Purpose: We sought to determine the characteristics of disciplined physicians at-large and the risk of disciplinary action over time and to report the type and frequency of complaints and the nature of disciplinary actions against allopathic physicians in Oklahoma.
Methods: Descriptive statistics, Kaplan-Meier analysis, and Cox proportional hazards modeling of publicly available data on physicians licensed by the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision.
Results: Among 14,314 currently or previously licensed physicians, 396 (2.8%) had been disciplined. Using univariate proportional hazards analysis, men (P <0.04), non-whites (P < 0.001), non-board-certified physicians (P < 0.001), and those in family medicine (P < 0.001), psychiatry (P < 0.001), general practice (P < 0.001), obstetrics-gynecology (P < 0.03) and emergency medicine (P < 0.001) were found to be at greater risk of being disciplined than other medical specialty groups. Foreign medical graduates had a higher risk of disciplinary action compared to US medical graduates (P < 0.001), although this finding was not confirmed by multivariate analysis. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that the proportion of physicians disciplined increased with each successive 10-year interval since first licensure. Complaints against physicians originated most often from the general public (66%), other physicians (5%), and staff (4%), and the complaints most frequently involved issues related to quality of care (25%), medication/prescription violations (19%), incompetence (18%), and negligence (17%).
Conclusion: To improve physician behavior and reduce the need for disciplinary action, medical schools and residency training programs must continue to emphasize both patient care and medical professionalism as critical core competencies.