According to a 2010 study, more than 225,000 Americans die every year due to medical mistakes. “Medical malpractice is not a myth,” said Syracuse medical mistake lawyer Michael A. Bottar, Esq., of Bottar Law, PLLC. “That being said, most medical negligence is confined to a very small number of physicians. The majority of physicians will practice for 20-30 years without being the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Of course, they won’t say that publicly because it does not help advance tort reform to prevent negligence lawsuits altogether.”
Following the NPR series titled “Doctors Behaving Badly,” our team of medical negligence attorneys formulated the following list of ways that New York could better protect patients seeking medical care in this State:
Number One: Before licensing a physician in New York, the State should communicate with the licensing bodies of other states. There is no reason for New York not to know why a physician lost his or her license in Florida. It should not be up to physicians seeking licensure in New York to interpret and self-report the actions of another state’s administrative agency.
Number Two: Search the National Practitioner Data Bank to determine whether a doctor seeking licensure in New York has a disciplinary history and, if so, the details of the history. According to reports, states seldom query the registry. Why not?
Number Three: Interact with local and state agencies to be in a position to learn about publicly available information, such as when a physician is arrested. It should not be up to physicians to self-report their indiscretions.
Number Four: While much of medicine is an art not a science, there are aspects of medicine that have absolute standards of care. Why not codify the standards and force physicians to follow them or face civil liability?
Number Five: Create a process whereby the worst physicians cannot continue to practice, similar to three-strikes-and-you’re-out. After a specific number of mistakes, or perhaps after a single egregious error, a physician’s license to practice medicine should be in jeopardy. Many successful physicians are not concerned about medical malpractice lawsuits because they can afford to pay insurance premiums and, beyond that, it is almost impossible for them to lose their license.
Number Six: Doctors in need of help, such as rehabilitation or therapy, should have access to necessary services. Inpatient and outpatient treatment should be readily available to ensure that good doctors sidelined by personal issues are not exiled and can return to the field quickly once rehabilitated.
Number Seven: Physician disciplinary histories should be word-searchable and easy to find. It should be easy for patients and boards to find out about a doctor by way of a Google search.
Number Eight: A doctor’s track record should be publicly available forever so that a board and/or potential patient can decide if a transgression in the doctor’s past is something to be concerned with. There is no reason for disciplinary records to be purged after, e.g., 5 or 7 years. A mistake 8 or 9 years ago may be relevant to someone’s decision making process.
Number Nine: If there is too much information to mine and process, then help should be recruited.
Number Ten: Patients should be provided a centralized venue to share their views about a doctor, subject to review by a moderator to prevent abuse. Often, patients have the best information about whether a doctor is a great healthcare provider or otherwise. All doctors to reply to patient comments. The dialogue should make its way into board decision-making.
Continue reading →