When we go to the doctor, we expect to receive high-quality medical. If a doctor has been accused of medical malpractice or if they have had their practicing privileges revoked or restricted, we expect to be informed of that. A doctor who has demonstrated an inability to perform to the highest level of care should be punished, and he or she should not be put in a position where it’s possible to harm other patients.
However, recent studies show New York and many other states have failed to discipline rogue doctors. In the past two decades, state medical boards have neglected to punish more than 50 percent of doctors whose hospitals cited them for poor performance.
The director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group said that there are two possible reasons for the lack of action. “Either state medical boards are receiving this disturbing information from hospitals but not acting upon it or, much less likely, they are not receiving the information at all.” She said that regardless of which is happening, it clearly points to problems in the system that needs to be fixed promptly.
The National Practitioner Data Bank exists to prevent “problem practitioners” from moving from one hospital to another. Hospitals are required to report everything that results in a doctor having his or her license revoked, suspended or restricted. Medical malpractice insurance carriers are also required to report settlements against healthcare professionals.
This information should be used by state licensing boards, hospitals and other healthcare organizations. However, it seems that once the information is reported, nothing else happens with it. Even when doctors are thrown off the staff at one hospital, many do not see any ramifications on their practicing license, and the state medical board does not discipline them anymore. This inaction enables doctors to change locations and continue practicing.
Doctors who have made fatal mistakes and have had multiple malpractice suits filed against them are still allowed to practice. Until the state medical boards take more aggressive action against knowingly incompetent doctors, innocent patients everywhere are at risk.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Report: States fail to discipline rogue doctors,” Linda Shrieves, Orlando Sentinel, 15 March 2011