Missouri’s doctors are policed by the Board of Healing Arts. And Missouri’s Board is among the most lax in disciplining physicians, according to a recent St. Louis Post Dispatch article, Missouri Secretive, Lax on Doctor Discipline. The Post recounts a story all too familiar to those of us who spend our professional lives prosecuting medical negligence actions: doctors who perform the wrong surgery, who falsify records to cover it up and do so again and again, simply aren’t subject to any meaningful discipline. Suspension of a doctor’s license in Missouri is almost never done, and then usually only when another state’s board has suspended the doctor’s license to practice.
In another article, “Deviant Doctor got OK to Work in Bootheel” the Post describes a truly horrendous situation in which a physician, already on probation for improperly dispensing prescriptions, merely had his probation lengthened after he admitted to the board that he was having improper sexual contact with his patients. It was not until the physician, Martin McDonald, was charged with sexual abuse by Dunklin County prosecutors did the Board take action to suspend his license.
Missouri patients deserve real governmental oversight of all professions, but particularly those whose actions can cause grave harm and death. The process of “disciplining” doctors is long and complicated and allows physicians with known problems to continue to put their patients at risk, with no warning to the patients or the community.