When we go to the doctor, we expect that the state’s licensing board has done due diligence and the person we put our trust in to treat us or our loved ones is qualified to practice medicine. But an investigation has uncovered that many physicians who lose their license just pack up their medical bags, move to another state and continue to see patients.
And not only are these doctors still practicing medicine, they are also collecting millions of dollars in Medicare payments – this despite Medicare receiving notification of the original medical license suspensions. In 2012, almost $7 million dollars was paid to doctors who had suspended medical licenses in other states.
The investigation highlighted one example regarding a surgeon who lost his license to practice in Alabama after he was found guilty of “gross malpractice or gross negligence.”
The doctor had performed surgery on a 36 year-old female patient suffering from acid reflux and an inflamed esophagus. According to the original complaint, the surgery he performed was “not an accepted anti-reflux operation” and the doctor had been “struggling during the surgery, which was reportedly accompanied by copious bleeding.” The day following the surgery, the patient spiked a high temperature and her white-blood cell level increased, both signs of a possible infection. The patient also had an elevated heart rate. The doctor dismissed the blood test results as a lab error and failed to order a new test. He also ignored the abnormal heart rate. Instead, he sent the patient home, where she was found dead the next day.
The doctor tried to blame the patient’s death from an overdose of painkillers he had prescribed. The Alabama licensing board disagreed and suspended his license. Among the long list of violations included “conduct which is dishonorable and which shows a disposition to lie, cheat and fraud.” Shortly thereafter, the state of New York, where the surgeon also was licensed, suspended his license to practice there, based on what Alabama had uncovered.
The state of Georgia, however, only required the doctor to get 20 hours of continuing education. He continues to treat patients – most, if not all, unaware of his dangerous past.
If you or a love one has been seriously injured as a result of negligent medical care, contact a Virginia medical malpractice attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.