§ 5-37-9.2. Physician profiles Public access to data.
(a)(1) The board shall compile the information listed in this section to create individual profiles on licensed physicians, in a format created by the board, consistent with the provisions of this section and § 23-1-1.4 and any regulations promulgated under these sections, that are available for dissemination to the public and which include a conspicuous statement that "This profile contains certain information which may be used as a starting point in evaluating the physician. This profile should not be your sole basis for selecting a physician".
(2) The following information shall be compiled by the board in accordance with state laws and board regulations and procedures and shall be included in physician profiles, subject to the limitations and requirements set forth below:
(i) Names of medical schools and dates of graduation;
(ii) Graduate medical education;
(iii) A description of any final board disciplinary actions within the most recent ten (10) years;
(iv) A description of any final disciplinary actions by licensing boards in other states within the most recent ten (10) years;
(v) A description of any criminal convictions for felonies within the most recent ten (10) years. For the purposes of this subsection, a person is deemed to be convicted of a crime if he or she pleaded guilty or if he or she was found or adjudged guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, or was convicted of a felony by the entry of a plea of nolo contendere.
(vi) A description of revocation or restriction of hospital privileges for reasons related to competence taken by the hospital's governing body or any other official of the hospital after procedural due process has been afforded, or the resignation from or nonrenewal of medical staff membership or the restriction of privileges at a hospital. Only cases, which have occurred within the most recent ten (10) years, shall be disclosed by the board to the public.
(vii) All medical malpractice court judgments and all medical malpractice arbitration awards in which a payment is awarded to a complaining party since September 1, 1988, or during the most recent ten (10) years, and all settlements of medical malpractice claims in which a payment is made to a complaining party since September 1, 1988, or within the most recent ten (10) years. Dispositions of paid claims shall be reported in a minimum of three (3) graduated categories indicating the level of significance of the award or settlement. Information concerning paid medical malpractice claims shall be put in context by comparing an individual physician's medical malpractice judgments, awards and settlements to the experience of other physicians licensed in Rhode Island who perform procedures and treat patients with a similar degree of risk. All judgment, award, and settlement information reported shall be limited to amounts actually paid by or on behalf of the physician.
(3) Comparisons of malpractice payment data shall be accompanied by:
(i) An explanation of the fact that physicians treating certain patients and performing certain procedures are more likely to be the subject of litigation than others and that the comparison given is for physicians who perform procedures and treat patients with a similar degree of risk;
(ii) A statement that the report reflects data since September 1, 1988, or for the last ten (10) years and the recipient should take into account the number of years the physician has been in practice when considering the data;
(iii) An explanation that an incident, giving rise to a malpractice claim, may have occurred years before any payment was made due to the time lawsuits take to move through the legal system;
(iv) An explanation of the effect of treating high-risk patients on a physician's malpractice history; and
(v) An explanation that malpractice cases may be settled for reasons other than liability and that settlements are sometimes made by the insurer without the physician's consent.
(4) Information concerning all settlements shall be accompanied by the following statement: "Settlement of a claim may occur for a variety of reasons which do not necessarily reflect negatively on the professional competence or conduct of the physician. A payment in settlement of a medical malpractice action or claim should not be construed as creating a presumption that medical malpractice has occurred." Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or prevent the board from providing further explanatory information regarding the significance of categories in which settlements are reported.
(5) Pending malpractice claims and actual amounts paid by or on behalf of a physician in connection with a malpractice judgment, award, or settlement shall not be disclosed by the board to the public. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the board from investigating and disciplining a licensee on the basis of medical malpractice claims that are pending.
(6) The following information shall be reported to the board by the physician and shall be included in physician profiles, subject to the limitations and requirements specified in this subdivision:
(i) Specialty board certification;
(ii) Number of years in practice;
(iii) Names of the hospitals where the physician has privileges;
(iv) Appointments to medical school faculties and indication as to whether a physician has a responsibility for graduate medical education within the most recent ten (10) years;
(v) Information regarding publications in peer-reviewed medical literature within the most recent ten (10) years;
(vi) Information regarding professional or community service activities and awards;
(vii) The location of the physician's primary practice setting;
(viii) The identification of any language translating services that may be available at the physician's primary practice location; provided, that a statement is included in the profile indicating that these services may be temporary and that the physician's office should first be contacted to confirm the present availability of language translation.
(b) A physician may elect to have his or her profile omit certain information provided pursuant to paragraphs (a)(6)(iv) (vi) of this section, concerning academic appointments and teaching responsibilities, publication in peer-reviewed journals, and professional and community service awards. In collecting information for these profiles and disseminating it, the board shall inform physicians that they may choose not to provide any information required pursuant to paragraphs (a)(6)(iv) (vi) of this section.
(c)(1) The board shall provide individual physicians with a copy of their profiles prior to initial release to the public and each time a physician's profile is modified or amended based on information not personally supplied to the board by the physician or not generated by the board itself.
(2) Prior to initial release to the public and upon each modification or amendment requiring physician review as provided in this subsection, a physician shall be provided not less than twenty-one (21) calendar days to correct factual inaccuracies that appear in his or her profile.
(3) If a dispute arises between a physician and the board regarding the accuracy of factual information in the physician's profile, the physician shall notify the board, in writing, of this dispute.
(4) If a physician does not notify the board of a dispute during the twenty-one (21) day review period, the profile shall be released to the public and the physician will be deemed to have approved the profile and all information contained in the profile.
(5) If a physician notifies the board of a dispute in accordance with this subsection, the physician's profile shall be released to the public without the disputed information, but with a statement to the effect that information in the identified category is currently the subject of a dispute and is not available at this time.
(6) Within ten (10) calendar days after the board's receipt of notice of a dispute, the physician and the board or its authorized representative shall in good faith enter into discussions, which may continue for up to thirty (30) days, to resolve the dispute. If the dispute is not resolved within thirty (30) days, the disputed information shall be included in the profile with a statement that this information is disputed by the physician.
(d) Each profile shall contain a statement specifying the date of its last modification, amendment, or update. If a physician has reviewed and approved or been deemed to have approved his or her profile in accordance with this subsection, the physician is responsible for the accuracy of the information contained in it. If a profile is released to the public without physician review as required by this subsection, then notwithstanding any immunity from liability granted by § 5-37-1.5 or 23-1-32, the board or any state agency supplying physician information to the board is solely responsible for the accuracy of the information it generates or supplies and which is contained in physician profiles released to the public.
(e) In order to protect against the unauthorized use or disclosure of provider profiles by department of health employees with access to the data, the department of health shall apply its existing safeguards and procedures for protecting confidential information to physician profile information.
(f) For each profile provided to the public by the board, the board may charge no more than fifty cents ($.50) per page or three dollars ($3.00) per profile, whichever is greater.
(P.L. 1997, ch. 348, § 3.)