Public Citizen: Hundreds of California Doctors Not Disciplined for Malpractice, Errors

According to the Orange County Register, five months ago, Public Citizen’s Dr. Sidney Wolfe wrote a letter to the executive director of the Medical Board of California, Linda Whitney. In the letter, Wolfe wrote that a review of the National Practitioner Data Bank between 1990 and 2009 revealed that 710 physicians who’d had their medical priviledges restricted due to incompence and/or medical malpractice, were never disciplined. Of the 710 physicians, 102 of them posed an “immediate threat to the health and safety of patients”.
In April, an attorney for the Board responded to Wolfe’s letter by stating, “Resources permitting, the board will endeavor to respond to your requests, as it is always interested in improving public protection.” Yet, the Board has not even requested the names of the physicians which are readily available from the database. So, Wolfe decided to take the matter directly to Governor Brown. According to the Register, Wolfe wrote,
–the medical board is not protecting California patients from hundreds of doctors with proven poor records
–California’s performance in reviewing and disciplining bad doctors has slipped substantially in the last 13 years. In 1997 it was 18th in the country in disciplining bad doctors but today it ranks among the lower half of U.S. states.
“I hope, because of the threat posed to California patients by such dangerously inadequate medical board activity, you will order an independent investigation of these serious problems,” Wolfe wrote.
Here’s what Public Citizen found as published by the Orange County Register:
–A physician identified only as number 2111 had three clinical privilege actions taken against him by hospitals in 2007 and 2008, including a permanent loss of privileges. He also had eight medical malpractice payouts between 1991 and 2008 totaling some $2 million,
–Physician number 3869 also lost his privileges permanently at his hospital because he was considered an “Immediate Threat to Health or Safety.” This docter had six medical malpractices payouts totalling $454,000 between 1992 and 2008. One of his patients suffered major permanent injury.
–Physician 5039 lost hospital privileges in 1991 and had 15 medical malpractice payouts between 1993 and 2009 totalling $1.9 million. Those include two cases of foreign objects left inside a patioent, two cases of improper performance, and one patient who suffered significant permanent injury. Like the others, there was no Medical Board of California action taken against this physician as of December 2009.
These are egregious breaches of safety protocols and California patients are the ones who suffer because governmental agencies have failed to respond. Let’s hope Governor Brown decides to act before more innocent lives are affected.