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When Unfit Doctors Are Allowed to Practice Medicine

Written by Ankin Law Office

We trust doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers with our health and our lives. Because so much is much is at stake when a doctor performs his or her job, doctors are required to undergo extensive education, training, and credentialing, and state medical boards are responsible for ensuring that unfit doctors are not allowed to practice medicine.

Unfortunately, many doctors slip through the cracks – and patients’ are injured or die as a result. In fact, according to a USA Today investigative report, thousands of doctors who have been banned by hospitals or other medical facilities are not punished by the applicable state medical boards and they continue to practice medicine.

The USA Today investigation discussed the death of Jennifer Chaney, who died while under the care of Dr. Greggory Phillips, a Texas doctor who had previously faced a number of sanctions for mismanaging medications and for abusing drugs himself, and nearly a year earlier one of his patients had died from a toxic mix of pain and psychiatric medicine that he had prescribed. Despite the numerous sanctions and multiple patient deaths, it still took four more years of investigation and negotiations before the Texas Medical Board finally barred Phillips from practicing medicine.

The devastating cases involving Dr. Phillips are not the only ones, unfortunately. In fact, the USA Today research shows the follow staggering results:

  • From 2001 to 2011, nearly 6,000 doctors had their clinical privileges restricted or taken away by hospitals and other medical institutions for misconduct involving patient care, but 52% of those doctors were not fined or and did not incur a license restriction, suspension, or revocation by a state medical board.
  • Nearly 250 of the doctors sanctioned by health care institutions were cited as an “immediate threat to health and safety,” yet their licenses still were not restricted or taken away. About 900 were cited for substandard care, negligence, incompetence or malpractice, but kept practicing with no licensure action.
  • The doctors with the worst malpractice records often keep treating patient. Among the nearly 100,000 doctors who made payments to resolve malpractice claims from 2001 to 2011, roughly 800 were responsible for 10% of all the dollars paid and their total payouts averaged about $5.2 million per doctor. Yet fewer than one in five faced any sort of licensure action by their state medical boards.

Patient advocates suggest that the information supports the case for enhanced physician oversight by state medical boards. Last year, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and a bipartisan group of senators asked the Inspector General for a “comprehensive evaluation” of state medical boards’ performance. Unfortunately, there has been no report, and the 2013 work plan does not indicate that one will be provided.

The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC are dedicated to protecting patient rights through enhanced physician oversight by state medical boards, as well as holding doctors and hospitals financially responsible for their medical mistakes. If you or a loved one was the victim of substandard medical care or medical malpractice, we will fight to get you a full and fair financial compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, household services, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and disfigurement.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Chicago medical malpractice attorneys.

Categories: Medical Malpractice