Study Finds States Fail to Discipline Doctors for Misconduct

When a person visits the hospital, they trust they will receive quality care for their ailment or illness. Patients also expect they will receive such care from highly trained medical professionals who do not have a history of negligence. Unfortunately, however, that trust is often misplaced.

Recently, the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen analyzed years 1990 to 2009 of the National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File, and determined that 10,672 physicians nationwide had one or more restrictions or revocations of their clinical privileges. Over half of these physicians, 5,887, did not have state licensing actions taken against them. The violations made by these physicians that resulted in clinical privileging actions include the following:

  • 1,119 physicians were disciplined due to incompetence, negligence, or malpractice;
  • 605 physicians were disciplined due to giving substandard care to patients;
  • 220 physicians were disciplined because it was found they were an “immediate threat to health or safety;”

Other violations included sexual misconduct; fraud; narcotics use; and an inability to practice safely.

According to the study, 2,071 physicians (of the 5,887) had one or more of the above violations and had received clinical privilege actions but no actions taken against them from the state medical board. Of the 5,887 physicians, 3,218 permanently lost their clinical privileges, with an additional 389 physicians losing their privileges for over a year This means 2,280 physicians, about 40 percent of those with clinical privilege actions but did not have disciplinary action taken by the state, were not penalized for their negligent actions.

In Pennsylvania, the study found that 70 to 77 percent of physicians had one or more clinical privilege actions but no actions were taken against them by the state licensure. Additionally, 23 physicians in the state had at least 10 payments due to medical malpractice and had at least one clinical privilege action but did not have actions taken by the state licensure.

This study raises serious questions about whether Pennsylvania patients are receiving quality care from their physicians. When a patient suffers injury or their medical condition worsens due to a physician or other healthcare provider’s negligence, they may be left wondering what can be done to prevent the medical professional from acting negligently again. At Anapol Weiss, our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers can help you understand the legal options available to you while building a strong case on your behalf to ensure you receive fair and just compensation for your suffering. To learn how we can help, call 866-735-2792.

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