As a lawyer in a busy personal injury firm which handles many cases involving malpractice I was not surprised to read an article in The Virginian Pilot about Virginia doctors and medical malpractice and the state’s failure to discipline them. The article focuses on the fact that Virginia ranks very low among states that are likely to discipline their physicians for malpractice. In case you haven’t heard there has been a great deal of publicity lately surrounding a local rheumatologist, Dr. Plotnick, who recently surrendered his license for two years. According to reports, 10 of his patients have died since 2004, 7 from pain killer overdoses.
The lesson here is easy to learn. Our state medical board needs to be more aggressive in disciplining doctors who repeatedly have problems with patients. It is not coincidence that multiple complaints are made against the same doctor. Someone needs to pay more attention to those complaints to make sure patients are not in danger. Like many states, Virginia uses a complaint-based system to discipline doctors. The state Board of Medicine receives thousands of complaints every year, and it can be difficult to ferret out the relatively few cases in which patients are being gravely harmed. This is uncacceptable. The potential for severe injuries warrants a more thorough review of these complaints.
Most doctors will tell you that is unlikely for a doctor to report another doctor’s misconduct. Therefore, most of the complaints come from patients. Many health care entities – doctors, hospitals, malpractice insurers – are required by law to report suspected malpractice. But pharmacists who are asked to fill questionable prescriptions are not required
As a patient you must look out for your best interest. We put a lot of trust into our health care providers and sometimes they lose that trust. If you have been injured as a result of a doctor’s malpractice, contact our firm for a free consultation.