In Louisiana, one doctor had to shell out nine payments that added up to about $2.7 million dollars over the span of fifteen years, from 1992 to 2007. Five times, these payments were settlements for patients who had died. Two of these patients were young girls. This doctor lost some clinical privileges in 2008, but this doctor's license has no restrictions.
One doctor was already in trouble with the Texas Medical Board for abusing controlled substances and given patients dangerous prescriptions. He had been heavily fined and had a restricted license. He was on probation. Yet he was still allowed to continue his practice. While on a restricted license, he prescribed one woman a combination of pain killers and psychiatric medicine that proved to be lethal. Less than a year later, another woman died from a faulty prescription of painkillers. Further investigations found that bad prescriptions were written with appalling regularity. He also permitted nurses to prescribe in his absence, without a proper assessment of patients' conditions. One mother died from such a prescription. He practiced for a full four years on a restricted license, until finally in 2012, this doctor was disallowed from seeing patients.
USA Today found that this is not a problem in just a couple of states. They looked at information from the National Practitioner Data Bank and other records that detail physician licenses, malpractice suits, and penalties on the doctors. While not true in every state, doctors all over the country are still practicing after serious cases of malpractice. Now not every doctor guilty of malpractice should lose his or her license. But the delays that plague investigations are much too frequent, and the sometimes lax restrictions are letting negligent doctors continue to treat patients. Sadly, this issue is not even new. These concerns have been voiced since 1986.
These doctors may be heavily fined, and hospitals may even have to fork out millions of dollars in medical malpractice lawsuits. Still these doctors retain their medical licenses. One reason is that investigations take years to finish. This is due in part to tight budgets that inhibit boards from following through with the law in a timely manner. More problematic, regulators at many of the hospitals themselves are failing to perform their job. These peer review committees are slowing the whole process down.
According to USA Today's discovery, there are almost 250 doctors who were penalized for being an "immediate threat to health and safety". All these doctors still kept their license, however. Of the 900 or so doctors who provided insufficient care, committed negligence, or were incompetent, their medical licenses are still unblemished.
In about the past decade, almost 100,000 currently practicing doctors had to pay a malpractice settlement. Eight hundred of these doctors had to pay $5.2 million on average. Fewer than twenty percent of these physicians had any restrictions on their licenses. Of the more than 6,000 physicians who had been caught committing misconduct, more than 3,000 of these never faced a fine or license restriction of any kind. The statistics continue, painting a disheartening picture.
Of course, most people in this county can expect excellent care from physicians. That being said, tragic cases of malpractice still occur. They should certainly never have happened at the hands of doctors who have already committed gross negligence. If you or a loved one has suffered from the misconduct of a doctor, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out if you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact a Shreveport personal injury lawyer from our firm. We at Simmons, Morris, & Carroll have more than 70 years' of legal experience with which to serve you.