Keep Our Families SafeDoctor’s Blacklist is Blackmail
Imagine going to the doctor for a simple malady only to discover that the doctor is refusing to treat you because your name is on a list of people known for their “litigious behavior” against doctors.
That’s exactly what happened to Greg Dawson, the domestic security director for 16 Texas counties.
Mr. Dawson recently had trouble finding a doctor for his son. Why? Because he had once filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Fort Worth doctor and hospital over the death of his 39-year-old wife after they failed to diagnose her brain tumor.
Another couple was placed on the list after winning a lawsuit over a botched operation by a surgeon who was addicted to painkillers, had once left s surgical sponge inside a patient, and had on other occasions operated on the wrong hip and amputated the wrong leg.
For several months, a group of doctors in Texas maintained this list as a Web site called DoctorsKnow.Us. Claiming to exist so that doctors can assess the risk of offering their services to patients and potential patients, the Web site compiles lists of plaintiffs, their lawyers and expert witnesses in Texas and other states, paying no attention to the merits or the outcome of the claims.
The site and its founders claimed that they were providing some kind of public service by spurring debate on the so-called medical malpractice crisis. However, their motives are betrayed by the fact that the site was a for profit site selling subscriptions to their database -- $4.95 a month for the first 250 database searches and 2 cents a search after that.
The good news is that thanks to massive public outcry, the Web site has been shut down. The bad news is the precedent this sets for the future.
It is now clear that some people have no compunction whatsoever in participating in a medical blacklisting scheme to deny medical care to those who have been injured by medical malpractice and exercised their legal rights. They are willing, it seems, to withhold their services from patients who wish nothing more than to have their day in court because they were wronged by a doctor.
But if you, as a consumer or as a patient, were to try and learn if your doctor has ever been sued or reprimanded by your state’s medical board, you would be running up against brick walls at every turn.
That’s the irony and the outrage. There’s a massive double-standard where doctors will reveal nothing of their own history, and they expect to be privy to yours.
Even more troubling is that state medical licensing agencies have a very poor track record in policing bad doctors. So, even if you are lucky enough to live in a state where actions by the state medical board are open to the public, that still is likely to only be scratching the surface.
In the state of Colorado (where medical board records are NOT open to the public), for instance, a recent story by the Denver Post revealed that the licensing agency dismisses 80 percent of the complaints it receives about doctors each year. Further, according to the chair of the board, it is more concerned about the facts of a case in front of it, than with potential future actions by a medical professional.
It is troubling that state medical boards such as Colorado’s appear unconcerned with preventing the harm that may come to patients in the future.
Even more troubling is that some doctors fail to see the hypocrisy in blacklisting potential patients, while keeping their own histories shrouded in secrecy.