Opinion: A suggestion of transparency for Tahoe Forest Hospital District
The May 2016 issue of Consumer Reports (CR) features a cover article focused on the lack of transparency of doctors’ disciplinary actions and misconduct.
My issue, based on my California address, includes an insert with specific references and ratings for California medical groups and hospitals, with links to further data.
While the CR ratings score the Medical Board of California highest in the nation, it makes it clear that information remains difficult to find and interpret. Some of the specific events and evidence are quite disturbing, but you would never find them.
I am in an extended family of physicians and dentists (six in two generations), and hold the professions in high esteem. However, I believe that every consumer (patient and sponsor) should have ready access to this vital information, and I believe that our publicly funded Tahoe Forest Hospital District should assume a proactive role as advocates for transparency for their constituency.
They can, and should, make it easier for patients to learn about their doctors’ disciplinary history.
I would respectfully request that each district board member and appropriate administrators read this CR report, and then discuss as an agenda item in open session at a future board meeting.
I would further suggest that the Hospital Board create, maintain and provide public access to a compendium of criminal convictions, disciplinarian actions, sanctions, misconduct, adverse reports, reported malpractice charges and recorded settlements on each doctor/practitioner practicing within the hospital district.
At the very least, the file should include every provider affiliated with the hospital and other District services. This is public domain information, and similar profiles are available through the State Contractors Licensing Board for plumbers, painters, electricians, etc.
In addition, the hospital should prominently display the patient insurance coverage accepted by every provider operating within the hospital aegis, and proactively inform patients of the identity of every provider before services are begun.
Patients should always have the right of advanced informed consent to accept — or reject — providers, including labs, that do not accept their insurance coverage.
Dr. Jim Ritchie is a retired dentist in Truckee.