Michael Skolnik, age 22, was playing the with family dog when he blacked out. A series of errors ensued, including neurosurgery by an inexperienced doctor who already had a malpractice claim against him in another state. After two years of hell, during which he couldn’t walk or talk, Michael died.
Do you realize that it’s very possible that the doctor who treats you or your loved one, has malpractice suits filed against him or her? Do you realize that doctor may have already been found guilty of that malpractice? Do you realize that thousands of doctors across the country have disciplinary marks on their licenses? Do you realize that, depending on what state you live in, you may have no way of finding that out?
Here’s where you can get information about malpractice and disciplinary action against doctors: California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia.
These states make this information public — and thanks to Patty Skolnik, Michael’s mother and a very active advocate for helping to make sure others don’t suffer at the hands of irresponsible or negligent doctors, Colorado will begin making this information public, too. Botched surgery, medical errors, drug or mental problems — if there has been a formal charge or conviction, it will appear online.
Where can you get this information? The medical boards in most states publish the information on their websites. For a master list of these states, link here: http://www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html
That’s only a start, though, and may not provide all the information you need. For example, you may look for information about a specific doctor in your state, but that doctor may have been brought under a disciplinary action in another state. Also, according to HealthGrades.com, of the 35,000 doctors who have had two or more malpractice payouts since 1990, only 7.6 percent have been disciplined, meaning, the black marks on the other 92.4 percent won’t show up on their state board record.
Of note, according to HealthGrades, the most frequent malpractice incidents take place in: Bariatric Surgery, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Cardiothoracic Surgery.
There are a number of websites that provide bits and pieces of information about specific doctors and facilities. You can find a master list here: www.DiagKNOWsis.org/resources/quality.htm
If you prefer to find most of the information about doctors, hospitals and nursing homes you need in one place, it can be found at HealthGrades.com. You will pay for the report, but you’ll find everything in one place without having to chase it down from a variety of sources. Included are ratings and sample experiences from patients.
For those of you who live in Colorado, send your thanks, tip your hat, and say a prayer for Patty Skolnik. She continues to fight for laws and disclosures for you. She has channeled her pain to help others. You can learn much more at her website, too, at: http://www.coloradocitizensforaccountability.org/
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Here’s a footnote: After my misdiagnosis debacle, I inquired about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In my opinion, the oncologist who was so insistent I get chemotherapy despite tests that indicated to the contrary, had caused me enough pain to make it worth the inquiry. I wasn’t interested in money. I was interested in making the point.
I learned that in New York State, where I live, you cannot file a malpractice suit unless you can prove physical harm. In my case, since I had refused treatment until I had clearer answers, I did not suffer physical harm, so, no possibility of a lawsuit.
How ironic. Had I actually started chemo, even though I didn’t need it, a suit would have been possible. That said, I instead channeled my frustration into my role as Every Patient’s Advocate. (And you know, I’ve said it before – Everything happens for a reason!)