If you’re a reader of the Credentialing Resource Center Connection email newsletter, then you know about the case of a doctor with a checkered past who was finally caught by authorities. His case raises a question similar to the ones raised by the famous Kadlec and Swango cases: Does fear of disclosing too much information and risking a lawsuit cause medical staffs to disclose too little information, thus risking the safety of future patients?
Despite being fired from three hospitals, Michael Roy Sharpe, MD, was never disciplined by a state medical board. He worked in a series of hospitals in Tennessee and Alabama, until recently when accusations of having sex with a 15 year-old patient led him to voluntarily give up his medical license, according to an October 12 Tennessean.com article.
Now, he’s been officially charged with raping that patient, and five more young people have given statements about alleged misconduct, too, according to an October 23 Times-Gazette article.
Citing confidentiality rules, Tennessee health officials declined to comment on any investigations they may have conducted about Sharpe. However, Alabama medical licensing officials said Sharpe’s hospital firings weren’t listed in a federal physician databank (newspaper reports didn’t specify which databank).
It’s a scenario that happens when medical staffs don’t carry out a thorough disciplinary process, Ilene Corina, founder of PULSE New York, a patient advocacy group, told the Tennessean.com. “It is too much trouble to go through the discipline process and I am pretty sure that like in many jobs, [doctors] are asked to resign quietly and give up their license, giving them the opportunity to get licensed in another state,” she was quoted in the article as saying.
As an MSP, what’s your reaction to cases like these? Do you think that the public can’t pass judgment on the non-disclosures of Sharpe’s previous employers because there might not have been enough evidence for the hospital to act? Do you think the NPDB reporting rules should be changed so that hospitals can submit more information on behaviors that raise red flags?
Share your thoughts in the comment boxes below.