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Doctors on Probation for Gross Misconduct Still Practicing

hospital infectionWould you want to know if your doctor was on disciplinary probation?

When it comes to a physician’s disciplinary history, patients are kept very much in the dark. Physicians all over the country who have been disciplined for sexual misconduct, drug abuse, and devastating medical mistakes are still practicing, some while on probation, and they are not required to disclose their probationary status to their current patients.

Meanwhile, medical errors 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S.

Recently, Senator Jerry Hill of California authored a bill that would require doctors to inform patients of their probationary status. The legislation didn’t pass.

Is your doctor on probation?

Under current laws, doctors are required to disclose their disciplinary history to the hospital or practice where they work, and to their medical malpractice insurer, but are under no obligation to share this information with patients. This leaves a huge hole in patient safety, especially because medical misconduct tends not to be a one-time thing – doctors who have been disciplined for misconduct are 32 times more likely to be sanctioned in the future, compared to physicians who have never had an offense.

Changing this policy would, therefore, likely reduce the frequency of medical malpractice. Armed with more information, many patients would, understandably, elect not to receive treatment from doctors with a history of misconduct.

Unfortunately, most patients never have that choice. While disciplinary information is made available on state medical board websites, it is often difficult to locate, incomplete, and can even require a fee. Consumer Reports rated the medical board websites for every state based on their ease of use and completeness of information. Pennsylvania’s scores a 36 out of 100.

As medical malpractice lawyers, we think that this lack of transparency is outrageous. A patient (already in a vulnerable position when choosing a physician who is covered by their insurance, and who they will trust with their life, or the lives of their loved ones) has the right to informed consent when it comes to their medical care, and informed consent cannot exist when the patient is not informed about the qualifications of their doctor.

Opponents to Sen. Hill’s bill argue that requiring physicians to disclose past mistakes and transgressions to their patients would destroy the trust between doctor and patient, and effectively end some physicians’ careers.

As U.S. News put it, “if patients don’t want to see these doctors anymore, maybe they shouldn’t be practicing anyway.”

If you or a loved one have suffered catastrophic injury or devastating loss due to a physician’s mistake or carelessness, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering. Call our office for a free consultation.

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