A new report from the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) suggests that greater than three-quarters of doctors who have been sanctioned for negligence continue to practice – and that patients are unlikely to know that their doctor has been disciplined.
When the report refers to neglience, it is referring to a finding by the New York Office of Professional Medical Conduct (“OPMC”), which reviews cases for the State of alleged misconduct by physicians.
Unfortunately, this statistic is not surprising to those of us who represent individuals in medical negligence matters. There are certainly many occassions on which a single “error” or “mistake” by a physician should not result in long-term suspension or revocation. Medicine is a very difficult practice, and certainly mistakes and errors can happen. The concern, however, is the lack of understanding that most patients have with respect to prior instances of misconduct or negligence by their physician. Information is certainly available, here for example, however many patients are simply unaware of what information is out there, and it is highly unlikely that their doctor will inform them.
In addition to the finding regarding the number of physicians who continue to practice after being found guilty of negligence, the report made some other interesting findings:
The majority of New York State actions against doctors were the result of actions taken by an entity other than OPMC. We believe that this data suggests that OPMC is lacking in its identification of misconduct and, more importantly, its punishment for such conduct.
Over the past ten years New York's population of physicians has grown by approximately 36%. This is compared to general population growth of approximately 2%. We believe that this data suggests that claims by the medical and insurance establishments—that the cost of insurance for medical negligence is driving doctors away—is clearly wrong. Instead, doctors are flocking to New York, which for the most part is a significant benefit for residents of the state. The problem, however, is that the rapid growth rate would seem to make the job of those responsible for oversight even greater, which, we believe, places patients at even greater risk.
One of the recommendations made in the report, the full text of which may be found here, is a requirement that health care providers who harm patients as a result of a medical error advise the patient or the patient's family when the error ocurred. This makes sense, and historically it has routinely been suggested that such acknowledgments would in fact reduce the number of medical malpractice actions.
We hope that the State oversight bodies take note of the report, as it addresses some key concerns in the realm of medical negligence.
If you or a family member have been hurt by physician or hospital negligence give us a call at 518-308-8339 or request a copy of our free book. We're happy to help in any way that we can.
Scott Peterson by Scott Peterson | | Connect with me:
Representing plaintiffs in employment and serious injury matters.