Study Finds that One-Fifth of Doctors Disciplined are Repeat Offenders

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice
Between 2000 and 2009, one-fifth of the doctors disciplined were repeat offenders. More specifically, fifty-one doctors committed sixty-four of the offenses which turns out to be about twenty-percent of the total cases. In fact, seven of the doctors had even been disciplined three times and two others had been disciplined four times! While this study was based out of Canada, "[p]revious research in the United States corroborates the finding that a substantial fraction of previously disciplined physicians are subsequently disciplined at rates far higher than physicians with no discipline history."

Of those disciplined, ninety-two percent were men and the vast majority were family care physicians who had been practicing for a long time. This makes sense because family care physicians see the most patients, generally are the front line of defense when a patient needs medical attention, and the fact that most of them have been practicing for a long time just means that there has been a longer and greater chance for an error.

The most common violation, however, was sexual misconduct which resulted in about twenty percent of the cases. Standard of care issues and unprofessional conduct were also common. Of those, the three most frequent penalties were fines, suspensions, and formal reprimands. Throughout everything, only six percent lost their licenses due to the misconduct.

So what does this mean? It does suggest that there should be more oversight when it comes to monitoring "trouble" physicians if one in five will cause another disciplinable offense. It should also show that some physicians who violate the rules should have to do greater retraining to help prevent this problem.

You know what, I think more physicians should really face the threat of losing their license more. Now that might be biased because I am a lawyer, have a license, and honestly wouldn't advocate that in my profession. But I think it is much more important when you are dealing with health care-as opposed to legal issues-because that can alter something we cannot get back; our bodies. Yes, lawyers could harm our clients with great financial consequences, but a doctor's misconduct has much greater repercussions.

But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.
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