Washington State Bill Seeks Consumer Accountability for Medical Licensing Board

Washington state lawmakers have proposed a bill that would give more rights to people who file licensing complaints alleging medical mistakes. Up to now, when something terrible happens to a patient in a hospital or under a doctor's care, families often file complaints with the Medical Quality Assurance Commission (MQAC) - the state's medical disciplinary board - but hear nothing for months or even years, only to finally be told that the official finding is "insufficient evidence" or "no cause for action." Not surprisingly, this leaves many families wondering if the physician and/or hospital have covered up what really happened to the patient.

Last year, nearly 1,400 Washington families filed complaints with the MQAC. Like most state medical boards, the MQAC typically closes most without action - of the 1,400 complaints, 950 were investigated and disciplinary action taken in only 94 cases, says its legal manager, Michael Farrell. Current Washington state law doesn’t require MQAC to divulge evidence during investigations or to detail its reasoning, Farrell says, and for the most part, it doesn’t.

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