North Carolina Medical Board Fights to Post Medical Malpractice Information

Posted on Jul 01, 2008
The News & Observer based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, reports that the North Carolina Medical Board wishes to post doctors’ medical malpractice records on their website so that patients can easily access current information about their health professionals. The state agency, which is responsible for licensing and regulation physicians and physicians’ assistants in North Carolina, has taken significant criticism in recent years for not informing patients of dangerous or troubled doctors.

On the other side of the issue, North Carolina’s private physicians’ association is against the database, as it could contain misleading information and put some doctors on a blacklist when they do not deserve to be.

The website would list malpractice cases that reach back seven years, although he names of the patients and claim amounts would not be disclosed. To make the information more fair to the doctors involved, the site would allow physicians to add comments explaining the medical malpractice incident.

In addition, the site would note that malpractice does not necessitate negligence and that some medical specialty fields, such as obstetrics and neurosurgery, draw significantly more lawsuits than others. Most importantly, the site would note if the doctor had been publicly disciplined for his or her actions by the board, which would clarify whether or not negligence had been a factor in the malpractice suit.

 The NC Medical Society (NCMS), a private society of about 11,000 North Carolina doctors, supported the new law that was recently passed to disclose medical malpractice information, but is rejecting the Medical Board’s wishes to post so much sensitive data without more explanation. They have stated that many times doctors settle malpractice suits for business reasons and that some malpractice claims are due to the litigious times.

Dick Taylor, the chief executive of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, agrees with the NC Medical Board that disclosing as much information as possible is a good thing for patients in that it could prevent future medical malpractice suits and make doctors more accountable for their actions. More importantly, it could save lives.

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