From the March 2004 Idaho Observer:
This is war, says Dr. Jones
DALLAS, Texas -- For $4.95 a month doctors can subscribe to an electronic service that profiles patients who have sued for malpractice. The site allows doctors to assess the risk of offering...services to clients or potential clients.
Dan Lambe, director of the consumer advocacy Texas Watch commented, This type of blacklisting runs counter to the Hippocratic Oath to the ethical and moral goals and obligations of medical professionals.
The website www.doctorsknow.us claims to be the first company to profile plaintiffs, their lawyers and expert witnesses in malpractice lawsuits.
They can sue, but they can't hide, boasts the site developed by Radiolgist Dr. John Shannon Jones. Dr. Jones told The Wall Street Journal that people who sue doctors are going to find their access to health care may be limited. That's a harsh thing to say, but this is a war, said Jones, who has settled two malpractice cases.
The website services about 50 members and the database has fewer than 100,000 patient names a this time. Dr. Jones explained that, in most cases, the database does not report the outcome of a suit or whether the suit had merit.
Dr. Jones actually understated the issue by saying, This is war. Only 58,000 Americans lost their lives in Vietnam but a congressional committee reported in 2001 that medical malpractice kills at least 100,000 Americans each year.
Those entertaining the notion of hiring a doctor have access to the Medical Malpractice Referral Network (MMRN) (an attorney-sponsored website). This site hosts databases of doctors who have been sued for malpractice and shares background on the cases instead of just listing names to be blacklisted.
According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, just 5.1 percent of doctors account for 54.2 percent of negligence claim payments and settlements.
Of the 35,000 doctors who have had 2 or more lawsuit payouts since 1990, only 7.6 percent have been disciplined, and only 13 percent of doctors with five or more medical malpractice payouts have been disciplined.
For example, 10 percent of New York doctors have paid two or more malpractice awards to patients. These repeat offenders are responsible for 84 percent of all suit settlements.
And this situation is unlikely to resolve itself any time soon. Most state licensing boards are notoriously lax in disciplining bad doctors, even those who have caused multiple injuries or fatalities. Doctors can subscribe to an electronic blacklist to screen out potential malpractice patients.
Note: Since publication, the site at www.doctorsknow.us has, according to the note attached to the site, "permanently ceased operations..." as of March 9, 2004. Doctors Know, LLC, cited the unanticipated controversy as reason to cease its electronic operations.
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