Maine’s Board of Licensure in Medicine has reported a dramatic increase in complaints—up 50% over the past 10 years.

But the trend, according to Randal Manning, executive director of the board, is not due to increased negligence or an increased number of physicians (the number of doctors in the state has remained level).

Rather, the increase is due to outreach programs at hospitals and senior centers, and perhaps more importantly, to the fact that Maine allows complaints to be filed via the Internet.

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The first quarter 2010 complaint numbers are on track to set a new high that Manning estimates could reach 350 complaints by the end of the year, compared with the current high of 224 for last year.

Manning credits the board’s comprehensive website—which provides information on physicians, licenses, and complaints—with making the process easier and more accessible to the public.