Many doctors who are disciplined for violations, lose their medical license, or are sued for medical malpractice continue to practice medicine by moving to a different state.
Doctors Who Game the System
When doctors receive serious disciplinary actions from state medical boards, they may be banned from practicing medicine in the state where the actions occurred. To continue practicing medicine, many doctors try to cover up their violations, loss of license, or medical malpractice lawsuits by moving to another state.
A joint investigation by MedPage Today and the Journal Sentinel shows at least 500 physicians who were publicly disciplined or barred from practicing by one state medical board, yet continued to practice in a different state with a clean license.
In one 2014 case, a California doctor, Larry Isaacs, received multiple disciplinary actions for medical malpractice. In one incident, he removed a patient’s healthy kidney during colon surgery. In another incident, he removed a woman’s fallopian tube that he thought was her appendix, which had already been removed. Later, during surgery on the same woman, Isaacs allegedly left her intestine disconnected. As a result of egregious medical errors, Isaacs surrendered his California medical license. He then relocated to New York to continue practicing medicine. After New York regulators discovered the California violations, Isaacs was banned from practicing medicine in New York. Isaacs then moved to Ohio, where he continued to treat patients with a clean medical license.
In another 2014 case, Doctor Gary Weiss surrendered his license in Colorado, then moved to Florida. He now has a thriving Florida medical practice with no restrictions, despite seven prior medical malpractice lawsuits against him in two states.
In both cases, investigators worked with TruthMD, which compiles information on doctors by using data from the FDA, state medical boards, and civil and criminal courts. The information shows a list of doctors who have been banned from practicing in one state but hold clean medical licenses in other states. TruthMD has data for about one million doctors dating back 15 years.
Doctors who cause injury or death to patients through medical malpractice commonly lose their medical licenses. When they move to another state and continue to treat patients, they leave a string of injured, disabled, or dead patients who never knew about their previous disciplinary violations, license bans, or medical malpractice lawsuits.