A New York medical malpractice lawyer knows that the consequences of a medical mistake can be absolutely devastating for a victim and his or her family members. More than 200,000 people die each year due to preventable medical error according to most estimates, and this number may actually be higher. Preventing medical mistakes is essential, but unfortunately regulators and authorities may not be doing nearly enough to keep dangerous doctors from continuing to provide care to patients.
Many people who seek treatment or who are admitted to a hospital think that their doctor is qualified because the physician must be licensed and certified. Unfortunately, state boards responsible for the certification and licensing of doctors are not necessarily taking disciplinary action after a physician has been accused of making even serious mistakes. As a result, unqualified doctors who have repeatedly harmed patients may continue to provide care and it may be difficult or impossible for patients to find out if their doctor has a history of malpractice.
Does Your Doctor have a History of Medical Mistakes?
A recent CBS News story discussed the problem of improper and insufficient disciplinary action in the medical world. The lack of effective oversight can have real and devastating consequences. For example, CBS told the story of a 42-year-old woman who had emergency surgery for appendicitis. The woman had dangerously low blood pressure after the surgery, but no lab testing or imaging studies were ordered to identify what the problem was. Tragically, the woman bled to death in her bed, leaving behind a husband and small children.
The victim's husband was himself a physician, as was the woman who died in the hospital. The husband sued the surgeon who had provided treatment and who the husband believed was responsible for causing the death due to a failure to follow up on the problems leading to the critical blood pressure levels.
The case was settled for the maximum amount that the insurance policy was willing to pay out, which was $250,000. Although this was the most compensation that could be provided, the surgeon in this case still denied wrongdoing and did not accept responsibility.
The surgeon was likely familiar with the process of resolving malpractice suits without apologizing to patients, since it subsequently turned out that he had 11 prior malpractice lawsuits brought against him since the year 2000. He was actually tied with another physician within the state for having the most medical malpractice payouts of any practicing doctor. Despite the many past claims against him, the state Board of Medicine had taken no action to impose restrictions on his license.
A careful review of records showed that of the 25 doctors with the highest number of malpractice payouts revealed that the Board's failure to act was not an isolated incident. Only four doctors with the most malpractice claims had lost their license to practice medicine. In three of the four cases, the action was taken only after arrests for drug trafficking or billing fraud. None of the doctors had actually been prevented from practicing because of the medical errors or malpractice cases.
This particular tragedy happened in Florida, but other state boards also fail to do their jobs and protect patients. Between 1990 and 2009, more than half of doctors within the United States who have had their privileges revoked or restricted by hospitals did not have any action taken against them by a state medical board.
Obviously, these boards are allowing dangerous doctors to keep practicing at tremendous cost to patients.
For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 or visit http://www.jcreiterlaw.comand schedule a free consultation today.