One of the scariest situations a doctor can find themselves in is a medical malpractice lawsuit. According to the American Medical Association, 1 in 3 doctors has had a medical malpractice suit filed against them, with the likelihood increasing to 1 in 2 by age 55.
Not only are medical malpractice cases costly, they can shatter doctors’ reputations and create anxiety about the impact the lawsuit will have on their medical license. While every case is different, below we’ll tell you about the common repercussions of medical malpractice suits and when it is in your best interest to seek legal help.
How Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Work
Many doctors think because a malpractice suit is filed against them, they will immediately have discipline taken against their medical license. In reality, a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed by a victim who has been harmed or injured due to a doctor’s negligence so that they can recover compensation for these losses.
While a medical malpractice lawsuit can create a lot of issues, discipline of a license is not determined by the courts. Only the Medical Board of California can revoke, suspend, reprimand, or place on probation, a doctor’s license. Even if a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed and the doctor is found liable due to negligence, it will not directly affect a doctor’s license, except that the Medical Board of California may conduct its own investigation into the matter.
Reporting of Malpractice
The law requires a doctor to report a medical malpractice settlement. The Medical Board of California represents this requirement as follows: “The law requires that any medical malpractice judgment or arbitration award of any amount or settlement over $30,000 that relates to a licensee’s alleged negligence, error or omission in practice be reported, regardless of where the care and treatment occurred.”
When is a Doctor’s License Disciplined?
Discipline can take many forms. The lowest form is a public reprimand, with the worst case being revocation. Often, licenses are suspended for a period and/or placed on probation for a period of years.
There are two scenarios in which a doctor’s license to practice is likely to be disciplined. In the first case, the doctor is determined to be a threat to the public as a direct result of his or her practice of medicine. This may be related to standards of practice, gross negligence, medical record keeping, fraud, or other conduct that harms patients.
Second, discipline often occurs if a doctor’s behavior personally may have the propensity of contributing to the unsafe practice of medicine. This may include substance abuse, DUIs, commission of other crimes, and mental health issues.
What to Do If Your License is Subject to Potential Discipline?
You should consult an attorney who defends licensees before the medical board.
If you think your license is being unfairly threatened, or you are being sued for medical malpractice, it is a good idea to work with an experienced board license lawyer who can protect your rights. With help from a lawyer, the vast majority of these cases can be settled out of court.
If you are a doctor in need of an attorney, Scott Harris can help. Contact SJ Harris Law at 323-794-0701.
This blog is meant to be informational. It is not meant to be all-encompassing legal advice. If you are facing a situation involving your professional license, seek counsel from a licensed attorney.