The Virginia Department of Health Professions: A Website Worth Reading

I was recently doing some research in connection with one of the medical malpractice cases we are handling in our office.

Fairly routine stuff, checking for publicly available information (primarily on the Internet) on the involved health care providers.  I always go to the Virginia Department of Health Professions website to see where the doctor involved in the case went to medical school, what licenses they hold, areas of specialization, and whether the Virginia Board of Medicine has taken any action against them or their license to practice medicine.

You would be surprised what you can learn from the case decisions reported on the site.

To find case case decisions, simply choose what type of medical provider you are looking for (nursing, dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, etc.) then you are provided a chronologically arranged list of healthcare providers whose conduct and professionalism has been reviewed by the Department of Health Professions.

The site also allows you to read the Board’s  decision on whether the healthcare provider meet acceptable standards.

For example, the following is shocking to learn:

In August 2011, a registered nurse working at Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington, Virginia, was found to staggering, unsteady on her feet, and her speech slurred.  Even more scary was the fact she was caring for a patient in the Intensive Care Unit at that time and simply abandoned her patient and walked out of the hospital.

The nurse was subsequently hospitalized for a bipolar disorder and action taken by the Virginia Board of Nursing. I realize nurses and doctors are human beings with all of the frailties and inadequacies of human kind.  However, where was this nurse’s supervisor?

These types of problems don’t happen without any buildup or warning.

Did the nurse’s supervisors just look the other way when they noticed a change in the nurse’s conduct, mood, or lack of attention to detail?  We don’t know if the patient she was caring for in the ICU was injured as a result, but he or she surely didn’t receive the nursing care and attention deserved that day.

One last thing: guess how long it took before the Board of Nursing to investigate and suspend the nurse’s license?

Try one year! 

Have some spare time on your hands?  If you do you might just find reading the Virginia Department of Health Professions website of interest before choosing a Virginia doctor.

Dan Frith

Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.