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Gov. Jay Nixon has signed Missouri House Bill 265 which will, hopefully, strengthen the Missouri Board of Healing Arts’ ability to discipline the worst physicians. The new law gives the Board the ability to discipline doctors without going through the state administrative hearing commission, a process that could take 2 years or more.

Another critical feature of the bill is that, for the first time, information that was formerly confidential will be released, such as a doctor’s educational background, speciality certifications, disciplinary record in other states and pending discipline cases. In the past only the doctor’s name, address, license date and previous Missouri discipline was publicly available.

As with anything, by making additional information available to patients, it allows the patients to be better consumers of medical services. As the Post Dispatch reports, this law is supported by patient advocacy groups including the Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project.

The bill was inspired by the 2010 Post-Dispatch Series Who Protects The Patients which ran in December 2010.

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