Should Medical Disciplinary Records Be Shared With The Public?
Do you have a right to know whether or not your doctor injured or killed a previous patient? Right now, a battle is brewing in Congress over whether or not doctors and hospitals should be forced to disclose this information to the public. Democrats are advancing legislation that would make it easier for patients to research their doctors while Republicans argue that it should be left up to the individual states to decide.
Today, there is something called the National Practitioner Data Bank which does keep such records. However, it is sealed to the public. In other words, patients are forced to do their own research without governmental assistance. Essentially, the government refuses to intercede on behalf of patients until a doctor has committed a crime. The database is only accessible to medical boards and hospitals.
What do doctor advocates want?
When it comes to a database of doctor disciplinary actions, they want the matter left up to the states. When it comes to medical malpractice damage caps, they want the federal government to impose a limit capping how much a patient can receive for noneconomic damages. In other words, they are completely focused on protecting doctors above all else.
What do patient advocates want?
Patient advocates want more transparency for patients and more information available to the public. However, they share the concern of doctor advocates that doctors’ reputations can be unfairly harmed by “junk” or baseless lawsuits. Doctor advocates also point out that a doctor can settle a lawsuit without admitting guilt which is why only jury findings count against doctors. The problem for patients is that 97% of medical malpractice lawsuits never see a jury, basically rendering the entire system useless.
What does the AMA want?
The AMA believes the problem is better solved by implementing restrictive statutes of limitations, reducing jury awards by capping damages, and requiring that medical malpractice lawsuits go before a board of doctors to determine their validity. Many states already use some version of these ideas.
Problematically, however, doctors are a corporate group with far more power than patients. This has resulted in their interests tending to be prioritized higher than those of patients. Most doctors will never admit that they made a medical error and thus are under the impression that any lawsuit is frivolous, even after a jury returns a finding of guilt.
However, given the exorbitant cost of prosecuting a medical malpractice case, attorneys are very selective about bringing these types of cases. Should an attorney agree to pursue a claim against a doctor, it is very likely to be a strong, non-frivolous case.
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Palmer | Lopez represents the interests of injured patients in medical malpractice lawsuits. Call our Tampa medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.