The number of U.S. medical schools recommended for probation has tripled during the last 15 years, a national accreditation authority said.

The changes come after the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) created revisions that were more effective in establishing the committee’s national standards in 2002.

There are currently five medical schools on probation with the LCME, including one that took LCME to court after the organization pulled its accreditation in June, as noted in the American Medical News.

The LCME accredits medical education programs in the U.S. and Canadian medical schools and is sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association. The LCME has recently been stricter on schools that have drifted too far from national standards.

"We certainly have more schools on probation now than ever before," LCME Co-Secretary Dan Hunt, MD. told American Medical News. "You can go through years and years [of LCME history] and no schools are on probation."

Medical schools placed on probation must work quickly to defend their reputations and react to LCME’s concerns to avoid losing certification.

The Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association created the LCME in 1942 to monitor medical education. From 1996 to 2000, out of the 108 medical schools that were reviewed, only three schools had been recommended for probation, but from 2004 to 2009 ten of the 107 school reviewed were recommended for probation.

LCME has found through its own analysis that the number of severe actions have more than tripled during the last 15 years, and the number of school facing severe actions has continued to increase, Dr. Hunt said.

In 2002, revisions were made to better establish the committee’s national standards allowing the LCME to better define and reference areas of noncompliance, Hunt said.

"Now it's much easier for survey teams and schools and the LCME to see if there is compliance," said Barbara Barzansky, PhD, MPHE, LCME co-secretary and AMA director of undergraduate medical education, according to American Medical News. "There is a lot more information that is being provided to teams."

Schools recommended for probation can appeal, however if the probation advances, schools must submit an action plan that shows a plan to address the LCME’s findings. Furthermore, because of regulations by the U.S. Department of Education, the schools’ deficiencies must be addressed within a period of two years.