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Doctor discipline in Wisconsin

Doctor discipline in Wisconsin

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During heated protests over collective bargaining last year outside the state Capitol in Madison, several doctors wrote sick notes to excuse protesters from school or work. Their action sparked significant debate.

The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board gave some of the doctors reprimands. Critics decried the punishment as a slap on the wrist, but others characterized it as a serious blemish on the doctors' permanent records. Some who argued that a reprimand was too harsh a penalty for writing "fake" sick notes noted that some doctors whose mistakes kill patients get reprimands.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin has long ranked near the bottom among states in rates of serious disciplinary actions against doctors. Among the explanations typically cited: Wisconsin has better doctors than most states do; the medical board doesn't have enough investigators/resources; the board prefers rehabilitation to punishment; the state didn't have a "duty to report" law until recently; the state's "pro-doctor" legal climate results in relatively few malpractice settlement cases going before the board; the legal climate encourages a "plea bargaining" approach to medical board discipline.

What's really behind the low ranking? Can a reprimand be appropriate for writing fake sick notes and killing a patient?

Those are among the questions I want to explore.

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