Topic: Medical Malpractice

March 21, 2011

More than Half of Negligent Doctors Go Unpunished

New data from the consumer group, Public Citizen, finds that more than half of the time, state medical boards do not discipline doctors who commit some sort of medical malpractice as cited by the hospitals where they work. Public Citizen looked at 10,672 physicians listed in the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) who had their clinical privileges revoked or were facing some sort of licensing action by the state medical boards. Fifty-five percent of them, or 5,887, did not face any licensing action by the state, indicating that the medical board did not receive the disciplinary action information or failing to take action.

The bottom line is that many potentially dangerous doctors who have a history of medical malpractice, are going unchecked and leaving patients unprotected. The information was sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging the office to begin a state medical board investigation.

Of those doctors cited, more than 1,000 were noted to be incompetent, negligent, or committed malpractice, 605 were accused of substandard care, and 220 were cited as a danger to a patient’s health or safety. The violations were considered so striking that the hospitals took away clinical privileges permanently for 3,218 physicians, and 389 lost practicing privileges for more than one year.

Florida’s Dangerous Doctors

Florida is cited in the data for failing to take any disciplinary action against a doctor who had hospital privileges permanently revoked in 2002 and 10 medical malpractice actions between 1992 and 2009. Two patients died, a foreign object was left inside a patient, and another suffered from a misdiagnosis.

Florida was among the top four states for the number of physicians with one or more clinical privilege actions totaling 572, of which 63% faced no state medical board actions. Public Citizen sent the findings to Florida and 31 other states whose medical boards did not take action.

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