When a student breaks the rules, it goes on his or her permanent record. When a citizen violates the law, that goes on his or her criminal record. But when a doctor gets in trouble, well…It’s 50/50.

State medical boards are supposed to discipline doctors who have had their clinical privileges revoked or restricted by the hospitals where they work. This protects patients by creating a more complete record of doctors’ lapses as well as alerting future employers and other state boards. However, the nonprofit Public Citizen has found, based on data from the National Practitioner Data Bank, that state medical boards haven’t disciplined more than half of physicians who were penalized by their hospitals. 

These physicians didn’t just slip up: To be penalized, they had to have a serious infraction. Indeed, Public Citizen reports that of the 5,887 doctors whom state medical boards failed to discipline, 1,119 were penalized by their hospitals for incompetence, negligence or malpractice; 605 due to substandard care; and 220 because they were identified as an immediate threat to health or safety. The remaining 2,071 doctors were disciplined for the most serious offenses, including sexual misconduct, insurance fraud, and narcotics violations.

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not conducted regular investigations of state medical boards since 1993. Clearly, the system for safeguarding patients from dangerous physicians is broken. Have you been harmed by a doctor’s negligence? Contact Hodes Milman for a free case evaluation. We’re aggressive personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers based in Orange County, serving all of California. We have the experience to take on the medical industry and have achieved multi-million dollar verdicts for our clients.

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