Why Doctors Guilty of Malpractice Still Practice
Although the law is the law, trials are unpredictable. No two juries are ever the same. When it comes to medical malpractice, the evidence, the experts who testify, and the victim's damages may get very different responses if the same case was presented to two different juries.
In some states, doctors who are found guilty of misdiagnosis, wrong-site surgery, or prescription errors may be fined, put on probation, and still permitted to practice medicine. USA Today recently included one physician as an example in their medical malpractice article who was repeatedly fined and put on probation over the course of ten years, but still allowed to practice medicine. The doctor continued to make the same prescription errors, and one prescription became lethal for a patient (a car accident survivor) who would likely still be alive today if the doctor had not been active with his practice.
According to the Federation of State Medical Boards, as of 2012 there were 33,213 licensed physicians in North Carolina. The North Carolina Medical Board is in charge of disciplining doctors around the state. To govern care, the NC Medical Board uses the NC Malpractice Act, which is Chapter 90 of the NC General Statutes. According to the most recent reports from the Federation of State Medical Boards, in North Carolina there were 222 actions taken against 198 physicians in 2011. Out of these, 54 resulted in a loss of a license or licensed privilege, and 29 restricted a license or a licensed privilege.
Even though doctors may lose their hospital privileges in North Carolina, they can still have clean licenses. Also, medical malpractice cases are not quick. It may take years before a case is settled in or out of court - during that time a doctor may still treat and potentially harm patients.
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