlements.
Details of the payments and actions, including the identities of
the doctors, is provided only to insurance companies, hospitals and
other health care regulators.
U.S. Rep. Tom Bliley, R-Va., wants to make public the names of
doctors on the database with 13 or more actions or malpractice
payments against them.
But the database is intended only as a health industry tracking
device and should not be used to publicize the names of disciplined
doctors, said Dr. Jack Beller, an Oklahoma Medical Association
He said the database is not even necessarily an indicator of bad
"A good many doctors on the database may be the best doctors
because they are willing to take on the very complicated problems,"
said Beller, a Norman orthopedic surgeon.
Beller said the job of releasing the names of disciplined doctors
should be left in the hands of the Oklahoma Medical Licensure Board,
which runs a Web site that lets the public check the discipline
status of individual doctors. …