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Investigation Reveals How Hundreds of Bad Doctors Keep Treating Patients

An investigative report highlights how hundreds of doctors with questionable practices and a history of harming patients continue to provide treatment nationwide, due to lax enforcement standards. 

The report, “State of Disgrace”, was published last week by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today, identifying 500 doctors who have avoided consequences stemming from bad medical treatment by moving across state lines after problems with their practices were discovered. The findings reveal how easy and widespread it is for doctors to move from state-to-state, avoiding penalties for medical malpractice and other problems.

The investigation looked at data from 2011 to 2016, identifying doctors who should have been suspended, had their licenses revoked or faced other penalties. However, in most cases, those punitive actions could be avoided just by leaving the state.

Often doctors inactivated their licenses in one state, but due to the lack of sufficient coordination between state medical boards, the penalties did not trickle down to other states where they were licensed to practice.

In addition, information provided in other states did not contain warnings, penalties, and records of problems that occurred elsewhere, meaning that patients were often unaware of the poor treatment history, and sometimes dozens of medical malpractice lawsuits, involving their physicians.

The investigation discovered the problems by going through physician dossiers compiled by TruthMD’s MedFax database, which used data from lawsuits, court records, state medical boards and the FDA.

Most of the doctors identified by the investigation had licenses in multiple states before they were penalized or faced punitive actions or lawsuits in one state. However, the investigation indicates that about 20% of the doctors identified were able to get licenses in a state after they were punished in another state.

In some cases, doctors who had caused harm or committed medical malpractice in one state later faced similar lawsuits or punitive actions by state medical boards for the exact same practices in a different state where they were licensed, the investigation found.

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