Thousands of doctors across the country, who have been named in medical malpractice lawsuits and have made payments to settle these claims, continue to practice because state medical boards have not bothered to take action against them. That information comes from a stunning new USA Today investigation that focuses on the failure by state medical boards to take action against doctors, who have been found guilty of compromising patient safety.
USA Today, as part of its investigation, conducted an analysis of records from multiple sources, including the National Practitioner Data Bank as well as medical malpractice payment records, and hospital records of disciplinary actions against doctors. The investigation found that in far too many cases, doctors who have been named in medical malpractice claims and have been found guilty of compromising patient safety and exposing patients to harm, continue to be able to practice without so much as a slap on the wrist from their state license board.
According to the investigation, between 2001 and 2011, there were 6,000 doctors who had their practicing privileges revoked by hospitals for all kinds of misconduct involving patient safety. However, approximately 52% of these doctors never faced fines or any kind of license restriction by the state medical board.
This kind of lackadaisical attitude by state medical boards can be seen even in the most severe cases in which patients are seriously harmed. About 250 of the doctors in the investigation were banned from practicing in hospitals which found that these doctors were an immediate threat to patient health and safety. In spite of this, their licenses were not taken away. Nine of the doctors were cited for substandard patient care, incompetence or outright malpractice, and continued to practice without any action by the state license board.
The USA Today investigation also found that in far too many cases, doctors face very minimal disciplinary action after being found guilty of severe misconduct that impacted patient safety. In one particular case in Louisiana, a doctor who made a total of nine payments totaling $ 2.7 million in settlement of medical malpractice claims, continued to practice with an unrestricted license. In another case, a doctor in Florida who paid out $ 1.1 million to settle six medical malpractice claims between 1993 and 2009 retained a clean license without restrictions.
Experts believe the problem is that state health medical license boards are simply not set up to impose restrictions on doctors who has been found guilty of patient negligence. Also, boards depend on reports by hospital peer review committees that are set up to present reports after reviewing complaints against doctors. Often, the reports are biased, and doctors protect their colleagues by watering down their reports.
The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons injured by medical negligence across Indiana.