A Real Solution to Medical Malpractice

I would like to propose a solution to the problem of incompetent physicians who are allowed to continue practicing medicine after settling a malpractice suit, or being found liable in a malpractice suit.  They should have their license to practice medicine revoked.  This is only logical.  Once the bad doctors can no longer practice medicine, we wont have to worry about malpractice.  

And we all know there are bad doctors out there.  I think it is great that there is a legal remedy to address this incompetence in the lawsuit.  The problem is that once a bad doctor is exposed, and has to pay money to their victims, they are still allowed to practice without having any other penalty imposed.  What kind of fucked-up society do we live in that would tolerate this travesty?  What other profession is afforded this preferential treatment?  

Look, if a bus driver was found to be liable for maiming or killing their passengers, would they be allowed to pay off their victims, and STILL BE ALLOWED TO DRIVE THE BUS?  Fuck no!  So why do doctors think they are better than bus drivers?  

Some people may say, "Doctors are only human, they might not be total quacks if they make just one mistake." Ok, lets assume that's true.  As a compromise, I suggest that the first time a doctor harms a patient, the medical license may be revoked for a period of time, let's say a year.  The guilty physician may use that time to both remediate basic medical education, and reflect on the pain and suffering they caused to their innocent victims.  

Now, you may think that, as a physician myself, I am being sarcastic.  I am not.  I believe this would help bring some closure to this endless debate.  Maybe once people realize that they can no longer receive emergency medical care, or obstetrical care, and all specialties suffer serious physician shortages, we can re-evaluate how, as a society, we address the problems of medical errors.  

Tags: Healthcare (all tags)



Re: A Real Solution to Medical Malpractice

Certainly there times when a doctor is clearly remiss and some doctors that should not be practicing at all but I am rather stunned that you, as a doctor, propose a doctor who does harm be suspended for a period without little detail.

When I was growing up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, the town had two doctors who were very close friends.  When one of the doctors was out of town one of his sons choked on something the son ate and the friend operated.  The boy died.

Astonishing to me, the doctor whose son had died did an autopsy on his own son according to my sister, a nurse.  That doctor concluded his friend was negligent and the two became bitter enemies afterwards.  Presumably the opinion of negligence was not widely shared.

Even this layperson thinks it not so easy to assign blame and particularly in various very specialized surgery such as neurosurgery or whipples.

More openness and less protection for the baddies might do much to resolve much of the problem.

by terryhallinan 2006-07-14 06:27AM | 0 recs
Re: A Real Can Of Worms

If you have an accident, or "use" your insurance to replace a vandalized windshield, or even live in a "bad" neighborhood where the police ticket you for going through a stoplight that they control with a remote selector device, your car insurance goes straight up.

Few people know that a rookie surgeon can perform 18 botched heart surgeries that kill 18 patients in a row, and his or her insurance will not go up one cent! And if a hospital looks the other way, this rookie surgeon can then operate on a 19th "patient!"

See, like God, insurance companies act in strange ways. Except, they make a lot more money.

by blues 2006-07-14 07:23AM | 0 recs

"Few people know that a rookie surgeon can perform 18 botched heart surgeries that kill 18 patients in a row, and his or her insurance will not go up one cent!"

Where?  This seems completely out of the realm of reality especially with malpractice insurance companies looking to increase rates on doctors all the time.

by John Mills 2006-07-14 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: A Real Can Of Worms

I agree with John,

That's a Big assertion blues, please back it up with a link or a citation.


by TimThe Terrible 2006-07-14 08:11AM | 0 recs
What the &$*(#&$?

What the hell are you talking about? I worked in medical liability on both the underwriting and software side. You must be smoking something if you think the claims dont get factored into premiums.

by Pravin 2006-07-14 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: What the &$*(#&$?

Okay, okay -- In this ruckus I am actually willing to back off slightly. Here's what I said:

Few people know that a rookie surgeon can perform 18 botched heart surgeries that kill 18 patients in a row, and his or her insurance will not go up one cent! And if a hospital looks the other way, this rookie surgeon can then operate on a 19th "patient!"

The part about the 18  botched heart surgeries I heard on a radio show maybe seven years ago. The part about the lousy surgeons not having their rates go up I read somewhere. So there does exist the possibility that I have missed the mark slightly. However...

I a pretty sure that these policies and procedures vary from state to state. Anyway, what with the legions of crummy doctors, lawyers, judges, juries, etc., yes Houston we probably do have a Big-Time problem. All I know for sure is that all you baying hounds can hardly wait for me to make yet another concession!

Well first off, if the crummy surgeons are getting insurance rate increases, that arrangement is not keeping them out of the operating rooms.

My personal take on it is that our society labors under a dumb-ass consensus that every "criminal conviction" is equivalent to a horrid "scarlet letter" stamped on the forehead of every "perp." In a sane society, we could simply convict the crummy surgeons, assess a whopping fine, and eventually persuade them to become gourmet chefs, or something. Unfortunately for us, our society lacks the basic sanity necessary to get such a policy to function in a reasonable manner.

by blues 2006-07-14 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: A Real Solution to Medical Malpractice

Interesting post.  I definately believe that medical licensing boards are way too lenient but this seems a little draconian.  Settled lawsuits would result in a license revokation??  People settle lawsuits all the time to avoid court/lawyer costs and the roll of the dice of a trial especially if insurance will pay it off.  It does not always mean guilt or wrong doing.  

A better solution would be:

1 - Open the national practitioner database to the public so people can see how many times a doctor has been sued and the outcome of those cases.

2 - Remove the cronyism of licensing boards and give them real teeth to investigate cases of medical wrong doing.  

3 - Establish tough rules for revokation of a license - i.e. negligent death or inury of a patient as determined by a thorough investigation.  

I definately agree with the thrust of your argument that too many bad doctors continue to practice but I think you solution goes a little too far.

by John Mills 2006-07-14 07:46AM | 0 recs


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