Are We Doing Enough To Prevent Medical Errors?
We often hear that the court system is clogged by too many frivolous lawsuits. Yet researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that 97% of malpractice cases are actually meritorious.
Are the state disciplinary organizations doing enough to protect the public from doctors who have a bad track record? How is a doctor allowed to claim 282 victims, like Mark Weinberger who was finally convicted after 5 years, of performing unnecessary surgeries and billing for operations never actually performed? What would proponents of "tort reform" say in response to this?
While most hospitals claim to do their own "Morbidity and Mortality" conferences, it is often difficult for a doctor to label a colleague's performance as substandard. Is this the best way to correct medical errors? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. following just behind heart disease and cancer. In light of this, should we really be making it more difficult to file a medical malpractice lawsuit?
A study of Perfusionists (a specialized healthcare professional who uses the heart-lung machine during heart surgery) showed that 55% of them had used a smartphone during the performance of a procedure. Is this any better than a teenager texting while driving?
State Boards can sanction doctors for a range of problems including substance abuse, sexual misconduct, criminal convictions, incompetence and substandard care. But in too many cases action isn't taken until it is too late, if action is taken at all. This is why it is so important to protect yourself, and thoroughly vet any physicians you or your family plan to visit.
One method is to check with your State's Medical Board to get information regarding disciplinary actions or malpractice awards. Note that each state differs on what is made public, frequency of updates, and disciplinary actions.
You can also look up other sites for doctor reviews such as American Medical Association, HealthGrades.com, LifeScript.com, RateMDs.com and DoctorScorecard.com.
If we cannot rely on State Disciplinary Boards to protect us, we must make sure we are our own best advocate, and do the research ourselves.