State medical boards not punishing doctors for malpractice

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

New York residents might be alarmed to learn about the results of a recent USA TODAY investigation revealing that thousands of doctors have been cited for serious misconduct yet are still allowed to keep practicing. Further, some doctors are even banned from practicing at some health care facilities or up being fined thousands of dollars or other penalties, the investigation revealed, yet they still don’t have their licenses rescinded.

Some individuals who have lost loved ones to various preventable medical errors allege that if state medical boards would have done something to stop such practitioners, their loved ones might still be alive. In one such case, a woman sought treatment from a doctor who had been in trouble before for mismanaging patients’ medications. However, the Texas physician was never stripped of his license despite facing multiple sanctions over the span of a decade. After he incorrectly prescribed the woman a cocktail of multiple powerful narcotics and anti-anxiety medication in addition to other pharmaceuticals, she died from unintentional overdose.

Medical boards contend that all investigations into alleged misconduct must be conducted within the frame of the law and that such investigations take time, especially for doctors who have good lawyers representing them. Even though reports of medical misconduct are supposed to be filed with the National Practitioner Data Bank, monitoring these reports can sometimes prove difficult for lack of resources.

People who have received medical care that does not measure up to the standards accepted by the medical community might be able to file medical malpractice claims against substandard practitioners. Medical malpractice attorneys might be able to assist people in seeking compensation for any condition that they obtained or for conditions made worse due to doctor negligence.

Source: USA Today, “Thousands of doctors practicing despite errors, misconduct“, Peter Eisler and Barbara Hansen, August 20, 2013

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