Some say medical licensing boards failing to weed out poor physicians

Can you trust your state’s medical licensing board? All too often, doctors get a free pass once they have obtained their medical license.

Sometimes, you get to choose your doctor, but other times a certain doctor is thrust upon you. For instance, when you require emergency care, whichever physician is on call will typically tend to your needs.

But even when you get some degree of meaningful choice in who is providing your care, how much do you really know about any doctor or surgeon? An amiable bedside manner might mask a troubling history of mistakes and malpractice. Patients must rely on state boards of medicine to vet and periodically review physician credentials to ensure that no doctors who routinely display concerning behaviors are permitted to practice medicine. According to a new report, state medical boards are becoming lax in their duties, allowing medical practitioners to keep their licenses even after multiple reports of substandard care.

Few medical licenses revoked over poor performance alone

According to a report from Dr. Sidney Wolfe at the watchdog group Public Citizen, between 1990 and 2009, more than fifty percent of U.S. physicians who had their ability to practice revoked or restricted by a hospital had never so much as been fined by their applicable state medical board. This finding was particularly troubling because Dr. Wolfe said hospitals typically only restrict or revoke privileges of the most dangerous physicians. In one state, of the 25 doctors who had the most medical malpractice payouts, just four had lost their licenses, and of these, three had been charged with drug trafficking or billing fraud.

Once a doctor has been granted a medical license, it is nearly unheard of for it to be revoked solely for providing substandard medical care. This puts patients at risk; you probably would not want to be operated on by a surgeon who has paid out in malpractice settlements multiple times, even if he or she denied wrongdoing. But, without the state department of professional regulation stepping in to suspend or revoke such a surgeon's license, you would probably have no meaningful way to learn of a history of malpractice before undergoing a procedure.

Do you suspect medical malpractice? Talk to a medical malpractice lawyer

You have little choice but to trust that the doctors licensed by the state are living up to the minimum acceptable standard of care. Yet, the unfortunate reality is that many of them are not.

When you have been injured due to negligent medical care, or you have lost a loved one to medical malpractice, you do have legal remedies. While after-the-fact legal action is an imperfect solution and can never undue the pain that you have suffered, receiving fair compensation can help you move along with your life. If you believe you may have been harmed by medical negligence, get in touch with a medical malpractice lawyer today.

Keywords: medical, malpractice, license