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Medical Malpractice Data Bank Closed to the Public

For more than a quarter of a century a data bank used by insurers, medical boards and hospitals to find out if a doctors have been disciplined or had medical malpractice awards against them has been accessible to the public. But now, a government agency has removed the public use file from the National Practitioner Data Bank that was created in 1986, the New York Times reported.

On September 15, 2011, three  journalism organizations protested a decision by the Health Resources and Services Administration to remove the database of doctor discipline and malpractice actions from the Web. As experienced Virginia (VA) medical malpractice attorneys, my colleagues and I are also concerned about this development.

A major medical treatment is one of the most serious and potentially life-changing events anyone can face. Surely, patients have a right to know if they are going to be operated on by a doctor who has botched a procedure in the past, to allow them to make an informed decision.

Attorneys with our firm have represented clients in some harrowing cases where operations have gone wrong. In 2003, for example, we represented a 61-year-old woman in a case at Newport News (VA) Circuit Court. The woman underwent lower back disc surgery. The doctor failed to properly control the surgical instruments and allowed one of them to cut three vessels in the plaintiff's abdomen, causing her considerable internal bleeding. A repair of the damaged vessels by a surgeon was attempted but was not successful. The patient ultimately lost both her legs. The case was settled before trial for $1.25 million.

In another case our 60-year-old client suffered a botched gallbladder removal. The doctor mistakenly cut the client's common bile duct resulting in bile leaking into the client's abdomen. Our client was awarded $425,000 by an insurance company after mediation.

Our experienced Virginia medical malpractice lawyers believe it is only proper that cases like these are available to the public and the medis for review on a database and are concerned by any attempts to restrict the flow of information to the public.



Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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