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Physicians with History of Misconduct Slip through Safeguards

Physicians with History of Misconduct Slip through Safeguards

Doctors who practice in the U.S. are required to take a rigorous set of tests in order to receive board certification and become licensed to practice medicine. We, as potential patients, expect that these doctors are held to high standards — but what happens when doctors who abuse their authority or repeatedly harm patients are left unchecked?

According a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, one doctor lost his license after being cited for sexual misconduct, receiving a felony conviction connected to controlled substance abuse and settling over half a dozen medical malpractice suits. The scariest part: this physician may or may not be currently practicing medicine in Illinois.

Details of Illinois Regulation of the National Practitioner Data Bank

The National Practitioner Data Bank was established by federal law as a means to identify “problem doctors.” It records information on criminal convictions, malpractice suits and professional society membership actions. The goal of the data bank is to protect patients by flagging doctors who receive punishment in one state and subsequently move to another in order to continue practicing.

Many states regularly check the databank for information pertaining to physicians practicing within their state. Unfortunately, the government agency responsible for regulating professionals within Illinois, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, does not regularly review this databank.

Implications for Patient Safety

The databank lists over 200 doctors practicing in Illinois who have had privileges revoked or restricted, and yet the Illinois licensing authority has yet to take action against these physicians. A recent report by a consumer advocacy group has determined that Illinois is one of 32 states which have failed to sanction a large portion of physicians whose licenses are either restricted or have been revoked by their professional organizations.

Although some cited infractions were likely minor, others were deemed to present an immediate threat to the health or safety of patients. Consumer advocacy groups are voicing concern that allowing “problem doctors” to work within the state will result in poor and potentially dangerous medical treatment for patients under their care.

If you or a loved one is injured as a result of negligent medical practices, compensation is available to cover medical and rehabilitative expenses, as well as pain and suffering. It is important to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney to better ensure that all your legal rights and remedies are protected.

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