Last time, we looked at the issue of how medical malpractice litigation and physician discipline are related. As we noted, pursuing medical malpractice litigation is not always automatically going to be the right thing to do in every case. Even in cases where an injured patient or a surviving family member has a meritorious claim, it needs to be determined whether the costs of pursuing medical malpractice litigation are worth the likely outcome in terms of damages.
In cases where, for whatever reason, pursing medical malpractice litigation cannot be justified—and each case needs to be individually evaluated to determine this—it can be important for injured patients and their family members to pursue alternative avenues to achieve some justice. This can include things like meeting with the physician and sorting things out privately, filing complaints and working with the facility where the medical provider works to help improve delivery of care. The cooperation necessary to achieve anything through these avenues is not always present, though.
In cases where medical malpractice isn’t an option any no other options are apparent, one possibility is to ensure the state medical board is aware of the physician’s actions. State medical boards are responsible for the licensing and discipline of physicians, and review complaints filed in connection with physician misconduct, which often overlaps with medical malpractice.
Each state medical board has its own procedures and standards, and this affects the way physician misconduct is dealt with in each state. In our next post, we’ll speak a bit more about the complaint process here in Kentucky, and how an experienced attorney may be helpful in filing a complaint.