The N.C. Medical Board, which has often behaved more like a poodle than a Rottweiler, may soon get a new set of teeth to use on bad doctors. For patients, the bill that should pass the N.C. House is an encouraging - though long overdue - development.

Too bad the proposed law doesn't go far enough. Under the bill, hospitals and insurance companies still wouldn't have to tell the public about doctors whose privileges were suspended or who settled malpractice claims. So while the Medical Board, the hospital and the insurer might be fully aware of a physician's problems, patients may be just as uninformed as ever about their doctor's history.

Whatever its deficiencies, however, the bill has wide support in the N.C. General Assembly and the medical community and gives the Medical Board more power to deal with doctors whose personal or professional failings put their patients in danger. It permits the board to make more of its findings public and establishes a wider range of disciplinary options.

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