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Thousands of Doctors Escape Medical Board Discipline Despite Complaints and Malpractice Suits

USA Today published a stunning report that reveals that, across the country, there are thousands of doctors who are forbidden to practice in hospitals or other medical establishments, yet have not received any kind of punishment from state medical boards. Those doctors, despite having settled multiple medical malpractice suits, still maintain their medical license.

The publication collected data and statistics from multiple sources, including the National Practitioner Data Bank. The law mandates that any “adverse action” filed against a physician must be reported to the data bank – the intention being that the data bank would be closely watched by the state boards. Other sources of information were hospital disciplinary records and malpractice payment records.

The investigation revealed that almost 6,000 physicians had clinical privileges revoked between the years 2001 and 2011. But astonishingly, more than half of these same doctors never received any kind of discipline or reprimand from their state licensing boards. No fines, restrictions, suspensions or revocations were issued against these doctors.

It gets even worse. Almost 250 doctors were cited “immediate threat to health and safety” by medical facilities, yet their medical licenses remained intact. And nearly 900 doctors were cited negligence, substandard care, incompetence or malpractice. They still kept treating patients – again with their medical license intact.

And even the worst of the worst physicians were still allowed to keep treating patients, despite multiple malpractice settlements. According to USA Today's investigation, in the decade studied, there were 100,000 doctors who settled malpractice claims. Out of that total number, 800 were responsible for an incredible ten percent of total payouts. These payouts averaged $5.2 million per physician. But less than one in five faced any kind of sanctions from their state medical boards.

Experts who USA spoke with say part of the problem is that the state boards are not set up to impose sanctions or restrictions on doctors guilty of medical malpractice. And many times these boards rely on hospital peer review reports for their information when investigating complaints. These reports may not always contain all the relevant information they should.

If you've suffered series injuries or disabilities to a physician's negligence or incompetence, contact an experienced Illinois medical malpractice attorney today to find out what damages you may be entitled to seek for pain and loss.

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