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Head of State Medical Examining Board says panel lacks resources to revoke licenses

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The head of the state board that disciplines Wisconsin doctors says his panel does not have the money or the resources to revoke or strongly suspend medical licenses.

Sheldon Wasserman of the State Medical Examining Board made the remark, after the Wisconsin State Journal found that over half of 218 doctors disciplined got just reprimands. And at least 50 of the reprimands were for cases in which patients died or were harmed. The figures are from the last three years.

Examining Board officials have long contended that their main goal is to rehabilitate doctors instead of punishing them. Wasserman says that’s still true. And he says the board is held back from stricter punishment by limited funds, and sometimes limited authority.

The Public Citizen watchdog group notes that Wisconsin has long been near the bottom in doctor discipline. The group rates the Badger State 46th over the past 3 years, up from 49th.

Doctor Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen calls reprimands “slaps on the wrist.” He says they have no effect on a doctor’s practice.

But former Examining Board chairman Gene Musser disagrees. He says all of Wisconsin’s doctors are informed about reprimands, and prospective employers and the public can find out about them, too. He says the reprimanding process, “really wakes them up.” 

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