October 29, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Medical boards often take no action against physicians who harm
When you are selecting a physician, you might think that physicians who have committed egregious medical errors in the past would have been "weeded out" from your choices, because they have had their licenses revoked by the state medical board. Unfortunately, this is not the case the majority of the time, according to a recent study by USA Today.
During the study, researchers reviewed data from the National Practitioner Data Bank. This bank contains records of when a physician has been found guilty of medical malpractice
and suspensions from hospitals or private clinics. What the researchers found was appalling.
The researchers found that doctors who have been banned or disciplined by hospital for patient care misconduct often are able to keep their licenses. According to the data, between 2001 and 2011, about 6,000 physicians were put on restricted clinical privileges because of misconduct. Despite this fact, the state medical boards failed to fine or suspend the physician's license in about 52 percent of the cases.
In addition, the study found that state medical boards are lax in punishing physicians who commit the most serious medical errors. According to the data, 250 physicians nationwide who were sanctioned by their hospital as "an immediate threat to health and safety" were allowed to keep their licenses. The same was true for 900 physicians who were labeled as incompetent or negligent
by their health care institution.
Medical boards react
In responding to the results of the study, state medical boards across the nation said that the physician disciplinary process prevents them from taking swift action. In many states, medical boards cannot suspend a physician's license until it has completed an investigation, held hearings and had a trial. Many board representatives claimed that physicians often engage in delay tactics by requesting multiple hearings, which can drag out the disciplinary process for years.
Additionally, many instances of physician malpractice never reach the state medical board's attention. One reason for this is that hospital peer review committees are often occupied by fellow physicians rather than impartial third parties. As a result, many board members tend to cover for one another and do not often report instances of misconduct to the medical board.
Additionally, state medical boards are often left in the dark about cases of physician misconduct because there is no reliable system within the healthcare industry for reporting medical errors to the medical boards. Often, it is the medical malpractice attorneys who bring physician misconduct to the attention of the medical board, as in many cases, the only time a board hears about physician misconduct is after a lawsuit has been filed. If the lawsuit settles, most settlement agreements have a nondisclosure clause that greatly limits the amount of information available to the board, which is often not enough to successfully revoke the physician's license.
Consult an attorney
Unfortunately, there is currently a culture in the medical community that encourages silence and secrecy when it comes to reporting medical errors. As a result, procedures that would improve patient safety are not implemented and incompetent physicians often are able to continue practicing medicine on trusting and unaware patients. Sadly, it is not until legal action is taken that improvements are made, in many cases.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a medical error, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. An attorney can advise you of your situation and work to hold the negligent parties accountable.
Article provided by Vincent D. Morgera, Ltd., & the Law Doctors
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