In Missouri, five people have the power to decide if a doctor is mentally and emotionally fit to practice medicine, to operate on patients, to write prescriptions.
These five gatekeepers can give the go-ahead for doctors to rehang their shingles and treat the sick — including doctors with documented histories of prescription drug addiction, alcoholism and felony records.
Last month, they did just that. The Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts reinstated the licenses of two doctors — one in St. Louis and another in the northeastern part of the state — who have backgrounds that include felony convictions and addictions.
Nine members are supposed to sit on the state board: eight doctors and one member of the public. But four slots sit vacant, yet another example of former Gov. Jay Nixon failing to make appointments to boards and commissions.
Fully staffing the board is on Gov. Eric Greitens’ to-do list.
But the Greitens administration has other concerns about this pared-down version of the board of registration.
Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, is leading an analysis of the board’s previous decisions. So far, they’ve determined that Missouri has been disciplining at lower rates than nearby states, possibly a red-flag signaling lax oversight.