Ask any Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and they will likely explain that beyond helping families receiving support following devastating injuries, one of the important goals of these lawsuits is to ensure that dangerous doctors are no longer able to hurt patients. At the very least, all those working in this field work hard to raise awareness of a wide range of medical errors, thereby incentivizing medical professionals to make changes that will ultimately improve patient safety. Research into the effects of medical malpractice lawsuits suggests that both of these goals are furthered by the justice system.
However, at the same time, we know that much progress can be made when it comes to patient safety. For one thing, as explained in new Kansas City Star story, many of the medical professionals cited again and again for misconduct are allowed to continue practicing without recourse. Not only that, but their identities are often protected so that consumers are not even capable of deciding not to visit that physician if they chose. This state of affairs goes against the most basic standards of accountability of providing fair information to consumers allowing them to make educated decisions about that which matters most: their health.
The Kansas City Star story gives the example of one doctor, known only as Practitioner No. 222117 who is likely the most disciplined doctor in America. A staggering 20 different states have revoked the doctor’s licensed over a four year period for a wide range of problems. The practitioner violated drug laws, provided substandard care, obtained licenses fraudulently, prescribed unauthorized medication, and more from 2002 to 2006. The doctor lost membership in two medical societies and lost the ability to bill Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency took away the professional’s ability to prescribe any controlled medication.
Yet, despite all of this, the doctor may very well still be practicing. But federal secrecy rules prevent anyone from finding out who the doctor is or identifying if he or she is still seeing patients. Not only that, but journalists are even prohibited from investigating to find out the answers to these questions. This bizarre and downright dangerous situation is the result of new rules imposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which restrict how online searchers can utilize the government database which shares information on medical malpractice and similar instances of doctor sanctions. This research ban is effectuated by forcing all those who seek to access the database to first agree not to combine the information obtained in the database with outside information.
Every Chicago medical malpractice lawyer that cares about preventing incidence of malpractice as well as vindicating it should be outraged by these backwards tactics to keep honest journalists from sharing important information about medical professional regulations. Accountability breeds improvement. It is a basic principle that has been recognized in every public and private sector. As such it remains incredibly misguided for public accountability to be withheld in perhaps an area that matters most of all to the community.
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