BY HAWAII REPORTER

An analysis done by a consumer advocacy group shows Hawaii failed to discipline 77 percent of doctors who either lost their clinical privileges or had them restricted by hospitals.

Public Citizen looked at the National Practitioner Data Bank to determine how many doctors nationwide had “license actions” taken against them by state medical boards after having revocations or restrictions placed on their clinical privileges.

Nationally, 55 percent of physicians escaped licensing action by the state. The group looked at data from 1990 to 2009 for its analysis.

“One of two things is happening, and either is alarming,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group and overseer of the study. “Either state medical boards are receiving this disturbing information from hospitals but not acting upon it, or much less likely, they are not receiving the information at all. Something is broken and needs to be fixed.”

Hawaii was one of the top states in terms of not taking action – of the 48 doctors who had privileges revoked or restricted, 37 had not licensure actions, according to the group’s data.

Public Citizen said hospital disciplinary reports are peer-review actions and, as such, are one of the most valuable sources of information for medical board oversight. It said subsequent state medical board action against a physician’s license is a crucial next step to protect patients.

The group noted a lack of action by medical boards can have serious consequences, such as the case of a Florida doctor who had hospital privileges revoked in 2002 and had a history of malpractice that led to two patients dying.

UH Law School Drops in U.S. News & World Report Rankings

The University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law dropped 23 places to No. 95 in the latest ranking of graduate schools by U.S. News & World Report. The law school ranked highly in terms of its part-time program, coming in at No. 26.

The magazine’s rankings also ranked UH’s John A. Burns School of Medicine 58th best for primary care, 13 in the country for Geriatric medicine and 87th best for research, while the university’s Shidler College of Business came in at No. 107 of 437 MBA programs it analyzed.

UH’s College of Education jumped to 35th place from 50th last year.

Other UH rankings from the magazine’s annual review of graduate programs:

College of Engineering: 138

The College of Arts and Humanities:  119 in Fine Arts

The School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene: 99

Department of Psychology: 103

Department of Counselor Education : 62 in Rehabilitation Counseling.

The School of Social Work: 60

The Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology: 175.

The Department of Mathematics: No. 119.

Department of Geology and Geophysics: No. 34

Department of Physics: No. 93

Department of Chemistry: 140

Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program: 115

Library and Information Science Program: 29

Public Administration Program: 148 in Public Affairs.

Department of English: 94

Department of History: 92

Honolulu one of Strongest Cities for Recovery

Honolulu ranked in the top tier of 100 cities in terms of the strength of its economic recovery, according to the Brookings Institution’s MetroMonitor for the 2010 fourth quarter.

The think tank noted Honolulu was among the 20 top performing cities in its survey, with it having one of the best unemployment rates of the metropolitan areas studied.

Researchers noted Honolulu also has regained jobs at a faster rate than many cities and was only one of two markets (along with San Jose, California) where housing prices rose. On the downside, Honolulu’s foreclosure rate rose during the October-to-December period.

The report also noted Honolulu was one of 14 capital cities where state government worker ranks had fallen.

Senate Bill to establish Volcano Early Warning Program reintroduced

Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has reintroduced the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring Program Act, S. 566 that would establish a national volcano monitoring system that includes the Hawaii.

“I introduced volcano monitoring legislation in 2009, as a result of the Mt. Redoubt volcano eruptions.  While it brought awareness to the issue, the legislation did not become law, so I am reintroducing the bill this Congress,” Murkowski said. “Volcanic eruptions are a constant threat in Alaska and can have dramatic impacts on the economy, as last year’s eruption in Iceland reminded us yet again.”

The U.S. Geological Survey and its university and state partners operate five volcanic observatories, including one in Alaska. The other four are in Vancouver, Washington; Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park; Yellowstone National Park and Mammoth Lakes and Menlo Park, California.

Murkowski’s legislation would establish a National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System within the USGS to monitor, warn and protect citizens from undue and avoidable harm from volcanic activity.

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