This week I read about a doctor in our area who was sued four times in 1 calendar year.
My friends Russ Updike and Nolan Nicely (of Covington Virginia) represent the families who were victims of this physician.
Peter Vieth, attorney and writer for Virginia Lawyers Weekly (a weekly lawyer newspaper) writes in the article title Ex-Virginia doctor sued 4 times in one year, that the surgeon has left the United States and now lives in Spain. The families allege the hospital system who hired the surgeon, should have known he was not able to properly care for patients given his history, past lawsuits and other known details.
Sadly, we see this all the time. While one successful lawsuit may not be a sign that a doctor is incompetent, or unable to safely care for patients, multiple suits in a short period of time (1-3 years) is typically a sign of poor practice.
And yes, I would agree with the statement that once a local practice or hospital knows a doctor is being sued often for causing the same injury, or for negligent care, something should be done internally so the physician is not allowed to harm other patients.
Why is it so hard to fire a doctor? It’s not. Sometimes the decision is made however, that it is hard to find doctors that want to practice in the area and so a bad doctor is better than no doctor.
I doubt the families who lose loved ones because of malpractice would agree a bad doctor is better than no doctor.
If you want to find out if your doctor has been sued successfully in the past, you can access this information online. Though somewhat incomplete, doctors are required to report these cases to the Virginia Department of Medicine.
Be an advocate for yourself. And when in doubt, ask around. Doctors usually have reputations that reflect the care they are providing.