The NC Medical Board voted Wednesday on a final rule to implement the physician and physician assistant profiles on its website. The original proposal was published earlier this year and generated substantial controversy within the physician community. Several changes were approved by the Board.
The Board amended its proposal to limit retroactive application of the profiling rules to October 1, 2007. Previously, the Board had proposed to build profiles using malpractice payments dating back a full seven (7) years. The NCMS and others had requested that the Board not use any historic malpractice payment data to build the profiles. We believe the October 2007 date will still cause hundreds of confidential settlements to be included in the profiles.
The Board also voted to establish a malpractice payment threshold of $25,000. Payments at or below $25,000 would not be published on the profiles. This threshold affects about ten (10) percent of medical malpractice payments. The malpractice insurers and others had requested a much higher nuisance threshold to avoid creating a disincentive to settle malpractice claims. Finally, the Board voted to lengthen the time available to physicians and physician assistants to report changes in profile information from 30 days to 60 days.
The profiling rule, however, was not changed to limit the posting of medical malpractice payments to those cases where the Board found substandard care, which would make the information posted on the website meaningful and relevant to consumers. This is the cornerstone of the NCMS position and was the principal request our members made to the NC Medical Board. At the NCMS Board of Directors meeting this weekend, the Medical Board’s vote will be discussed, and the NCMS Board will decide what further action will be taken.
The NCMS, medical malpractice insurers, defense lawyers and numerous medical specialty organizations offered to meet with the Medical Board prior to the vote to discuss changes to the rule that would clear barriers to implementation and reduce the likelihood of further challenges. The Board declined to have those discussions.