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Survey shows people don’t report physician misconduct

OLYMPIA, WA (May 31, 2019) – The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) released national survey results that measured the prevalence of physician misconduct and public awareness regarding state medical boards. The Washington Medical Commission (WMC) is concurrently conducting its own survey to gain a state level insight. The WMC survey is not complete but preliminary results parallel the FSMB results.

Want to weigh-in on the WMC survey? Click here:

Some important findings of the survey show, “nearly one in five Americans have had an interaction with a physician who they believe was acting unethically, unprofessionally, or providing substandard care,” but only one-third of those (people) reported it. And among that reduced number, only 34% filed a complaint to a state medical board or commission.

If a doctor is acting unethically, unprofessionally, or providing substandard care the WMC is the organization to contact. Anyone can file a complaint – including health care staff, family members and patients themselves. And, it is possible to file a complaint online.

FSMB also found that, “less than 3 in 10 Americans (27%) say they know how to find out if a physician has ever received a disciplinary action against their medical license,” and “51% of Americans do not know that state medical boards are responsible for the licensing and regulating of physicians.”

Protecting the public by ensuring quality healthcare is provided by physicians and physician assistants is WMC’s mission. There are two easy ways to discover if your doctor has had a disciplinary action: visit or the state Provider Credential Search.

Other Key Findings from FSMB:

  • Women are twice as likely as men to have experienced physician misconduct.
  • Among those who have experienced physician misconduct, only one third reported the interaction or filed a complaint against the physician
  • Of those who did file a complaint or report the physician, only about one third notified the state medical board – the entity responsible for licensing and disciplining physicians 


Contact: Stephanie McManus
Office: (360) 236-2774