In the context of criminal law, one often hears frustrated complaints about recidivism and the “revolving door” of the justice system.
In a different context – that of medical malpractice – a similar phenomenon may be taking place: a comparatively small number of physicians and other health care personnel may be the subject of multiple malpractice accusations, but nonetheless remain in medical practice.
This is the conclusion drawn by the interest group Public Citizen as well as a national news organization, whose research independent of one another suggests that, in some states, the risk for medical practitioners losing their licenses after being the subject of multiple medical malpractice settlements is not much of a risk at all.
In one state, for example, investigation revealed that, of the 25 physicians who had been involved in the most medical malpractice claims, involving a payout, only four lost their medical licenses.
Part of the problem seems to be that state medical boards often do not take action against physicians who have been accused of providing poor medical care. According to Public Citizen, one indication of the risk of physicians continuing to practice even with lengthy records of medical malpractice is the frequency of actions that state medical boards take. The implication is that the more of such actions one finds, the more likely it is that repeat offender doctors will be disciplined or barred from practice.
If that is the case, then South Carolina medical patients may have something to worry about: Public Citizen ranks the state as one of the four with the fewest number of medical board actions per physician in the country.
Those believing that they have been victims of medical malpractice should always consider consulting with a personal injury law firm to help them assess the potential strength of their claims.
Making a legal claim for medical malpractice against a physician may not prevent that individual from going on to commit other medical mistakes, but at least it can provide for possible compensation for any harm that he or she may have inflicted in that individual case.
Source: CBS news, “Despite multiple malpractice payouts, doctors often keep practicing,” Ben Eisler, Mark Strassmann, Sept. 12, 2014