"First, do no harm": it is a maxim deeply rooted in the foundations of medical ethics. American medical students are taught that when confronted with a health problem, it may be better to pursue an alternative treatment or even do nothing rather than risk causing more harm than good.
Of course, even excellent doctors can make mistakes, and those who do may be held responsible in medical malpractice lawsuits. But, what about those physicians who are repeatedly hauled into court to answer to malpractice claims?
Even after accumulating an extensive malpractice history, state licensing boards routinely allow doctors to continuing plying their trade; often there is not even a way for patients to review doctors' malpractice records prior to a procedure. Unfortunately, for those medical practitioners regularly held accountable for causing patient injuries, simply remaining in the medical field may present an unacceptable risk to patients.
Physicians May Keep Licenses Even After Multiple Malpractice Claims
A recent investigation conducted by The Kansas City Star uncovered a disturbing trend among physicians. The Star found over 20 doctors practicing medicine in Kansas and Missouri under the authority of immaculate medical licenses, despite the fact that they all had significant medical malpractice histories. Severe medical mistakes made by the physicians investigated included operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical materials inside of patients, failing to properly diagnose various conditions and recommending unnecessary treatments. Not even pending disciplinary actions from state licensing boards showed up on the doctors' records.
The problems observed in Kansas and Missouri are not region-specific: for instance, according to the Duluth News Tribune, one neurosurgeon was finally sanctioned by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for "unethical and unprofessional conduct" after being involved in nine lawsuits (including two for patient deaths and one for causing permanent paralysis). But, he was still permitted to operate, and has since moved to Texas, where official state records contain no mention of complaints.
Options for Colorado Patients
In Colorado, the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies offers an online resource that allows users to search for disciplinary action against physicians and other professionals. However, a malpractice suit may not result in a disciplinary action, and when applying for licensure in Colorado, physicians need only list malpractice suits that were concluded within the previous five years.
Regrettably, it is often difficult or impossible to explore the malpractice history of doctors in advance, and usually the only way to hold careless doctors accountable is a lawsuit following a medical mistake. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical error in Colorado, contact a Denver medical malpractice lawyer today.