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Health Picture of Health

Board of Physicians to get reorganization advice

The Maryland Board of Physicians is expected to get some advice Wednesday on how to reform itself, eight months after a legislative review found the panel was not working fast or efficiently enough to protect the public from bad doctors.

Dr. Jay Perman, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, was expected to offer his recommendations for overhauling the system of reviewing complaints, which auditors said took far too long to be resolved. The board was also criticized for not having a uniform system of review and lacking transparency, sometimes in violation of open meetings laws.

The board was slated to "sunset" this year and the General Assembly declined to reauthorize the panel, responsible for licensing 43,000 health professionals in addition to issuing disciplinary actions. Instead, lawmakers and the board agreed to Perman's review.

The action comes more than six years after legislative auditors first outlined similar problems and nine years after the board was remade to address lax protections of consumers.

During fiscal 2011, the board handled almost 1,730 complaints, including 739 that continued from the previous year. It closed almost 900 cases by the year's end, leaving more than 800 pending. It took 164 formal actions.

Board members have disputed there is such a level of dysfunction. And in February, they brought on a new executive director, Carole J. Catalfo, a lawyer, from the Maryland State Department of Education.

The state legislature will be able to consider the proposed changes during the 2013 session, according to state health officials.

Meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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