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Disciplining Doctors is Left Up to the States


With hundreds of thousands of doctors practicing medicine in the United States, there are going to be some who are either incompetent or otherwise unfit to practice medicine. Of course, it’s left up to state boards and judges to revoke medical licenses to practice in the state. This allows doctors whose licenses have been revoked in one state to move to another where they can once again practice medicine.

In multiple cases, this has allowed severely unfit doctors to retain a livelihood doing something that they have no business doing. This includes doctors who have been convicted of sexually assaulting patients, pediatric surgeons found in possession of child pornography, and doctors who have had inappropriate relationships with their patients. Each of these cases are significant because all of the doctors mentioned in conjunction with sexual misconduct had been flagged in a national database,but none of the hospitals they worked at ever checked their records.

Doctors Licensed to Practice in Multiple States 

In some cases, doctors are licensed to practice in multiple states. When their license is revoked either because of medical incompetence or inappropriate conduct in one, they can still practice medicine in another state. This is because these decisions are made by a patchwork of state medical boards. While a database exists that records this information, it is seldom accessed by those with the power to prevent needless future tragedies.

Last year, USA Today conducted an analysis that showed that there were at least 500 doctors practicing in one state who’d had serious disciplinary actions filed against them in another state. These doctors were practicing with clean records. In these cases, if patients wanted to conduct an investigation of their own, they would not necessarily have access to reports from the other state in which their doctor was sanctioned.

Nonetheless, a National Practitioner Data Bank exists where this information can be found. The data in this database is broadly available to individual organizations but not to patients.

Negligent Hiring 

Is it possible then for a patient to file a lawsuit against a hospital under the theory of negligent hiring as opposed to medical malpractice? In cases where a doctor injures them, at least in Florida, such cases have not been filed. Nonetheless, if a hospital hires or allows a doctor to perform surgeries in their facilities without checking their background information in a widely accessible database, an argument could be made that the hospital has made an egregious error in judgment that inevitably led to a patient injury or death.

The database compiles information that would be incredibly useful to patients. This includes disciplinary actions, criminal convictions, medical malpractice lawsuits, loss of status in a professional society, and loss of privileges at a hospital.

Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice Attorney 

If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Palmer | Lopez can help you recover damages related to that loss. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.


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