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Serious medical errors don't always lead to license suspension

Whenever you make a serious error at work, you can generally expect a serious consequence to follow. You could be written up, placed on probation, have your professional license yanked or even lose your job. Therefore, it would only make sense to assume that when doctors in New York City are found guilty of making serious medical errors, they would be subjected to the same types of disciplinary action. Surprisingly, while many doctors are given a reprimand or have to pay a fine, they are still allowed to continue practicing medicine, which could put other patients at risk.

One state's numbers are a prime example of this issue. In that state, records show that the majority of doctors who make surgical errors that led to permanent damage or death for the patient suffer no serious repercussions. In one case, a doctor was merely fined after he made an error that led to the sterility of a female patient.

Another doctor's mistake led to a medical malpractice lawsuit when his patient died after he injected her with a drug dose that was over 100 times the amount that she should have received. That resulted in a settlement for the children of the victim but the doctor only received a fine and an order to attend a couple of classes.

While it seems unfair to the families and victims themselves that such surgical mistakes are allowed to go on without any real consequence for the doctors who commit them, people affected by mistakes can pursue the doctor via lawsuit. Even though a monetary settlement cannot undo the damage the doctor has done, it can help victims and their families achieve a sense of justice by holding the physician financially responsible for his or her actions.

Source: LaCrosse Tribune, "Wisconsin doctors who make mistakes often don't face serious consequences," Jan. 27, 2013

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