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States don't always restrict doctors after complaints

Medical professionals in Georgia may be carefully watching a Texas case in which one doctor continued to practice medicine despite thousands of dollars in fines, restrictions on prescribing medication and a medical license on probation. In 2011, he again went before the medical board after allegations that he prescribed painkillers to a woman that eventually resulted in her wrongful death. Just 11 months earlier, another woman also passed away while under his care. No stranger to the board, he had not only faced sanctions for his mishandling of medications, but he reportedly abused drugs himself. After four more years, the board finally revoked his licence.

One mother believes her daughter would be alive if the board had acted sooner. She insists they knew the doctor had these issues and believes they should have stopped him from practicing. The director of the board maintains that they followed procedures. The doctor himself was not available to comment on the case.

Across the nation, medical boards continue to allow doctors to practice despite findings of serious problems. They might be barred from medical facilities or pay millions of dollars to settle lawsuits but keep their licenses. The problems vary by state; some states more aggressively pursue medical professionals when allegations are confirmed against them.

The National Practitioner Data Bank compiled a list of malpractice data. Statistics show that from 2001 to 2011, almost 6,000 doctors were banned or restricted at medical facilities. However, more than 3,000 of those professionals didn't face a fine or any action against their medical license.

When someone loses their life due to a wrongful death, family members might not know where to turn. A personal injury attorney might be able to help clients hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions by uncovering a practitioner's pattern of negligent conduct and citing similar cases as revealed through NPDB data.

Source: USA Today, "Thousands of doctors practicing despite errors, misconduct", Peter Eisler and Barbara Hansen, August 20, 2013

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