Medical Malpractice Liability and Physician Discipline
Professional oversight bodies are responsible for making sure that all licensed medical professionals meet the licensure requirements and maintain their knowledge and skills. Disciplinary action is part and parcel of the oversight function and should theoretically be applied when there is negligence, but this is not always the case.
It’s important to understand the powers of professional medical boards before deciding whether to pursue a medical malpractice case. State medical boards don’t have the ability to require physicians or hospitals to pay restitution to patients affected by medical malpractice. That falls within the responsibility of civil courts, who may force malpractice insurance companies to pay you what you deserve if a settlement cannot be reached.
Victims of medical malpractice should always talk to an attorney instead of just filing a complaint with the state medical board. Although a complaint with the medical board may help your case, it will not get you the financial compensation you deserve.
Professional Medical Boards
In the U.S., each state has a state medical board which acts as an agency to license doctors practicing in the state. Their overarching purpose is to protect the public from unqualified, unprofessional or incompetent physicians.
The role of the medical board, in general, includes the following functions:
- Establish standards for medical practice
- License medical doctors
- Investigate any complaints against doctors
- Discipline delinquent doctors who violate the medical practice act
- Refer the physician for evaluation and rehabilitation when needed
However, each state has its laws and regulations governing medical practice and the responsibilities and powers of the medical board. Many also have separate disciplinary or licensing boards for physicians and nurses.
Disciplining Doctors and Nurses
The medical practice act in each state will typically define what constitutes unprofessional conduct, and includes:
- Not recognizing or acting on common symptoms
- Inadequate record-keeping or privacy issues
- Prescribing drugs in excessive amounts without legitimate reason
- Delegating medical duties to an unlicensed individual
Medical board disciplinary proceedings have to adhere to substantive due process, providing detailed and clear evaluations and showing common sense and rationality. In many cases, boards will simply require additional training or education in a particular area to prevent the behavior from happening again.
However, other physician discipline and remedies may include:
- Restrictions on the physician’s license
- Revocation of license
It’s important to note that none of these disciplinary options include restitution to the victims of medical malpractice. Although some states will fine physicians for serious problems, this is usually a fraction of the cost of the victim’s medical costs.
How to Win Compensation
The medical board’s power to enact justice is limited, but doctors can still be held liable through medical malpractice lawsuits. These claims give victims the power to collect compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even future care if they have been disabled by the malpractice injuries.
Hospitals, physicians and nurses commonly have liability insurance to protect themselves from having to pay out of pocket. This allows patients to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in compensation, if severe injury resulted from their medical treatment.
In order to win a lawsuit, you must prove that a physician violated the standard of care expected of them as a health care professional. If they already had been sanctioned by the state medical board for their actions, then passing this threshold becomes much easier.
Determining Medical Liability
Since many medical professionals may have been involved in your case, determining who bears professional liability for your injuries may take time. Your legal team will need to examine your medical records, talk to medical experts, and put together a timeline of events that led to your condition.
A law firm that specializes in medical malpractice can give you the attention and care your case deserves, while being sensitive to your needs while you recover. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we’re proud to have the services of Eileen Kroll, a former nurse who is now a trial attorney. She provides us with insider knowledge on medical standards of care and is committed to getting you the justice you deserve.
If you think you have a medical malpractice claim in Michigan, call us at (866) 642-4529 to discuss your reasons for a complaint and possible litigation. The case evaluation is free, and our law firm never charges a fee unless we win your case.Medical Malpractice Liability and Physician Discipline