Doctor discipline records available, but not promoted

Gov. Jay Nixon said this week he wants to strengthen the state board that is responsible for protecting patients from doctors, and ensure that significant complaints about doctors and other medical professionals “are handled in a timely fashion.”

That assurance currently exists, a state official said Thursday.

Missourians can learn about state actions against doctors’ licenses, Travis Ford, spokesman for the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, “as soon as they are signed.”

But the state Board of Registration for the Healing Arts doesn’t publicize the information. It just posts it online, at pr.mo.gov/healingarts-recent-dicipline.asp.

Ford said the online discipline postings began earlier this year.

The comments follow a recent series of stories in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that looked into some patient complaints and noted several doctors whose actions caused legal or licensing trouble — but were able to continue their medical practice or to move it to a different state.

An Associated Press story noted that the number of letters of concern the regulators issued about doctors’ work increased to 910 in 2006, from just 20 letters in 1986.

The Professional Registration division notes it “provides administrative support to 39 professional licensing boards and commissions responsible for licensing and regulating the activities of approximately 400,000 Missourians representing 240 different trades and professions.”

Other professionals may have other disciplinary bodies, like the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel that examines complaints about lawyers, or the Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline of Missouri judges.

None of those agencies issue news releases about disciplinary actions.

State Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, told the AP he wants those letters of concern to be public record, allowing patients to compare doctors’ performance.

The board’s website does not make the letters public.

But a check on Thursday showed an available PDF file reporting “Disciplinary/MiscelIaneous Actions Taken July 2010 to September 2010.”

The file carries a note saying: “Publication of all disciplinary actions by the board is required by law and is available on a quarterly basis. The information contained in this report was accurate at the time of printing. However, for the most up-to-date information, interested persons should contact the board office. Additionally, anyone interested in a complete description of the licensee’s conduct should request that documentation from the board office.”

The file then lists 26 doctors by name and the board’s action and effective date.

It shows that:

• One license (of Charles E. Longmoor, M.D., Euless, Texas) was “revoked with no reapplication for two years and one day.”

• 11 licenses were suspended.

• Six received a “public reprimand.”

• Three were placed on probation (for five, seven and 10 years, with the 10-year suspension carrying a “stipulation that he cannot practice on patients under the age of 21”).

• Two licenses were voluntarily surrendered.

• One license was issued “with censure.”

• And one, of Christine Ann Trueblood, M.D., Kansas City, Mo., carried a lengthy note: “In a decision issued on August 10, 2010, the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission directed that the board’s order issued on May 14, 2009, placing respondent’s license ... to practice medicine and surgery on five years probation, is hereby terminated and said license is hereby free and clear of all restrictions effective August 11, 2010.”

Of the 26 doctors listed, seven were from the St. Louis area, 6 from the Kansas City area, eight from out-of-state and five from out-state Missouri (Rolla, Dixon, Maysville [two doctors] and Poplar Bluff).

None were from Mid-Missouri.

However, a November 2010 issue of the separate publication, “Healing Arts News — A Communication to Missouri’s Physicians” from the Healing Arts board, also carries a listing of “Disciplinary Actions Since Spring 2009 Newsletter.”

It lists 101 people with license actions from March 2, 2009-Aug. 31, 2010, including all but three of the people listed in the online record — whose disciplines were issued in September.

That list includes two Jefferson City doctors who received three-year license probations — Michael P. Dudenhoeffer, DO, on July 13, 2009, and Joseph Rakestraw, DO, on Oct. 13, 2009.

Both had violations that included allowing their staff to dispense prescriptions for controlled substances without a physician being on site.

Ford noted Missourians can check on a specific license regulated by the professional registration division, by going online to renew.pr.mo.gov/licensee-search.asp, and filling in the requested information.

“They can find any discipline information there,” he said.

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