Medical Malpractice – Careless Doctors Allowed to Continue Practice
August 23, 2013
The research shows:
• Doctors disciplined or banned by hospitals often keep clean licenses: From 2001 to 2011, nearly 6,000 doctors had their clinical privileges restricted or taken away by hospitals and other medical institutions for misconduct involving patient care. But 52% — more than 3,000 doctors — never were fined or hit with a license restriction, suspension or revocation by a state medical board.
• Even the most severe misconduct goes unpunished: Nearly 250 of the doctors sanctioned by health care institutions were cited as an “immediate threat to health and safety,” yet their licenses still were not restricted or taken away. About 900 were cited for substandard care, negligence, incompetence or malpractice — and kept practicing with no licensure action.
• Doctors with the worst malpractice records keep treating patients: Among the nearly 100,000 doctors who made payments to resolve malpractice claims from 2001 to 2011, roughly 800 were responsible for 10% of all the dollars paid and their total payouts averaged about $5.2 million per doctor. Yet fewer than one in five faced any sort of licensure action by their state medical boards.
The numbers raise red flags for several experts in physician oversight, including David Swankin, head of the Citizen Advocacy Center, which works to make state medical boards more effective.”Medical boards are not like health departments that go out to see if a restaurant is clean; they’re totally reactive, because they rely on these mandatory reports — and they’re supposed to act on them,” Swankin says.