Medical boards often fail to discipline doctors for malpractice

Physicians are not immune from allegations of malpractice. However, despite this fact, medical boards often fail to take action against doctors in such cases. In many states, due process rights protect physicians, which makes it difficult for medical boards to suspend or revoke a physician's license without first investigating the alleged malpractice. In most cases, these physicians have a right to an administrative hearing, and the medical board can only suspend or revoke their license after they show reasonable cause.

State medical boards have a duty to discipline physicians for malpractice, but in many cases, they simply look the other way. While state medical boards are responsible for disciplining physicians when they are found abusive or incompetent, they often fail to act. Moreover, state medical boards rarely attempt to compensate the victims of medical malpractice. Consequently, medical malpractice law suits are the most effective means of deterring and preventing medical negligence.

Despite this, a study recently revealed that doctors with the worst records of medical malpractice were able to continue practicing medicine. In fact, one study found that the worst-performing doctors had only faced license suspension in one out of every five malpractice cases. In this case, the physician was responsible for a third of all malpractice settlements and verdicts in the country. It is no wonder that many physicians are not disciplined.

Despite these problems, some states have begun to implement new laws aimed at reforming medical boards and improving their ability to address malpractice. The American Medical Association, for example, has proposed a federal board with the authority to change the legal rules surrounding malpractice. The board would also be responsible for limiting the attorney's fees and use guidelines to encourage consistency in damage awards. In the meantime, some states have eliminated physician liability altogether, while others have proposed enterprise liability. Essentially, enterprise liability requires a health care organization to be held accountable for malpractice. This type of malpractice law would allow doctors to minimize costs while expediting the resolution of claims.

Disciplinary action against a physician for malpractice has serious consequences. The punishment for professional misconduct can include loss of license, inability to practice medicine, and even permanent prohibition. Yet, many physicians don't take the consequences of such disciplinary action seriously. They often mistakenly believe that a medical board's decision is nothing more than a slap on the wrist, with no lasting consequences.

While it is a sad fact that Texas' Medical Board fails to take action against dangerous doctors, medical boards often fail to discipline them for malpractice. In Texas, for example, a neurosurgeon who operated on the wrong body part four times and a cardiologist who performed dozens of invasive procedures without cause — and at least seven physicians linked to a death - was not disciplined by the medical board. The failure of the Texas Medical Board to punish these dangerous doctors is a stark reminder of the need for strong regulatory reform.

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