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Low public awareness found in online survey about discipline of doctors

More than half of U.S. adults appear to be unaware that state medical boards are in charge of licensing and regulating doctors, according to results of a State Medical Boards Awareness Study conducted by The Harris Poll and released in May.

The survey respondents were more than 2,000 adults who had previously been recruited to participate in surveys. Only 27% knew how to determine whether their physician had been disciplined for misconduct and 51% were unaware of state medical boards’ role.

However, the survey didn’t find that respondents would consider discipline unnecessary. Almost a fifth of those answering the survey said they had experienced a situation in which their physician was acting “unethically, unprofessionally, or providing substandard care.” (Women were twice as likely to report such an experience as men.)

If those patients complained about misconduct, as a minority did, about a third were directed to state medical boards, 31% to the physician’s office, and 25% to a lawyer.