The number of disciplinary complaints against physicians has decreased sharply

Contrary to what doctors may say, the number of disciplinary cases against doctors is not increasing. The number of doctors who have had to stand trial in a disciplinary court has fallen dramatically each year since 2017.

This is evidenced by a comparison of the annual reports of the disciplinary tribunals for the past ten years by Medisch Contact. The number of complaints about doctors handled by regional disciplinary courts has more than halved since 2017, from 1,344 to 579 in 2022. The number of appeals to the Central Disciplinary Court regarding doctors has halved since 2018, from 443 to 221.

Not only have the number of disciplinary cases involving physicians, but also the number of disciplinary cases involving carers registered with BIG have decreased significantly since 2017. The number of complaints that regional disciplinary tribunals have received, but not dealt with (yet), has also decreased since Since then it has dropped sharply: from 1,780 to 979 in 2022.

According to the Healthcare Disciplinary Tribunals, it is conjecture as to why the downward trend. ‘This could be affected by the fact that, since April 2019, people can turn to Disciplinary Complaints Officers with questions and complaints, and they operate independently of the Disciplinary Tribunals,’ explains a spokesperson for the Disciplinary Tribunals. They give advice on whether disciplinary action is the right way to complain, but they also help with complaint formulation, for example. The number of questions and reports they received increased. But it is not known whether or not this will eventually lead to a disciplinary complaint. What may also have an impact is that since April 2019, the complainants have to pay €50 in court fees. And that more complaints are being received by the Wkkgz dispute settlement bodies. But it’s hard to say, because we don’t have any confirmed data on this matter.

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It is remarkable that, in both absolute and relative terms, disciplinary tribunals receive more complaints pertaining to physicians each year than other professionals registered in the BIG group. Only mental health psychologists and psychotherapists are – in a relative sense – an exception to this. It’s no one’s guess why there are fewer complaints about other BIG-registered caregivers. A spokesperson for the Disciplinary Tribunals says: ‘No investigation was carried out.

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