More than 20 years ago Congress created a federal database to track incompetent and unprofessional health-care practitioners. The database, compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, includes some 460,000 records of malpractice lawsuits whose judgments total $69.7 billion. It includes information on 23,788 patient deaths, 8,100 major permanent injuries and 3,896 cases that resulted in quadriplegics, brain damage or lifelong care. Much of the data is closed to the public. The doctors' names remain hidden, preventing patients from using the data to look up information on their practitioner. "If the data bank is reliable enough for state medical boards to use on a daily basis, why should it be considered too incomplete for curious patients?" asked Sidney Wolfe, a physician and director of the Health Research Group for Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization out of Washington, D.C.
Gavin Off, Tulsa World
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According to my state medical board, the doctors who did me the most damage have no complaints against them. I know complaints were made, because I made them. However, the medical board wrote back saying essentially that because I'd lost neither life nor limb, it wasn't serious enough to spend their limited funds investigating. The fact that I lost "life as I knew it" and was rendered permanently disabled wasn't enough to justify an investigation!
That figured into my decision to sue for malpractice. If I couldn't make a public record of their crimes in one way, I'd make a record in another way.